Construction standards are so varied in the United States, Canada and Europe, but I would say that the standard of construction in Boquete is high.
If you’re looking for an expat or a European-style home, you’re going to easily get that in Boquete. You can find a builder who is experienced with the American and European standard constructions. The Panamanians know how to work with drywall and concrete, and their tile work is amazing, especially when working with a high-end tile.
The Panamanian engineers’ work with the Spanish-style clay roofs are just a beautiful sight to behold, and there are new materials that come in every day. There are a lot of the clay style roofs that are being put in, which are actually metal roofs and are also beautiful.
Here’s what I recommend to people who are looking to build a house in Boquete. First, choose an architect that you’re comfortable with, someone who can speak your language and design the house according to your standards. He/she can even be in the United States, Canada or Europe.
The design can be done either here in Panama with a Panamanian engineer, or with an architect or an engineer in your hometown. Building in Boquete is a very formal building process which I appreciate here, so your building plans have to be approved by and given to the government by a Panamanian engineer. That means the building plan has to have a Panamanian engineer’s stamp on it.
Routinely, a lot of the Panamanian engineers will work with outside engineers and architects. I’ve seen that done many times. As someone wanting to build a home here in Boquete, you should take advantage of having two eyes on it.
If you’re hiring someone from Central Kentucky to design your home, that’s wonderful. You’ll still get the set of Panamanian engineering eyes on the building to make sure that the plan given to them based on American standards is executed and honed in for the things that are approved and acceptable in Boquete.
There are a couple of inspections when building in Chiriquí (the province where Boquete is located). These inspections include foundation and electrical inspections, plus a final certificate of occupancy that’s granted by the government. This means you have other eyes on your building process.
Like in the United States, you’re the boss of your checkbook in Chiriquí and in Boquete. You need to make sure that somebody who understands where you are in your job in relation to how much money you spend on it is involved in the building process. You plan your work and you work your plan.
You plan exactly how much you’re going to put into your foundation, plumbing, electrical, roof, and improvements inside the home up front. Someone needs to be accountable for things that are outside of that plan. For example, if you have a general contractor working on your job, and you were supposed to spend $25,000 on improvements during the foundation stage, while the general contractor is saying that it’s $30,000, that $5,000 problem on the end of your build can turn into a $40,000 problem, so you need to manage those expectations.
(Home with several outbuildings including a casita, greenhouse and a thatched hut by the river, Chiriqui, Panama, pictured.)