Construction Costs in Mexico

By: Dolores Perez-Islas

SILMEXICO

Cost to build a house in Mexico.

There are so many factors to take into consideration, to give you an exact estimate of what it will cost to build your home, however we can guide you to getting great value for money. The way you design your house and the finishes you want will greatly affect the cost of construction. The range of construction costs go from $7,000 MXN to $15,000 MXN per sq. mt. The cost to build in Mexico will depend not only on the finishings or area where you want to build, there are some other factors to consider.

For example the new “beach style” is relatively easy to build, modern and affordable. It entails polished concrete floors and little tile usage. Bathrooms have a smooth cement on the walls. Spaces are more open and there are less finishing touches that add up. This type of modern and clean design can make your dream come true at a much cheaper price.

Labor costs in Mexico are lower than most countries people are coming from. Just to give you an idea of prices, a construction worker (albañiles , a common name of a people who works with concrete) gets between 200 and 400 pesos on average per day. This would be most of the crew building your house. This is often what construction workers in other countries get in one hour!

Where you build your house, at what standards you want and how complicated it is, will dictate the skill level of your laborers. Overall labor cost are what makes building a house in Mexico much more affordable.

Materials are more standard in price thanks to globalization and international trade. Prices for concrete, concrete blocks, and rebar are slightly lower but are similar in price to other countries.

Some things are the same or more than other countries. This can include tiles, faucets, and lighting fixtures.

Learning local materials and building practices will save you a lot on your home.

If you are looking to build a house, here are some factors you need to consider:

Think about the cost of land and permit process to build in Downtown and beach areas.

  1. Once you get into some of the newer parts of a Mexican city or just outside you will need to think about electricity, it can also mean less cell signal and internet. This can mean going off grid especially in the green communities in Mexico. The good news about choosing to build a house out of the center or outside of town is that the amount of restrictions are less and there is an easier permit process.
  2. In a planned community there are developments with lots for sale.These areas can be attractive because they are regulated and you can have some assurance of how the area develops. This does however mean that you have certain restrictions on what you build, size and many other restrictions. Some of these are so restrictive it means basically picking a model of approved houses and deciding on finishes.

DESIGN YOUR DREAM HOUSE

The normal step is first to find an architect. They can draw up plans on what you want. The good news is that there are many architects and assistants here in Mexico. Many work affordably and this can be a money saving step over building a house in another place.

Most architects will know either construction companies or builders to work with. Some work hand in hand and others can refer you to people. We do mention construction companies and builders separate. Construction companies are more a one stop for having a general contractor as well as facilitators to process permits. Builders or Albañiles  arethe people that do the hands on construction.

Things to consider during the process of construction:

 

  • Building methods are very different in Mexico. There is no wood framing and everything is concrete. Concrete blocks and poured cement are the basic makeup of buildings here. The most obvious reasons are the climate and limited timbers.
  • Houses usually start with a rock foundation. From there the walls are built with a combination of rebar enforced pillars and filled in with concrete block. Second floors and roofs are made with concrete beams (vigas) and filled in with special concrete blocks or blocks of Styrofoam.
  • Once the basic structure is up, plumbers and electricians chip out channels in the walls to run wire and tubes. After they have things in place they will go pack and patch the walls.
  • Windows are all measured after building the holes for them. Most windows are “custom made” this way.
  • The outside walls are prepped with a sealer before painting . The roof is often covered with a red or while sealant to help keep out water.

 

Where to buy materials?

You can find Home Depot stores, this is a one stop shopping store for your building materials. Also you can find the some local stores that specialize in certain materials. Some stores sell paint some plumbing supplies and others tile. This might seem a bit tiring to check all the different stores but they do come in handy when you need answers to your questions and detailed advice. Most of the time staff is very knowledgeable and helpful.

When building a house the labor cost and materials are separated. If you are doing more of the general contracting work, it will be expected of you to get list of materials and order them. This process works well because laborers can focus on the job and you also get a part in controlling the materials.

Controlling materials for construction

Materials for building your home will add up and can get out of control. To those who have never built a house in Mexico before, the amount of concrete, block and rebar is not really something you can estimate. Therefore it is good to keep control over this so you are not paying for too much.

One way to start is by having the construction company you choose write up a detailed list of materials with cost. Getting this proposal will give you an idea on how much you will spend. If you do enter into a contract with a construction company, make it clear in the contract who pays for extra materials needed and to what percent you are responsible for.

If you are going to be onsite during construction this will give you an opportunity to keep an eye on materials. Making sure everything gets delivered and that none of the workers are taking or selling materials on the side. This can happen and having a good contractor or you onsite will help prevent this.

Paying labor and insurance

Traditionally large construction companies pay workers on the 1st and 15th of the month. If you work with a construction company you may only need to make a deposit and then set up a payment schedule. If you are going to be working more closely with the laborers then it is normal to pay every Saturday afternoon, it is very common in Mexico. Most construction workers work 5 1/2 days a week.

If you are having any work done, it is customary to have a small upfront payment. This is not with individual workers, just the people like bosses or general contractors. The deposit payment can go for things like renting equipment and covering the cost of the start to construction.

The initial payment is normally about 1/10th the overall cost, then it is broken down into payments and a reserve of about 20% as a final payment once everything is done. This last payment will keep assured the finishing touches will get done.

Insurance for those building your house

In Mexico it is required for everyone to have IMSS (social security). This is the healthcare coverage for everyone working. It is important to get it in writing who is making the payments to IMSS. Either the construction company can make payments or you. This is only basic coverage but it is important for people working hard to have it. If you are caught without providing it, you will get fined, often on the value of the project.

I hope this gives you some basic information to get you started. Building is rewarding but also very stressful. Calculate the cost before jumping in. Most people will tell you to expect it to take longer and run over cost of what you are told. There are many things that make building in Mexico unique. If you go ahead with it, it will be a learning process and hopefully in the end you have just what you wanted. Remember stay relaxed and do not obsess over a project. Things are done at a different speed in Mexico, building your own project smartly will help you to save money and get your house designed exactly the way you want, especially if you are planning to invest in a real estate market limited in inventory. At SILMEXICO we have some great opportunities for you to start this building venture in Oaxaca, Huatulco, Puerto Escondido, México city, Yucatan, Guadalajara and Mazatlan, check it out at: www.silmexico.com

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