7 Tips to a Hassle-Free Design and Building Process

Building your dream house in a tropical paradise is high on the wish list of many prospective expats. But it has the reputation of being a big headache. It doesn’t have to be. The great news is that the process, from buying the lot to constructing the home, can be easy if you follow some simple rules.

1. Start on the right foot by buying a lot with:

  • Clean and clear title (no liens)
  • The correct zoning (residential, not agricultural or commercial –unless you plan to open a business)
  • Building permits (check for restrictions in your area)
  • Access to water (either a well or municipal hook-up) and electric (in rural areas you can wait a long time to be hooked up)

2. Only deal with reputable developers or trusted individual owners. Still, do your due diligence and hire an attorney to thoroughly research the property and the future plans for the area. You want to avoid unpleasant surprises.

3. Often developers will also work with you to build your house. Ask your new neighbors how that option has worked out in the past. If you’re going on your own, get referrals for qualified and trustworthy architects and builders. The crowd at the local watering hole can help you out there. Once you’ve met a team you feel comfortable with, draw up detailed contracts with start and finish dates, a description of the work, and what to do in case of cost overruns.

4. This is your dream house, your chance to build a home from the ground up. So don’t settle for less. Find the appliances, finishings, windows, countertops, and the like, that you want. If it’s not available locally, a trip to the capital may be in order. Or explore custom-made. High-quality craftsmanship for low prices is standard outside the U.S.

5. Fit the home to your surroundings. If you live in an area with a temperate climate, build a large terrace and live outdoors. If you have a view, have picture windows all around. Avoid the expense of air conditioning by positioning the house to admit cool breezes…and keep the windows out of direct sunlight.

6. If you’re living back home while the house is being built, stop by for regular visits to check out construction. And keep in touch with your architect and builder.

7. Examine what the builder’s warranty covers. And get insurance to protect yourself in case the builder can’t finish the project.


Jason Holland
for The Daily Reckoning

Ed. Note: This essay was prominently featured in The Daily Reckoning’s Sunday edition – designed specifically to bring you the most interesting and investable ideas we can’t fit into the week’s regular issues. It’s just one more perk of being a Daily Reckoning subscriber. Don’t miss another issue or investment opportunity. Sign up for the FREE Daily Reckoning email edition, right here.

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