Building in Costa Rica: The Roberto Meza Interview

In a new series of videos about Costa Rica real estate, travel agent Richard Bexon talks to those in the know about all things property-related. In his second video/podcast, he discusses building in Costa Rica with Roberto Meza from Sphera Sostenible, a consulting and construction company focusing on sustainable development.

As a travel pro in Costa Rica, there’s a lot I need to learn about real estate. So I launched a series of YouTube videos where I chat to real estate professionals around Costa Rica.

I’m trying to learn something myself about what’s going on in Costa Rican real estate, and if my videos can help you learn something as well, then that’s all good.

My guest here is Roberto Meza, owner of Sphera Sostenible. Sostenible means sustainable in Spanish, and sustainable is one of Costa Rica’s watchwords. Sustainable development, sustainable construction, sustainable living… it’s the essense of all things Costa Rica.

Roberto and his team work on and/or consult on construction projects all over Latin America, although their main focus is Costa Rica. They work on both commercial and residential projects.

In today’s interview, Roberto talks about why he believes Costa Rica is still a good place to invest in, even during these current times.

Talking from the beaches of Nosara, Guanacaste, he stresses the importance of due diligence when buying land to construct on in Costa Rica, from legal rights to potable water availabilty to knowing about tectonic faults. Check out what he says in the video below.

If you’re interested in buying land in Costa Rica to build on, please watch the above video. You’ll learn something about what’s happening down here. If you prefer a podcast format to a video, you’ll find that below:

In our conversation, Roberto expands on Costa Rica’s system of titled land vs concessioned land, and the importance of getting a good lawyer to help you when buying land.

The last thing you need is to buy land you can’t do what you want on, and Costa Rica’s zoning laws can be tricky to navigate without legal advise.

Roberto always recommends a good law firm that knows the area well where you’re buying, and is expert on real estate. He also offers some rough ideas of legal bills, although these will vary depending on the size of the law firm, location, and the land you’re buying.

Three major tips Roberto offers for those doing their due diligence are as follows:

  1. You can’t build within 50 meters of the highest water point of any river or creek that runs through your property. If you have a small property with water running through the center, chances are you won’t be able to construct at all. Be careful of that.
  2. Watch out if any roads adjecent to your property have extention plans attached to them. If they do, the government can widen the road across your property.
  3. Costa Rica takes its environmental laws very seriously. Do not mess around with them. You can go to jail for ignoring permits and permissions to cut down trees and negatively impact the environment. And you’ll find very little sympathy for your cause either.

Roberto is a builder, so his natural inclination is to want people to construct their own properties, rather than buy existing buildings.

That said, he offers some sensible, good advice on the buy vs build debate, and admits that from his own sustainable point of view, he’s happier to renovate an existing building than construct from scratch, in order to preserve the surrounding environment as much as possible.

For those who decide to buy land and start from scratch, Roberto talks about timelimes, from purchase of property through to completed construction. Spoiler alert: It takes time, but is worth it!

He talks at length about the trials and pitfalls of building a property, the changes, the moving parts, renderings, and so on. If you’re fine dealing with that, if you have time on your hands, that’s fine. If you don’t, it might be worth hiring a project management company to look after everything for you.

Building your dream home or your dream business in Costa Rica can be the best thing you’ve ever done, but overall Roberto knows that you’ll be far happier knowing in advance what’s ahead to have a smooth experience.

 

 
 
 
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I also ask Roberto about the “hottest” places in Costa Rica, the places he see the most construction happening in.

He mentions Nosara, Playa Grande, Puerto Viejo, and the La Fortuna areas as “hot” and also talks about the kind of new places that could exist in a post-pandemic world as digital nomads come into the country. We’ll see more shared-office spaces built.

Watch/listen to Roberto and I talk in detail about all the topics mentioned above. Anyone interested in building a residential or commercial property in Costa Rica will find this essential.

Contact Roberto right here or through LinkedIn. You can also reach out to Sphera Sostenible on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn

I hope you enjoy this video/podcast and I’ll be in touch soon with the next one. We’ve already created a few more of these chats on our YouTube page, if you want more right now.

Also, feel free to join our Costa Rica Real Estate & Investments Advice & Discussion Facebook group to learn more about real estate in Costa Rica.

Related:

Costa Rica Real Estate: The Scott Cutter Interview
Buying a Costa Rica Vacation Rental: The David Karr Interview

Richard Bexon has lived in Costa Rica since 2002 and is a co-owner of the Namu Travel Group.