Manufactured Homes in Costa Rica

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    Are there US type manufactured homes (Wood Frame) in CR Thanks Bob


    I would like to know this too since we want to build three cabina’s on our lot in Uvita. Thanks Rick


    DrBob and RP, are you asking if anyone is building (1)what are commonly referred to as “mobile homes” and “double wides” in the U.S., (2)factory-manufactured wood framed houses that are delivered on-site on a flatbed truck (pre-fabs), or (3)wooden houses that are built from raw materials on-site?

    In the couple of years we’ve been here, we’ve never seen any sign of a mobile home, double wide or factory-built home. What’s more, delivering a pre-built home (type (1) or type (2) above) on Costa Rica’s narrow, twisty roads would probably be very impractical.

    Construction here is predominantly masonry and for good reasons. It is much easier to build masonry structures that meet the earthquake code, and they’re termite-proof. It is true that there is some wood construction, but it seems to be restricted to very, very modest houses. And wood here is not cheap.


    There are Pre-fab concrete panel homes that they build right on site. They can be constructed pretty quickly, and are pretty reasonable to build. Scott did a story on a company in Escazu who built them about a year and a half ago. You can do a regular search and find a couple of other companies that do the same thing.


    I understand that there are several companies that build prefab concrete homes in CR. Search this site and the web, preferably in Spanish as these homes are marketed to ticos. Some relatives had a 1 bedroom, 600 sq ft. home built for under 20K a year or two ago, included were appliances. Essentially turn key. Land was extra…


    As David points out, wood as the primary building material for housing construction is not practical here in Costa Rica for several reasons. We are approximately 10 degrees north of the equator. A prudent and responsible builder needs to factor in the effects of the suns rays as well as the seismic activity and pest infestation into the selection of building materials here.

    I know an American of Latino descent who has lived and worked here for many years who bought one of the pre-cast concrete home packages years ago and he had additional time and expense with finishing the walls to look decent. Their system uses concrete structural posts that are thicker than the wall panels that fit into them. The pre-fab walls and posts still need to be plastered with concrete to complete the structure. Those systems are only good for storage sheds or other structures that do not need to be finished to look like normal interior and exterior walls.

    Based on my 15 years experience here in Costa Rica, the best product to use from a cost and construction standpoint is traditional 40x20x15cm block with 3/8″ and 1/2″ steel re-rod for vertical reinforcement. As long as there are entrepreneurs there will be new products available and sometimes something new makes sense but perhaps it may not be practical for cost or availability reasons. Unless you have lived and worked in Costa Rica, one thing you wouldn’t realize is that transportation to the beach and mountainous communities can add considerable cost and time to your project. So any new products that are not distributed throughout the country by the major building supply companies will be a hassle to get to the building site, on-time and within budget.

    Traditional concrete blocks have been used by builders around the globe since the beginning of time and more recently to build Habitat for Humanity homes throughout the world. The blocks’ convenient availability and ease of lifting was the selling point for the Habitat projects, as they are dependent on volunteer labor. These traditional blocks are all 40cm long and 20cm tall with three variable widths of 12cm ($.51), 15cm ($.64) or 20cm ($.90). Along with these blocks I would install steel reinforcement, re-rod, of 3/8″ ($3.51) and for columns 1/2″ ($6.24).

    Another product available here is SuperBloque. This product is basically an over sized block that the local tradesmen do not like because of its weight and bulk. When a mason is installing these blocks the labor is complicated by the fact that each block must be lifted on top of the previously installed blocks and it is more difficult than regular sized block. Therefore the fit and distribution of concrete mortar is sacrificed for less quantity of blocks. The width and strength of the vertical steel reinforcement rods (columns) which support the block wall system and horizontal concrete support system (headers) that will support the roof structure that are part of the SuperBloque package are only 1/4″. These thin steel reinforcement rods and the smaller poured concrete columns that will support the entire structure are marginal and in the event of seismic movement would give out much sooner that a larger vertical steel reinforced column construction system like I install in my traditional concrete block construction method.

    The additional hassle of using the SuperBloque is that they only sell them through a few distributors by the square meter ($25.75 m2) including the steel reinforcement, re-rods, which are only 1/4″ ($1.27) and in my opinion are inadequate.

    Traditional vertical concrete support columns are 12″ x 8″ and reinforced with six 1/2″ thick steel rods and then the horizontal support headers are 12″ x 8″ with six 1/2″ steel rods. There is additional labor involved in order to assemble the steel reinforcement and install the quantity of blocks used in the traditional construction method but the tradesmen are familiar and accustomed to this method and therefore take pride in the quality of their installation therefore the consumer receives a higher quality finished product. I sleep much better at night knowing my building structures are anti seismic and do not develop fissure cracks prematurely which require much more maintenance for the owners. As was discussed in a previous posting, painting and preparation of poorly installed concrete surfaces is not only expensive but also unsightly until repaired.

    I have close up photos of all the above construction methods as well as the Endless Beach Condos that were taken on July 23, 2007 on Potrero Beach, Guanacaste that I would be happy to send you offline. I built these buildings 50 meters from the salt water of the Pacific Ocean in 1993 and 1994 with the traditional concrete block construction method. In the photos you can see that during the last 13 years they have withstood seismic movement as well as constant salt water and radiation from the sun.


    The Pre-fab concrete panel homes are completely reinforced, and completely finished inside and out to your specifications. You can design your own layout. They are strong and can handle seismic activity, they are certainly not sheds.


    It’s comfortable to know that there are experienced people like you out there who understand what is involved with the finishing methods of the construction of homes in Central America. Over the years I have been hired by several foreigners to inspect the construction of pre-fab home packages they have purchased here in CR. Unfortunately, for the owners, the costs to finish these supposedly turn-key, pre-fab designs has always been more costly and time consuming.


    Those “foreigners” should have been more diligent and vigilant before and during construction. Don’t assume, everyone is that ignorant. Your knowledge and experience is only surpassed by your sarcasm.


    Please help I looking for the last 3 months in the Costa Rica net for Email adress of the prefab builder in Jaco area
    I see his house builded in Playa Narancho last year
    I am very interesting to contact him or any company in CR in order to start planing the my dreem house in Costa Rica
    My adress internet


    Sarcasm like humor can be enjoyed or overlooked. Ignorance like curiosity is why folks ask questions, and on this site, as a group, we are able to provide useful advice to those who seek it. Not everyone has the ability to be diligent and vigilant when moving to a third world country. Gracias a Dios we now have resources such as this site to help each other.

    PS: Peg. How did you or your builder compensate for the inches of difference in the thickness of the columns and pre-cast panels in the interior walls of your pre-fab home?


    I have had some interest in pre fabs and manufactured homes, here is some alternative designs that ain’t your grandma’s double wide as well as two sites of CR companies.


    Not true CR Homebuilder, I hear you put down the concrete and steel prefabs all of the time. It gets old, because it is bad advice. What you tell folks is simply not true. Probably because this is not how you make your money, you are selling conventional construction. Nothing wrong with that method, but there are other methods.

    Prefabs meet the code and they can be as lovely as you desire, totally custom built to your specs. I know this to be true, I have built these homes on my farm. My ceilings in my custom home are 14’5″ high, my home is exactly what I wanted. It is not Tico by any means.

    The wall finish is what you want, how you want it.

    Let’s not put down viable building methods for the sake of lining your pocket.

    If you are interested in prefab concrete and steel construction, you should continue to investigate this option. A custom home can be built in 3-4 months.

    The Voz Que Clama Mission in Tuis is building it new resident’s facility using this method. I believe it is 7,000 sq feet, in it’s second month of construction and it is lovely. It meets every government code and all of the disability requirements for the disabled patients who will live there.

    We will continue to build using prefab, it is a fabulous idea who time has come.


    Edited on Jul 29, 2008 07:52


    “How did you or your builder compensate for the inches of difference in the thickness of the columns and pre-cast panels in the interior walls of your pre-fab home?”

    I am sure that Peg can answer this question on her own. It is not a problem!

    How do you work around exposed roof trusses? I just finished doing this in my home. As a contractor builder, you should know that building materials are just a pile of materials. It is all about what you, the contractor, builder, does with them. When building any home, using any material, you must arrange the materials to get your end result as you want it. This technique is no different.

    These homes are not sheds by any means. Shame on CR Homebuider for not knowing the difference, as a builder you should know how to work with various materials. If not stay away from them.

    The joy of owning your dream home is not about how much money you can pay the home builder, although he would like the money. It is about you having your dream. Dreams are not always delivered by spending the most money.

    Prefab concrete and steel homes can be as lovely and as long lasting as any other home.


    Ginnee. Thanks for your links to the pre-fab construction site and your blog. I hope that your satisfaction with the construction method you’re using continues.

    I have been a custom homebuilder for 26 years and have been building here as well as conducting land and construction inspections on behalf of clients who value my experience and insight since 1992.

    Over the years, I’ve used several construction methods; Wood frame, steel frame, CBS and the Pre-Fab concrete panel system, for construction not considered “living areas.”

    Additionally, I have many satisfied customers who recommend me to others. If you care to review my experience, simply Google search, Tom Rosenberger.

    Everyone is entitled to their opinions, without others making accusations about their motives.

    Freedom to choose and TOLERANCE of others, and their opinions, is something we all value here.
    Slander and defamation are criminal offenses in Costa Rica, as is published on WLCR at;

    I’m offended by the public accusations you’ve made against me on WLCR. Perhaps you should re-consider your defamatory public statements about my financial motives that you have no knowledge of.

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