As an architect from the US, adjusting to the new "codes", procedures for entitlements and permitting,
construction techniques, and the cultural differences here in Baja took some time, even after more than 30 years practice in the US! So, it is certainly understandable how a "layman" coming to Mexico to build may have their trepidations!
Although the "codes" here in BCS are essentially similar to the basic UBC codes from the U.S. for Fire and Life Safety, there the similarity starts to diverge. Having an experienced team of designers, contractors, construction managers HERE in Mexico is key to a successful project and peace of mind.
The First Step: Selecting the property.
As with land anywhere, doing your homework is a key ingredient in selecting a property that will not only suit your needs, but your pocketbook, as well. Emotions can run high with the selection of a lot (that breathtaking view or that fantasy of your dream home coming to life) but keeping your head and writing an offer with contingencies for proper due diligence can give you an option to withdraw, if your "homework" yields an unacceptable negative.
What type of negatives should you be looking for? That depends on your dream and the type of lifestyle you want to have. To some people, the ability to have city power or water is an important item. However, it is quite common here in Baja that those items are not in the equation for some buyers.
Example: There are many multi-million dollar homes on the East Cape and the Pacific who are serviced exclusively by their own solar plants, contracted water trucks and/or personal de-sal plants. The payoff...incredible views and tranquility and no more electric/water bills! There are even fringe areas of the urban areas in Los Cabos that are not yet serviced by the city grid. Being off the grid is not always a negative; it can also get your new home involved in a "green-solution" and reduce your monthly operating costs. It is a personal decision.
But, if city services are a big consideration for you, write a contingency for a letter from the utility companies stating you can get service to that lot as part of your offer, called a Letter of Facitities.
|Your realtor can assist you in determining the proper contingencies to include in any offer which may be site specific. As a general rule however, here are some of the other possible items to look for:
a) flood zones or major drainage patterns
b) hilltop areas either with possible building restrictions
c) properties that may require environmental impact reports
d) survey or property line encroachments
e) possible view line blockage
f) suspect foundation issues, such as unstable bedding
g) Title search
Contingencies for "due-diligence" need to be clearly written in your offer to purchase agreement as to what you would not find acceptable and would cause a withdrawal of the offer without penalty, a definite time-period and/or a solution for any problem encountered. Contingencies are your questions. You, as the Buyer, will need to satisfy your questions yourself, either by doing the homework or hiring experts to research this for you. (Your realtor should have many referrals for you for these services.) It is not generally the responsibility of the Seller to provide exculpatory research.
Should a negative occur, all contingencies that would cause a withdrawal need to be presented in writing to the Seller before the time period expires. Be reasonable, there is no such thing as a "perfect piece of dirt", some issues may be just part of the construction process and need to be factored into your equation. But, if there is a significant issue, back-away and don’t give up.
There is another piece of land with your name on it!
BY Cheryl Miller, CIPS, ABR, AIA, Broker of Baja Realty and Investment, Architect. 624-122-2690. www.forsaleinbaja.com