Like everywhere else, if you are going to build in Granada, you have to secure paperwork and go through the process. You have to go to the City Hall, explain exactly what you’re planning to do, describe the building, and then bring your architect with you. You have to follow a building code. Then you make a summation of the cost of building.
The code of construction here is similar to other places such as you will need to use reinforced walls, columns to support the structure, etc. City Hall will have an inspection and make sure that you are following the building regulations.
Unlike other places in Nicaragua, if you are in Granada, you have to understand the zoning because there are some restrictions if you are building in the historical center. But if you not building in the historical district, then you are pretty much allowed to build any kind of design, such as contemporary, modern homes, etc. You don’t have to follow the colonial style as you would if you were building in the historical district. If you are building in the historical district, then you should respect the colonial façade of the building though you don’t have to use adobe anymore but you have to recreate or replicate the very simple design. You have to use colonial architecture, tiles, wooden doors, etc. There is a code that the City Hall would require you to follow such as seismic columns and footings, septic systems, electrical wiring systems, 220 voltage or 110 voltage, etc.
Everything that you do in your building is going to be followed by an inspection from the city. Also, the fire department and the city architectural department will review your plans and they will tell you if there is something wrong or non-compliant. That is why it is very important to hire an architect who is familiar with the building requirements of the city. Sometimes if you come from another city and you bring in your architect who is also from another city, they may have some trouble understanding the city building requirements. You should have an architect who can at least guide you on the building process in the city of Granada. That can save you a lot of time.
Right now, I am building four houses in the colonial district so my architect has to follow some basic regulations. We are basically copying a colonial façade. It is a half-acre plan and we have to submit the blueprints, the engineering design, the plumbing designs, the water disposal system, what kind of septic system we are using, etc. The city has a specific code for these systems. Your architect should read these regulations and adapt them to your project. That way, you won’t have a disagreement with the city and you could continue working on your project.
The cost for these building permits is affordable. It cost me US $1,500 per unit and I am building a 1,400 square feet and a 1,500 square feet home. It’s easy. The permit is good for 6 months and you could renew the permit for about $40 for another year in case you cannot start building right away. That is very important. If you have your property and you request a building permit, you submit all the requirements, and then you get your documents ready to go, but you don’t start building right away, that is not a problem at all. You can actually have the property, buy the building permits, and decide to start building later. If that building permit expires, your architect or you can go back to the city and renew the permit for another year.
(Colonial building in Granada, Nicaragua, pictured.)