The construction standards in Belize depend on who you work with. I know people who live in plywood houses, including some locals. Nowadays, most of the construction here is built to Category 4 or Category 5 with the same windows as well. I have been here for just over 4 years and I have not seen a hurricane. When I wrote this we were in the middle of hurricane season and we had a bit of rain yesterday.
You have to be careful which developer you choose. It is best to get an independent assessor to have a look at any real estate you’re thinking of buying. Also, look at other work the developer has done. If they’re building houses on the island and you are buying in or anywhere in Belize, go and see one they built two years ago and see how they are still standing. Normally if you get a good developer, you will have a well built house.
They do not have inspections or building codes here in Belize, but you have to go and get a building permit. You create your plans, you say what you are going to be doing, and then you get a building permit. They come and say, “Yes, you can do this.” Then, they come and stick a piece of wood in your ground to say that his has been approved by the building association and they don’t come to see you again until the very end of the project when they come to measure or give title to the property based on what you built. I am sure there are supposed to be checks in between, but I am not entirely sure that they are followed. One of the great things about financing through us is that we will disperse the financing only as the developer needs it in each stage. At each stage, before we go to disbursement, we will go in and physically check that the construction is being built to the standards that were promised within the contract. Otherwise, we don’t disburse the money.
We are a bank, we’re not builders and we are not the developers; we do money. So if we are going to lend on a property, we are very strict with our criteria. If we are going to lend on something, we need to know the developer, we need to know the land, and we need to know that everything is good. We need to see the designs because we know what works here. The directors and shareholders of the bank have been here in Belize for about 23 years in real estate and all sorts of other activities. They have a wealth of knowledge and they are the decision makers when we give out the loans. We do not want to work with developers that are renowned for finishing the job halfway because we then have to pay for it to be finished before we can get back our money on the loan. It is prudent, I suppose, to consider working with a bank on financing or making sure that you seek correct legal advice and work with good people, with good reputations.