Congratulations! You have decided to buy a home in Costa Rica. You have narrowed the choices or even decided which home you want to buy. Be careful, though — you are well advised to know exactly what you plan to buy before making an offer on the home. In almost every case, the amount spent on the inspection report will save you at least 10 times that amount for necessary improvements in the near future. An inspection will likely reveal that repair work is needed, with an estimated cost that enables you to negotiate a better price on the home. This also gives you a better idea of how safe your investment will be in the future, and peace of mind knowing you have purchased a well-built home.

Structural aspects such as concrete walls and beams should be checked for strength and quality, as well as structural damage. Inspection of the roof’s condition makes it possible to estimate its remaining lifetime calculated in years. Inspection of the flooring and wall finishes is also important, including showers and bathroom tile. Commonly reported flooring deficiencies include broken or loose tiles and lack of grout sealant.

Costa Rica is known for its faulty plumbing. A thorough inspection of plumbing throughout the home, and also the septic tank when opened, will likely uncover issues such as lack of venting or an undersized or improperly built septic system.

Costa Rica’s electrical code has been updated many times in recent years. So unless the home is brand-new (and possibly despite being new), findings of ungrounded outlets, switches and even entire electrical systems are not surprising. That may be fine and need not prevent you from buying the home. However, rewiring costs hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars, and neglecting to do so can cause issues with appliances, computers and other electrical devices. Besides missing grounds, electrical systems are often found to lack protected outlets or have undersized electrical lines. All A/C units, fans and lights should be tested to see if they are working.

In many instances, woodwork in the home will need refinishing and metal work repainting. Roof repairs may be necessary, and exterior wood on fascias and overhangs almost always needs refinishing due to lack of maintenance. If rotting wood is found, replacement is expensive.

In addition to reviewing the quality of home construction and finishes, an inspection can bring to light potential drainage and runoff issues that may present themselves in the near future. It can also provide an indication of construction costs and replacement value of buildings and structures.

Arming yourself with a complete understanding of the Costa Rican home you plan to buy will help you make the best investment possible. Avoid surprises and additional costs in the future by spending a small amount before purchasing. It’s certain to save you money in the long run.