How to Convert Costa Rica Farms to Building Land
When looking for real estate in Costa Rica, it is very likely that you will run into properties under agricultural use.
This kind of property is registered as agricultural land (uso agricola) in the public registry (Registro Nacional de Costa Rica) and is almost always a lot cheaper than the land for building.
The overall question is whether it is possible to build on such a property.
The owners will surely tell you that this is always possible, while other people will tell you that it is never possible.
If you do your homework and research some important points, you might find a great investing opportunity in agricultural land.
It is very important to survey a property with agricultural use before making a buying decision.
Properties with this kind of use usually have an area of more than 5,000 square meters (1.23 acres) and normally do not have public services like electricity, water, drainage, or phone lines on site.
It is recommended that you try to convert an agricultural land to a building one because of the great value this will add to the land.
The most important condition for adding value by converting use is an adjoining public road (calle publica), which is essential for a municipal water supply or for water supplied by the public institution AyA (Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados), and for electric and phone lines from the utility monopoly I.C.E. (Instituto Costaricense de Electricidad).
With a public road, municipal garbage collection can also reach the property.
If no public road adjoins the property, the new owner will have to provide a water supply (water pipes, well etc.) and a connection to public electricity, incurring further costs for drilling, electrical towers, transformer, canalization etc.
If the property adjoins a public road and you need a building permit, the first step is to apply for public services and then to convert the agricultural land into a building one.
Building is also possible on agricultural land if the land is far from a public road.
If it has only a private road, but the costs for water installation and electricity are out of proportion, you can still build on the land, but only if the property has a water spring.
If the property has a water spring, but also several water veins close-by, it is almost impossible to get a building permit.
However, even with these constraints, it is possible to get a building permit for only on a certain proportion of the total land area.
By this approach, you might succeed in getting a building permit, but you will not have the option of changing the land use in the future.
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