Building Your Home In Costa Rica

Real Estate

Many people dream of building a home in Costa Rica, and this dream can become a reality with the right approach. The key is to find the perfect piece of land that suits your needs and preferences. Whether you envision a stunning ocean view with daily sunsets over the water, a country-style property with ample land for fruit trees and a vegetable garden, or a cozy spot near friendly neighbors, there's a piece of land that's just right for you.

View of Playa Hermosa from a hillside building lot

As a real estate broker in Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, I can help you navigate the process of finding and acquiring the ideal piece of land. The Playa Hermosa, Playas del Coco area offers a variety of residential building lots, each with its own unique features and advantages. If you see something you like, simply email me, and I'll provide you with all the information you need.

Before diving into the specifics of different types of commercial and residential building lots, it is important to understand the local regulations and requirements. The municipality sets certain standards that dictate aspects such as setbacks from boundaries, maximum percentage of construction allowed based on land size, and the designated use of the land, known as "Uso de Suelo" in Spanish. It's crucial to conduct thorough due diligence before closing the sale on a property to ensure that you're aware of what can be built and any restrictions that may apply.

Let's explore the various types of plots of land or building lots commonly available:

Residential Building Lots

These come in a few different varieties (listed below). Often, individuals who owned large parcels of land may have divided off a portion to create residential lots. These lots can be located along public roads or sometimes on easements. In order to build a home, these lots must be a minimum of 350 square meters.

Home built on a residential building lot in Costa Rica

Horizontal Condominium Lots

These lots can vary in size, but most are larger than 350 square meters. When purchasing in a horizontal condominium, buyers are obligated to follow the registered covenants and restrictions. These regulations may include specifications for home style, roof materials, monthly maintenance fees, and more. Horizontal condominium lots are always part of a gated community, and the roads within are private. Subdivision of these lots is not possible without unanimous agreement from the condominium association.

Agricultural Lot

By law, agricultural lots must be a minimum of 5000 square meters, or 1.23 acres. These developments are set up under an "agricultural" designation. The roads within these developments are typically easements, which means they pass through another person's property, and vice versa. This information is detailed in the title deed, property registration, and the registered lot survey. Agricultural development land can be subdivided, but each resulting property must still be over 5000 square meters. Most agricultural developments have a homeowners association to manage common areas and expenses. The main home on an agricultural lot can be a maximum of 300 square meters or 3229 square feet.

Costa Rica Rainbow over a piece of agricultural land

Urbanization lot

These lots are usually created by segregating a portion of a larger property. The roads within urbanization lots are public, meaning anyone can drive on them. The size of these lots can vary.

Farm land or “Fincas”

When exploring real estate options in Costa Rica, you'll find an abundance of farm lands for sale or "fincas" as they are locally known. Driving around, you'll notice signs on trees and fence posts declaring "Se Vende", which means "For Sale", giving the impression that the entire country is up for grabs. These large tracts of land, typically over one hectare or 2.5 acres, offer ample space for various construction projects. However, it's important not to overbuild and instead prioritize the space you truly need.

As previously mentioned, the local municipality plays a crucial role in determining the land's use, known as "Uso de Suelo." When you find a piece of land you wish to purchase and build on, one of the most important considerations is ensuring a legal source of potable water. This can be supplied by the Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados (AyA), a legally registered private well, or in outlying areas, through an ASAD (Las Asociaciones Administradoras de los Sistemas de Acueductos y Alcantarillados), a locally registered association that delivers water via piping.

It is also crucial to ensure that the property has a "Carta de luz", or an electricity availability letter. This document verifies that there is an existing electrical connection to the property, allowing you to obtain an electricity meter. Without this you may face challenges in connecting your property to the power grid, which can significantly impact your ability to develop or live on the land.

Another step when purchasing a property in Costa Rica is to hire a certified topographer to mark the property lines accurately. This ensures that you know the exact dimensions of the property and can identify any encroachments or boundary disputes. Having a clear understanding of the property boundaries is crucial to ensuring that the property is free and clear of any liens or encumbrances. Additionally, a topographic survey can be beneficial for future construction projects, as it provides detailed information about the terrain and topography of the land. This information can help you plan and design your development more effectively, ensuring that it complies with local regulations and avoids any potential issues with neighboring properties.

During the due diligence period, it's essential to ask your attorney to verify all these details: water and electricity availability, survey report, and to conduct a title search. This process confirms that the property is appropriately titled, the seller is the rightful owner, and the property is free of any liens, encumbrances, outstanding debts, or taxes. Failure to do so can result in significant costs down the line.

When searching for the perfect piece of land in Costa Rica, where stunning locations abound for building your dream home, it's crucial to fully understand the intricacies of your purchase before finalizing the sale. With proper due diligence and the guidance of a knowledgeable real estate professional, you can ensure that your investment is not only a sound one but also a gateway to a fulfilling life in this tropical paradise.

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