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To Build or Not to Build

There are plenty of lots and land for sale here in the Chapala area and many people wonder should they build a home from
scratch or buy an existing one. This is not a simple question… let’s see if we can unravel some of the mysteries

There are pros and cons on both sides of the equation and a lot of it comes down to your own temperament and personality. It would be impossible to cover all the details in this article so let’s look at a few of the major issues and see if we can help you decide for yourself.

A couple benefits of building a home

When you build your own home you can get exactly what you want – number of rooms, size of the windows, types of floors, etc. and for many people in the area this will be the last home they own so they’d like it to be perfect!


Not only is labour cheaper here in Mexico, so are most building materials, land costs, permits, taxes and so on.  Because of this you can (usually) get a lot of house for a modest amount of money.  At the same time you will need to factor in a few not-so-obvious costs such building permits (these can vary wildly) IMSS
(medical insurance) for the workers, soil tests, architect fees, and so on.  But of course this depends on the area you are looking at building in etc., for
example you can get a 2,800 sq. ft. older home in Chapala Haciendas for $135,000US it would be pretty hard to build something for less than that.

The Drawbacks of Building


Probably the biggest negative to building is unpredictability. Will you go over budget (almost certainly yes!), will the construction take longer than projected, will the building permits have any issues, and so on. Building a home can get stressful so if you’re not up for it don’t do it! All of these unforeseen snags can add up to more stress and more money than you were anticipating.

Who Are My Neighbors??

Generally speaking, when you buy land it will be in an area that isn’t fully developed yet and for this reason, you probably don’t know what might get built beside, in front, or behind you! If the area is dual-zoned as commercial/residential you could end up with a body shop as a neighbor and be forced to smell paint fumes all day long! So if
you’re going to go the building route do your homework and find out how the area is zoned. And while you’re at it make sure to look into infrastructure. Is
there enough infrastructure (phone lines, sewers, water, roads etc.) to support the future development of the area you chose.

A place to live in the meantime

Some houses can easily take a year or more to build and in this time you will need a place to live and this can add to the cost and stress of building a home especially if the builder goes over on time.  If you are currently living in a home and you plan to move into the new one in 6 months you might put your current house for sale, and let’s suppose you get an offer and agree to a closing date only to find out your new house will be delayed by 2 months! Now what!? You’ll likely need to rent something short-term, and move all your furniture twice! The same thing can happen if you are renting, you give notice on your current place only to find out your new house isn’t ready!

So What are the Benefits of Buying an Existing Home?

Well I suppose the opposite of everything mentioned above! When you buy an existing home you will know who your neighbors are, you will have a good idea of the cost of utilities and property taxes etc. and you will see exactly what you are buying without having to visualize anything. You might still have infrastructure issues and let’s not rule out constant maintenance on an older home – roof, paint, driveway, etc. etc.

This article only scratches the surface of a very complex topic but hopefully it has given you a few things to think about in regards to building vs. buying a home in Mexico. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us here.