Building your home, or carrying out any kind of construction project can be a challenge regardless of what country you’re in. This is no different in Costa Rica. No matter how organized or prepared you think you are, there are always obstacles to overcome. The important thing is that you have a reliable, problem-solving team behind your project that is willing to work with you to ensure things get done, and that they are done well.
One of the major steps you can take to ensure that your construction project is completed to building code is to put together a quality team to carry out your project. This means finding a group of qualified, reputable, experienced, and dedicated individuals. How do you identify a qualified individual?
We have put together five important qualifications that a competent general contracting team should be able to meet, and thus give you peace of mind that your project will be in good hands.
Hire a formal business
The construction company, as any formal business, should be registered at the national registry and at the tax ministry. The longer you live in Costa Rica the more likely you are to find that construction projects, especially those in small towns or communities, are carried out by informal, unregistered builders. Often times, informal contractors will charge less since they won’t have the the same expenses that legitimate businesses have. But if you are going to be making a significant investment in the construction of a personal home or a larger construction, don’t put your financial investment at risk by making decisions based solely on cost. Take the time to research and get to know the people you will hire.
Work with a registered architect or engineer
Your construction company or architect firm should be registered at the CFIA (Colegio Federado de Ingenieros y Arquitectos de Costa Rica or Federated College of Engineers and Architects of Costa Rica in English), and have at least one architect or engineer registered as the legally liable representative for the project. In order to obtain the necessary construction permits from the local government your project’s building plans must be drawn up by a registered architect or engineer and approved by the CFIA.
Confirm the construction company has a valid workers’ insurance policy
Costa Rica is a country where laws heavily favor workers. As such, any legitimate construction company will have an indefinite workers’ insurance policy issued by the INS (Instituto Nacional de Seguros or the National Insurance Institute in English). A well-established general contracting company will have this insurance to protect its workers in case of injury and should be able to provide valid documentation of it.
The construction company should have past project logs
The architect or engineer responsible for the project plans is required to make periodic inspections to the construction site and maintain a project log. This project log should detail the progress of the project and note any modifications that vary from the original architectural and/or engineering plans with the responsible architect or engineer signing off that the technical aspects of the project are being upheld.
Ask for references of past projects and contact past clients
Costa Rica is a small country, and word gets around. Word-of-mouth referrals are king in the construction sector of Costa Rica. Construction companies that cut corners in their projects or that don’t follow good business practices are easily identified by those who have been in the area for some time, either Costa Ricans or other foreigners. Asking others about their experience building in Costa Rica can provide some helpful information, if not about who to hire then likely about who to avoid. If there’s a particular builder you’d like to work with, ask for references of previous clients and request to see some past projects, preferably of a project that may resemble your own in some way. More often than not, homeowners are quite happy to show their homes for other potential homeowners and share some tips or recommendations.
There are many things to consider when building your home in Costa Rica. But of utmost importance is that you find a team that is going to work with you when the going gets tough. By working with a legitimate construction company that is legally registered, has a registered architect or engineer, meets the country’s insurance requirements, and has solid references, you put your project in a position to be a success.
If you have questions about building in Uvita, or the Costa Ballena region, contact us today.