Building your Dream House in Panama - Part One

Building a house in Panama should be the stuff of dreams. A little forethought will prevent the experience from turning into a nightmare. In this, the first of three articles, we present a list of do’s and don’t regarding building in Panama. 1. Be sure to double check that the property you bought is the property you are going to build on. Obtain a map from the Catastro Office and compare the lot description on your title with the map and a visit to the site.

3. Insist on a building contract to include at least the following:

-a. Starting date and deadlines for completion of the foundation, the walls and roof, wiring, plumbing, painting, and a final inspection
-b. A detailed list of materials needed with prices
-c. A detailed list of all work
-d. A written agreement that any and all work required to finish the house and paid for by you will be covered by the contract.
-e. Agreement as to payment of damages for errors in construction
-f. Detailed list of fines for delays
-g. A schedule of payments as construction progresses with benchmarks to be completed before payments
-h. A walk through at the end of construction at which you must be satisfied and that the house pass any additional inspections required by law before you pay the remainder of what you owe.

4. Be aware that the builder needs a permit issued by Panama Environmental Protection Agency, ANAM, to cut down trees. You will be fined if anyone cuts trees without a permit.

The last and best advice is that if you are uncertain ask for advice and help. What you do not want is to build your dream house on your neighbor’s lot or wake up in the morning staring at a cracked ceiling or worse.

Watch for Part Two

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