Homebuilding in the DR the inexpensive (Dominican) way
I thought I would start a thread for those interested in homebuilding in the DR the economical way - the way Domincans do it. As an engineer by trade I have a good deal of experience working with contractors. In fact I used to work for a general contractor as well. This was in the US but I feel it is still relevant.
The advantage of this "method" is that one will have the ability to significantly reduce the cost of a home, by a range of 40% and up - depending on the size of the house. In effect, one will be acting as the "General Contractor" and therefore will be required to buy the material. Therefore, if you don't have time on you hands or have a trustworthy person who can buy the materials AND have a decent working knowledge of Spanish, reading and writing, this way won't be for you.
In summary, the cost savings comes from contracting directly with a "maestro of construction" to manage the constuction for a fixed fee. This will be much more economical for the simple reason is that typically maestros aren't very wealthy and one can negotiate a decent fee AND most importantly doesn't need to make a lot of profit on the project in order to have funds for his next project - this is the case for most homebuilders and for that reason they need to charge so much more than a maestro. For example, the home I bought cost me RD3.7M with the cost estimated to be RD2.0M inlcuding the property. The cost of the house was a steal but nontheless the homebuilder made a profit of RD1.7M in about 4 months of work - not bad. If I had done this with a maestro the my cost would have been around RD2.2M for a cost savings of around RD1.5M.
First, the property must be obtained. This can be done by various methods as posted here in the DR but basically consist of working with a realtor or the property owner directly. Also, for whatever method one chooses at the very least make sure the title research is done. FYI title research CAN be done by a registered surveyor regardless of what some may tell you, even lawyers here in DR. Typically, a lawyer will charge a lot more for the service than a surveyor.
As an added security measure, title insurance CAN be had here in the DR by a reputable title company from the US - please search DR1 for this info.
Also, if getting a loan is necessary I higly recommend sending a PM to JRR to find out about rates. the reason being is that the rates one gets here in the DR just can't compare with what this guy can offer IF one his good credit in the States. For example, I am paying a rate of 17% but will be re-financing it with JRR for a rate around 9% or so.
Second, the crux of this method depends on finding a reputable, honest and fair "maestro de construccion". This may seem to be a tall order to find in the DR but they can be found. FYI, every homebuilder and engineer here in the DR will have a "maestro" directing the construction so there are many around. The thing is is to find one with the experience not only to build the house and manage the construction but also to be able to estimate materials and labor in order to adequately calculate the total cost of construction.
Third, the design of the home will need to be done and an Architect/Engineer needs to be contracted to do the plans and have them signed and sealed. Think this should cost a lot - think again - prices can be had for this for a two story home from RD5k on up(depending on how much you want to pay).
Fourth, a cost estimate will be need to be done by the mastro AND his fee that he will charge and how much time he will take. For four months work a fee of RD120,000 to RD200,000+ will be more than reasonable. To keep this in perspective, most maestros will be making RD15,000 a month for their services - good pay in the DR so what you will be paying them will be a very good pay and you will still be saving tons of money. It may be prudent to have a lawyer create a contract to sign explaining the terms and such and DR1 has many references for such.
Fifth, one will need to find at least a few ferreteria's in the area that will have the building materials and finish items. The easiest way will be to establish a line of credit to be paid of monthly or weekly - check with them about their terms.
Once this is all set up the next step is to get started. One of the very first things that will need to happen is to secure the property with a fence. Also, one will HAVE to have a full time person to stay their to guard the materials. I know it may seem to be a tall order but one's best bet is to pass by a church and talk with the pastor, whether Catholic or Protestant about regular churchgoers who he could recommend. For that matter, this would be a good starting point to find a maestro as well. Expect to pay RD6000 for this service(a good fee BTW - RD4000 is normal).
Remember, one will have to visit the site frequently and also should really go with the maestro to get the materials but failing that, pass by the site on a frequent basis to review the receipts and confirm them with the ferreteria and follow the construction. In the contract their should be a clause about be able to release the maestro for performance reasons. Also, the workers will have to be paid on a weekly basis, including the maestro. It will behoove one to keep track of the pay records and receipts of materials to compare the progress of the work.
Perhaps the most important part of the method will be finding a good maestro. The best way to do this is to talk with people and find out if they have one who has done work for them that they can recommend. This way one can check out the actual work that has been done to see if it is comparable to similar work in terms of quality, etc.
Last edited by Robert; 12-04-2011 at 08:18 PM.
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Great advice. I was just speaking with my wife this weekend while walking through Mega Centro about buying some land and building a house. Thanks.
Fantastic post and right on the money. I agree 100%.So many people overpay and greedy housebuilders drive a new Mercedes.
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Nice post, it's now a sticky!
Any other ideas or thoughts to add to this thread?
To add to Chip00's great post, it should be interessant to know some places where man can find good deals for the most important building materials like blocks, cement, rebar or concrete mixed/truck.
It's well known that prices are not the same for Dominicans and gringos but is it all over the place ?
Did those prices generally increase or decrease with the approach of the elections ? Or nothing to do with ?
That's a dynamite post, Chip. My wife took charge of the whole process of having our house built in the DR the Dominican way. She even designed the house and supervised the "maestro". The result is that we now have a beautiful, large two story house that I would never be able to afford here in the US. What's best is that we have no mortgage to pay, though it did take about 4 years for the house to be completely finished.
For foreigners building a house in the DR you had better follow Chips advice to the letter if you don't want to get ripped off. It's best to have a trusted local do all the negotiations.
Like the thread you seem to know your stuff any ideas on the current price for Roof Tiles? Also looking for a good guy to make Woodern windows??
I'm afraid I'm not up to date on specific prices other than normal wages.
Originally Posted by thurston
As far as a person to make wooden windows I'm not sure. I have a good friend who is a maestro who may know somebody in the Santiago area if you want me to check. Send me a pm if you are interested.
Here's a link to an old post about this topic, where Rick Snyder (RIP), myself, and some others, posted some of our experiences and advice regarding building in DR. Enjoy!
This is such helpful post, full of sound advice. Thanks.
Whilst I haven't built my own property here yet, I am more and more aiming towards that as rental prices keep soaring and there is nothing to see for it at the end of the day. I will probably have to do it the Dominican way, block by block, but am looking forward to the experience.
I already have the Maestro lined up - he has worked on many well-known and regarded projects and also countless private homes. I also know of a very good carpenter for windows etc, which someone was asking about.
If anyone would like further details please send me a Personal Mail.