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Is It Better To
Buy or Build A House In Jamaica?

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how_much_to_build_a_house_in_jamaica_addition2Is It Better To Buy or Build A House In Jamaica

by Sheree-Anita Shearer | Associate Writer

The reasons for buying vs building your dream home will vary from person to person. For some, it is easier to just buy a completed house and just move in, without the headaches that come with building from scratch.


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For others, all those issues are worth it as they will have the house they have always wanted, built just the way they imagined it for all these years.

But what if you are living abroad? Is it better to buy or build a house in Jamaica then?

The Benefits of Building

Building a home comes with many advantages. For starters, your house will be fully customisable if you start from scratch. You are in full control of your home's size, shape and overall design. Often time when you purchase a home, you will still need to do a few renovations to make it perfect. You may even encounter unpleasant surprises such as leaking pipes and damaged flooring.

Less Restrictions - There are fewer restrictions when you build. Oftentimes, if you are searching for a house it will be in a housing development. The issue with these areas is that while they have countless advantages, you are not in full control of what happens with your home. Some places control everything from the size of the home and the number of floors you have, to whether or not you can have detached buildings and even the paint colour. If you build on your own land, especially in an area that has not yet fully developed chances are, you will have fewer of these things to consider.

Location - Also if you set out with the intention of building, you might have a better chance of having not only the house you want, but the location, you want as well. Sometimes when purchasing a house, the view is outstanding but you aren’t quite sold on the property or vice versa. Then what happens is that you have to settle. If you choose your location, then you will be able to have all the things you want in a home.

Labour costs are cheaper in some cases - One of the main complaints with purchasing homes is the cost of the size. A lot of the time, with careful preparation and management, building a house can work out considerably cheaper than buying one. Also if it isn’t a new development, then you can expect to have some renovations to do.

Higher quality - Not all the time it will be a brand new home, sometimes the houses being sold were built a long time ago and therefore the design is older and depending on how the previous owners treated it there might be significant wear and tear. If you build your own home, you will get many good years out of it before any major fixes are needed.

You will have the feeling of achieving something because you may have had the design concept or even contributed manual labour towards its completion.

The Negatives of Building

Now for the negatives because as with all things, building a home has them.

Can become overwhelming - Building a home from scratch can be an overwhelming endeavour. Building plans must be commissioned and approved; permits/approval are needed from the Parish Council. If this step is taken lightly, it could mean having issues with the parish council or neighbours over landlines and in extreme circumstances, you may be asked to knock down a part of or all of your house.

Dishonest Contractors - Then there is the issue of dishonest contractors who can be quite unreliable if due consideration is not taken when choosing one.

Cost and Inflation - Be ever mindful of the ever-looming threat of inflation. This means the prices of materials and labour costs in Jamaica are never stable. Also if you will need a loan to cover the costs of building a home, that comes with a whole different world of challenges. 

More often than not, people underestimate the costs of building outside of material and labour. There are solicitor’s fees, architects to pay, surveyor fees and the cost of going back and forth from the necessary persons and agencies. It all adds up.

There is also the cost of buying land and then building a home. These are two separate endeavours with their own set of problems to consider; purchasing a home is just one.

Theft - It isn’t uncommon for building materials to be stolen by dishonest workers or even common thieves, which means hiring a security company or a watchman or risking losing the materials you have already purchased.

Not having the advice of an architect might mean your house will never be completed. We all have dreams of how things should be, however, sometimes not all of these can happen. Working with an architect will give you the chance to see if the size and design of the home are viable and affordable at this time. If not, you will know from the beginning that you need to scale back and not realise halfway through the house. There are many examples of this in Jamaica, where the home is not completed because there wasn’t enough money to do so.

Working without an architect on a custom build may leave you making simple mistakes. It can be as trivial as forgetting a socket in a room to even greater issues. In most cases, houses built especially by a housing development are using a tried and true plan that has been tweaked over the years.

It might also take longer to complete the build which means things will get more expensive if the project is drawn out over an extended period. A project manager will be able to estimate how long the build will take and keep it on that track as much as possible.

Benefits of Buying a Home

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Buying a home is a way shorter process than building one. There is no need to draft up designs, haggle over material and labour costs, wait extended periods for approval from the Parish Council and all the other stresses of building.

If you are working with a deadline when you would love to move to Jamaica, you will have an already-built house to move into. Sometimes the houses are even sold with the furniture and appliance so all you need to do is move in.

Negatives Of Buying A Home

Again, there are negatives. From what I have seen, no house you did not have a say in constructing will tick all your boxes. You will have to settle in at least one area. Also the bigger the house and the better the location, the more expensive it will be.

All in all, these are positives and negatives to both building and buying a house. You need to weigh your options and see what is best for you.

Ensure the work is done before paying the full price. Do not pay ahead unless it is a reputable contractor and there is an upfront cost.

Estimate the build with your project manager from the beginning to ensure that the house you want is one you can afford.

If you are already set on a particular location it may influence whether you build or buy. For example, it is next to impossible to build a house in Kingston as it is already entirely built out, this makes buying a better option. If you are in a more rural area, it might be better to build. Just something to bear in mind.

Is buying a house in Jamaica a good investment?

Yes, it is, whether the house is for you and your family to live in or it is to use as a form of income, a house in Jamaica is worth considering.

Is it cheaper to build a house or buy a house?

There is no yes or no answer for this, there are multiple factors to consider. The costs associated with both will be different for everyone. But at face value, it is cheaper to build.

How much money does it cost to build a house in Jamaica?

Well, we have actually gotten this question before and the answer is right here.

Whatever decision works better for you, the bottom line is, you will be living the Caribbean dream and in the end, that is what it is all about.

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References & Sources For Is It Better To Buy Or Build A House In Jamaica?

  1. Building a house in Jamaica - what are the costs? (no date) My. Available at: https://www.my-island-jamaica.com/building-a-house-in-jamaica-what-are-the-costs.html (Accessed: November 27, 2022).
  2. JULIAN RICHARDSON Assistant Business Co-ordinator richardsonj@jamaicaobserver.com (2017) To build or to buy, Jamaica Observer. Jamaica Observer. Available at: https://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/to-build-or-to-buy/ (Accessed: November 27, 2022).
  3. When it's best to build, rent or buy (2012) Business | Jamaica Gleaner. Available at: https://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20120219/business/business1.html#:~:text=OPEN%2DMARKET%20PURCHASE,kept%20within%20an%20economical%20range (Accessed: November 27, 2022).

Is Better To Buy Or Build A House In Jamaica? | Written: November 27, 2022

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