I recently talked to a potential client and we discussed his project to build his house in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, where he had bought already a piece of land.

I commented him a couple of things because I do my main activities in the Central Valley, but I had built in different spots around the country, and he was thinking to consider just local contractors.

The most of these aspects should well known by the most of people considering to move to Costa Rica and live here, but I think is a good idea to pointing  them out just in case.

First, the main principle, here and all around the world, is comparing prices all the time. It is always a good idea to get different bids to analyze. For a much better comparison, the information about the project should be the same for all the contractors, otherwise the bids themselves would not include the same requirements for everybody and the conclusion could be not accurate enough to make a good decision.

Second, the country is small and that is an advantage because well skilled crews can go almost everywhere here to build for basically the same cost. For instance, I have built in locations like Quepos, Esterillos, Limón and San Carlos, besides the Central Valley, and even the most of the times I have hired local people, what makes sense and it is supporting local economy, what is good, but I have found, at least once, it is not always the best choice. In Esterillos, Parrita, continuing the example of my last building there, I asked to local contractors for labor bids and I found they were charging around 50%  more than I usually pay, obviously I said thanks but it was inappropriate to accept it otherwise my client would pay disproportionately. At the end, I took my crew from the Central Valley (6 people), I paid their wages, I paid their food and they slep over the materials shed and the final labor expenses were 50% less than the bid from locals.

Finally, considering than materials are roughly the 65% of project, then labor is the other 35%, the materials prices really matter. What is important to know is that the most of the times the cheapest prices are in the Central Valley. Once again, while building a project in San Carlos, even I bought many materials at local depots and hardware stores, I bought a very good package in the Central Valley and, even paying transportation, the final price was cheaper than if I would have done that in locals. Just one example, the price per cement bag was 2 USD less than buying to locals and I bought around one thousand bags, so at the end the economy was around 10 thousand USD, considering the different kinds of supplies. If the project is not a turnkey one but it is and administration project, as I do often for customers, these clients will enjoy the benefits of these economy.

So, my piece of advice is asking for different bids before making your final decision.

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