Overall, the way they build here in Los Cabos is very similar to Florida. Most of the buildings in Los Cabos and La Paz are block brick and built in a Mexican Southwest style. We have a lot of the pueblo style homes like you would see in the Santa Fe area.
There is one resort that also has condominiums called Mico’s where everything is Greek architecture. You will see construction with beautiful tile floors, granite; you name it, because those materials are cheaper here than in the US. To install granite countertops is probably 1/3 the cost down here in the Los Cabos – La Paz area than it would cost in the US.
The construction here is less expensive for the most part and well built. The only thing that I have found, because I am a carpenter’s daughter and I worked in the real estate construction industry for many years, is the older homes do not have ground wiring; they just have a single plug in. So I always tell everybody, “Anything that you have plugged in that is important like your TV, your refrigerator, or your computer, make sure that you have a regulator or a surge protector for them.”
Our electricity grid is much different than what it is in the US and they do have spikes. If it spikes high, it could damage your electrical products, but that happens in the US, too.
As far as construction, recently I was in a single-family home that is actually going to be featured on HGTV that is a fantastic three-story house close to the ocean with amazing views. It has seven bedrooms, three studio-type apartments in the downstairs, a whole upstairs, and a parking area. They were asking US $625,000 for it.
There are also what they call “palapa homes,” which have concrete walls but then they put a weed or a palm roof on it. It is still well constructed. However, if we get high winds or a major hurricane like Hurricane Katrina, like the one we had 2 years ago, some of the palm roofs blew off but that was to be expected. Maybe it is easier to have your roof blow off than to have an attached roof blow off and take with it the walls and everything else. There are homes that are made of very tropical materials like bamboo down here. Those are not made to last 100 years but they are more ecologically friendly because you are using natural materials to even construct the walls.
If you are going to build here you also need to pull permits just like in the US. The difference is, here, if you are building on a city lot or something like that, of course you would need to get your permits for your water hookups, electrical hookups, etc. Some of the buildings and new construction down here are Mexican-owned and some are foreign-owned, so the construction is always pretty much up to US standards.
Let’s say for example, you bought a lot near La Paz, so you ask the question, “Are you supposed to be permitted?” Maybe. “Is everybody permitted?” Probably not. “Is that something that could be concern if you go to buy a property?” Yes, you should definitely check into it.
You see all kinds of construction as you go to the rural areas. There are a lot of people who have just motor homes that they put down on a lot. They are using solar and they truck the water in because we are a desert, so to drill a well, you could go way down and maybe never find water for 300 feet. It just depends on location, so trucking in the water would not be unusual. But we also do that even in the US. In Colorado, where I come from, there are people who have their water trucked in because they may be sitting on a pile of rock and you would not be able to go down 300 feet, so it is actually cheaper for them to have a water cistern or a holding tank and the water truck comes and fills it. You will see motor homes and smaller homes that have been put up supposedly as a temporary house and they changed it. Unless somebody is complaining, I don’t think anybody is too worried about it.
(Los Cabos, Baja California, Mexico, pictured.)