What does it cost to build a house here?

This keeps coming up, so let me throw in some opinions.

First , my suggestions are of a house that a small family of middle income foreigners will be happy in for the long haul. Keep in mind that these comments are coming from someone who has spent most of his life living in houses of less than 1200 sf in average southwestern US neighborhoods. If you have lesser or higher standards, make your adjustments accordingly

My experiences reflect time spent in Esteli but are not meant as a recommendation for living in Esteli. Land prices vary considerably in the country with the tourist/expat areas more expensive and the small towns less so. Esteli prices seem to be pumped up by remittances and foreign projects.

First. A lot sufficiently large enough to be comfortable and insulate you a little from the neighbors would measure about 15 by 30 meters, roughly 5000 sf. In a neighborhood not excessively grubby and with utilities available this will cost 15 to 18,000 usd and be hard to find because so much of the land has been divided up into 10 by 21 lots. Having to piece together 2 or 3 lots to get one big enough for you can drive the price up over 20k.

Second, construction of a 1000sf house of decent materials at 20/sf equals 20,000 usd. This should get you the extras, such as glass windows, indoor plumbing, ceramic floors, doors that aren’t pine, electric lights and plugs in every room, and a roof that doesn’t flap in the breeze.

Third, allow 5000 usd for your security fence.

If utilities are available to the property, hookup costs are negligible, as are permit fees.

So far this adds up to about about 45k, but there is more!

Don’t forget the soft costs, such things as mileage, lunch for the workers, night watchman, rental housing for you, paying the neighbors for use of water and power, etc. While these might seems like minor items, multiply them by 6 days a week and then by an untold number of months, and they start to add up. The mason alone may take 3 to 6 months just to do his part, depending on rain and holidays in particular. Then come the roofer, finish carpenter, wire-stringer, etc. At first you think the labor is poorly paid down here, which it may be, but when you see their methods and materials you will understand the situation better. Their time is worth little; your time is worth nothing.

So as a bare minimum, add another 20% for soft costs and contingencies and keep this money available. In round terms, your little dream house is now up to 55k.

The above assumes you have the time, patience, language skills, and construction experience to be subbing and supervising the job. If not, add more money for an engineer or contractor with enough experience to do the job. This may be very good money spent for many people, but I have no idea of the cost.

This probably boosts your cost up to the 60-70 range, a bargain in many parts of the US, a luxury house in NW Nic.

But notice the above does not include landscaping, hardscaping, covered patio or garage unless you somehow managed to squeeze them in under your 20 % fudge factor.

If you decide to bail for whatever reason, your marketability would be poor in this price range because the locals just don’t have that kind of money and there are few foreign buyers. You could probably rent the house out for $300 a month.

These are the numbers as I see them. 75k should do it. Buena suerte.

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Please elaborate about the

Please elaborate about the methods and materials angle you spoke of .

I posted something here ...22k


Doors of hope fly open when doors of promise shut. -Thomas D'Arcy McGee


good post! i can't get enough posts about building...

House size

One important consideration is house size. If you live in Houston or Deluth, most of the year you will be doing everything inside. In northern Nicaragua that is just not going to be the case. Year-round, the weather is such that you can spend most of your time outside.

What that means is you need bedrooms, a bathroom or two, a covered kitchen, a secure place for you TV, stereo, ... and not much more. Even in my huge house in Estelí (six bedrooms, large office, large livingroom, 3-1/2 bathrooms, the diningroom, for example, was outside. It was under the cover of part of the second floor but open to the yard on two sides.

The house we have built at CoolTop is about 500 sq. ft. It includes a livingroom, decent-sized (but funny shape) kitchen, bathroom and two bedrooms. I think it is the right size. Ana is starting to think so as well.

Now, outside the house is a covered laundry area (washing machine and lavandero) and a big garage which might actually be used for one someday but, right now, it is my office and storage for all the unsorted stuff we have.

About five years ago, when I was house shopping, I looked at houses in one "development". It was about 2km east of the center of Estelí but still very much in the urban area. The "typical" house was 3 bedrooms, one bath. Lot much too small but the house was complete and had a one-car garage. My guess is that it was about 1000 sq. ft. Cost: $20,000.

The most important thing you can do is not buy anything until you have lived in the area you think is where you want to live for at least six months with a year being better. Any inflation in prices will be more than offset by you figuring out what you really need and making the right connections to get a good price.

55 k

I was ready to star my house, in a residential area here in Estelí, but due to Ortegas comeback to power , i been delayed till see what are the future of Nicaragua.

. Project cost made by a Architect company, of my house 2000 sqft, is about $55k, you must added the land price $20k, but taken the project in my hands, i can dropped maybe 20% -25%, the profit of the contractor.

. That make a 3 bed,2bath, living,kitchen,corridor,laundry room and 180° driveway with Breezeway/Portico, and brick fence in two side with state fence wit wrought iron in the other two sides with a double gate in front .

One of the choice to low cost, is the modern design,straight and plain , with out cornices, facia, or whatever design that can rise the cost.

The estras cost

Anywhere the cost of the house itself depends on the extras. Even in the States, the basic ¨shell¨only costs about 50% of the time and money. All the finish work adds the other 50%, but in the states this finish work is necessary (such as heating) or is code/tradition dictated (like ceilings and window screens).

For example, just the finish on the bricks raises the price considerably. The standard finish, which I call ¨baby butt¨ is cheap and standard here. Sisado, repellado, afinado, and another one whose name I forget get increasingly expensive. I would recommend at least repellado (stuccoed) on all exterior walls to help keep out blowing rain, dust, insects, etc.

Likewise, if your lot already has one or more security walls this is a great savings. And cost per foot should drop with a bigger house, if you don´t run into engineering problems.

I agree with your hesitation to invest with the current political situation. There is no reason to panic or leave, but this is an unwise time to bring in new money. Wolf investors, on the other hand, should come back in the year preceding the Nic. presidential elections to look for bargains.

¨Latin America devours its revolutionaries¨ -Simon Bolivar