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What you should expect to pay for…

Everyone asks how much should be paid for professional fees and how much does construction will cost. Here is useful information for those interested.


Each project is designed according to the clients needs, based on the premise that each person is a unique entity and different from the others, has his own taste and consequently, his own needs. A few meetings are necessary to determine number and size of bedrooms, location of specific areas, style, and so on. A professional designer's fee -Architect or Engineer- is 1% to 2% of construction cost. The percentage will depend on the experience and preparation of the professional.

Let us say your project will have an estimated cost of 150 thousand dollars, then the project -including design, structural calculations and building blueprints will have a cost of between 1,500 and 3,000 dollars. The cost is determined in the first meetings, never after the project is finished. As the difficulty of the design increases, the fees will also increase. For example, a design with a double height ceiling with an interior over hanged balcony and large spans between columns will cost more than a conventional distribution. A complete project shall always contain the following blueprints and information:

  • Floor Layouts. Including first, second or third floor if exists. Foundation Layout.

  • Structure Layout. Including first, second or third floor if exists.

  • Hydraulic Installation Layout.

  • Sanitary Installation Layout.

  • Electric Installation Layout.

  • Gas installation Layout.

  • Aerial view of project.

  • Location of project.

  • Construction details such as Staircase Ramp, Sanitary Drop Boxes, Septic Tanks (when needed) Foundation, Beams, Columns, Slabs.

  • Elevations. Showing heights, axis and dimensions of all Facades.

  • Sections. Showing heights, axis and dimensions of all interior details.

  • Structural Mathematic Calculation. This is an analytical and mathematical process that determines size, characteristic and dimension of the structural elements of the project. Remember that Concrete Structural Elements are not a guess and one cannot find them in charts. They are a result of a Calculation where the sums of loads are carried through mathematical formulas to obtain sections of beams and columns as well as their steel reinforcement.

Three dimension drawings are often part of an added cost. It will depend very much on the artist that creates them. Average cost would be 150 - 180 dollars for one very good quality presentation. If you receive an offer of a set of Blueprints for 0.5% -for example- of construction cost BE AWARE, a scam might be in process. Either you met a "wanna be" architect or you will not receive what is needed to submit for your building permit.


To obtain a building permit, blueprints with the above-mentioned specifications will be required. Also paperwork must be delivered along with 5 copies of the complete set of Blueprints. The following is the amount of requirements needed to submit for a Building Permit:

  • Application signed by owner and by Expert Construction Surveyor. (An Expert Construction Surveyor is a member of the Architect or Engineer Bar, experienced in the construction field and authorized by the Municipal Government to supervise the process of the Building Permit Paperwork. In Mexico he is called a "Perito Responsible", "Director Responsable de Obra" or simply "DRO". Without his signature and authorization it is useless to apply for a Building Permit).

  • 5 Copies of blueprints signed by Expert Construction Surveyor.

  • When exceeding 2152 sq ft. A Construction Log Book signed by Expert Construction Surveyor and by owner.

  • Copy of receipt from the local Architects or Engineers bar of which the Expert Construction Surveyor is member.

  • Property Deeds (called "escrituras"), or Trust (called "Fideicomiso"), or Sales Contract (called "Contrato de Compraventa"), or Rental Contract (called "Contrato de Renta").

  • Copy of Land Tax receipt. (Present year, not last year's receipt).

  • Copy of Cedula Catastral. Issued by the Land Department.

  • Copy of the Water Bill or No Service Record issued by the Water Department.

  • Copy of Structural Mathematic Calculation signed by Structural Mathematic Surveyor and by Expert Construction Surveyor.

  • Copy of Environmental Permit -when required-

  • Copy of Federal Zone Permit -when required-

If owner is not present to sign paperwork then a Power of Attorney will be necessary to allow a third person to sign for him. The cost of the building permit will vary depending on the location of the lot, size and type of home, but an average cost to be taken in consideration would be approximately 60 cents of a dollar per square feet.


There are several issues that can impact in different ways the cost of construction. Location and Conditions of the property are two very important ones.


If the property is out of town, material distributors charge an extra fee for delivering to the job site, and also if there does not exist a bus transportation system out of town, working crews must be taken and brought every day. Workers demand a salary increase (minimum perhaps but increase at last) as they are forced to buy food from the different vendors that arrive to the sites out of town. They claim if they work in town, they could go home at lunchtime and eat, which does not represent an extra cost. It is not the same to transport materials and workers within the skirts of town than to do it to San Francisco Beach.


There are lots that need less investment than others, for instance, buying in a mangrove area increases construction costs maybe 40 or 50% as environmental studies need to be done as well as special environmental permits. Also a wastewater treatment plant is needed instead of a conventional septic tank or even better: instead of connecting to the city sewer line. As mangrove water is salty you might need to install an Inverse Osmosis water plant for potable water. If the property is far enough from the electric lines you might need to bring in the lines toward the property including poles and accessories. If the existing line is high tension you might need to buy a transformer to lower the voltage. This sometimes happens in town as well as out of it. The property could be deep enough to make you invest -let's say bury- your money in fill. Be aware of what you buy and when you buy it. Rainy season can flood the whole area so filling many times is necessary to bring your home above the street level.


Let's say your property is located in town and with no negative conditions. An AVERAGE CONSTRUCTION COST would be between 18,000.00 to 20,000.00 pesos per square meter, (60 to 63 dollars per square feet at 17 pesos per dollar exchange rate) of COVERED SURFACE which includes a totally finished house: foundation, structure, wall and ceiling finishing, tiling, carpentry on doors, closets, kitchen cabinetry, bathroom cabinetry, aluminium windows and slide doors, mosquito screens, air conditioning, fans, lamps, pumps, water heater, connection to the municipal sewer system, paint, door bell, door knobs. 100% finished and ready to move in.

The term "average construction cost" is referred as an approximate cost which could vary depending on the specifications of the desired project, for example type of lamps, faucets, finishing's, type of tile, etc..

By "covered surface" we understand as all surfaces covered by a roof. Swimming pools are considered as covered surfaces as they actually are inverted structures. So then, obviously gardening such as Palm trees, Bushes, Flowers, Grass, Soil, Walkways, Sidewalks, Tennis courts are not covered surfaces therefore represent an extra cost. Remember: Landscaping is determined according to size of land and characteristics of the landscaping itself such as grass, bushes, flowers, palm trees, coconuts etc..

Sidewalks are another issue. All sidewalks and street curbs in town are part of each Municipal Administration infrastructure projects however, you might not want to be willing to wait years till the sidewalk in front of your house is built or repaired by the Municipal Government. You might want to add this cost to your project as according our previous paragraph, it is not "covered surface".

In order to know exactly how much a specific home will cost, a set of blueprints containing all the details and dimensions are necessary to make a complete breakdown and calculate an accurate price. So if the person you have hired hands you one or two legal size sheets of paper saying it is your blueprint or one letter size sheet saying it is your estimate, do not trust him.

In Mexico as in other Countries, Construction field is not a market where you can bargain the price like when purchasing souvenirs. Material prices are established by the Global and National Economy Marketing and Labour fees by Unions. When you ask a builder to cut prices, you might unconsciously be asking to cut quality. By paying fair prices you will receive fair services and you will also be helping our local economy. Remember: the time when glass necklaces were exchanged for golden bracelets ended 200 years ago.


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