Navigating Construction Permits: Essential Insights to Enhance Your Decision-Making - Expat Community

Navigating Construction Permits: Essential Insights to Enhance Your Decision-Making

Dec 5, 2023 | Costa Rica, Knowledge Base | 0 comments

Hey there, Dreamers! Let’s talk about some critical requirements that go beyond being mere checkboxes. These factors can help you decide which property or project to pursue. When handled by the right professional, they can save you time and influence your design choices.


There’s a lot to consider, but let’s focus on a few key aspects that, in my 3 phases service, have helped clients make informed decisions, understand the time and some cost.


  1. Land Use Study:

Before diving into your dream project, you’ll want to get a “Uso de Suelo” or Land Use permit. This is obtained from the relevant municipality, taking around 2 weeks, depending on the municipality. The municipality will specify the requirements, and they may vary, but this is free and everyone can do it.


This permit provides crucial information about the type of land use allowed—residential, commercial, mixed-use, industrial, or others. It helps determine if your envisioned project aligns with the land type. Just because the area has similar projects doesn’t guarantee your chosen propertie is suitable. This permit also covers land coverage (the percentage of the total area available for construction) and height restrictions (how many floors you can build).


  1. Water Availability:

The “Carta de Agua” is a game-changer. Without water letter, no project can kick off. Institutions won’t grant permits without it, making it a fundamental requirement. It’s essential to request this document at the project’s inception, before diving into design or purchasing. Obtaining this document may take up to a month, depending on the institution.


  1. Construction Permits:

Once your design is finalized, it’s time to submit it to the CFIA (Colegio de Ingenieros y Arquitectos de Costa Rica). Here’s a crucial detail many overlook: CFIA provides a cost estimate of the project, and the project owner must pay a percentageof that cost for the sealed and approved plans. This step takes about a week and involves an additional payment that catches many by surprise.


Next, all documents go to the municipality. They’ll request a signed letter from the owner or supervising professional, an approval letter for absent owners (common for expats with designated representatives), identification, and a literal certification. Additional requirements may vary by municipality, and this process, by law, can take up to a month


Let me give you an example of how taking all this into account can help you make a decision:


A client of mine was excited to kick off a project in Jacó. Three property options were on the table, and he was unfamiliar with land uses so we embarked with him on the journey of obtaining the “Uso de Suelo”.


As we were examining the documentation, a revealing moment occurred. All three properties had the same type of permitted land use. However, closer examination uncovered a crucial distinction. One property allowed for greater coverage of the total area for construction.


Our client, initially unaware of these subtleties, suddenly faced a decision. Although all three properties fell under the same land use category, one offered a bigger canvas to bring his ambitious project vision to life. The choice was clear, and he opted for the property aligning better with his dreams


Remember, this is just the tip of the iceberg, but understanding these essentials can be a game-changer when embarking on your dream project in Costa Rica!


Connect with the author,  Architect Daniel González:


Related Post

There are many questions unanswered when it comes to navigating the expat life in different countries, tell us what topics you would like to read about in our knowledge base!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe for Weekly News Summaries