We are from Bolivia and normally help thousands of Bolivian people to know about real estate and house building processes in our country (you can see our Bolivian real estate website). So, all the expertise we have in this field will be transmitted to you here.
The cost of building a house in Bolivia ranges from $21/ft2 to $50/ft2 for almost all types of houses in the country. Luxury Bolivian houses, which are compared to high-income people’s houses in first tier countries, range from $35/ft2 to $100/ft2. Buildings and high-rises go from $50/ft2 to $150/ft2.
In the following lines, we will talk about how much it costs to build a house in Bolivia, with all the details and depending on the type of house you want to build in our country. Also, we have included an accurate calculator to simulate all the numbers involved in your construction project.
The cost per foot square is the essential metric
In Bolivia it’s normal to measure construction costs in dollars per meter a square ($/m2), but we will convert this metric into dollars per foot square ($/ft2) so you can better understand all the numbers. Bolivian house builders normally use this measure as the most important one to estimate the costs of a home construction project.
This metric includes all the costs that a building may have, from its foundation to the ceiling, also all the finishing work, including the paintings and everything that a property needs to be fully functional. So, in all the following estimations we’ll use this metric.
Estimating the total cost of building a house in Bolivia
To estimate the total cost of a construction project in Bolivia, we need to multiply the cost per square foot metric ($/ft2) by the number of feet that the house is going to have. Then, we’ll use the following equation:
- No. Feet. * $/ft2 = Total Cost
Building costs according to the type of house
There are several types of houses normally built in Bolivia, depending mostly on the income of the person who is building the house or property, the location of the land itself, among other variables.
Then next, we are going to describe in detail how much it costs to build the most common and important types of houses that you can find in our country, these types are:
- The cheapest houses that are normally built in Bolivia.
- Average houses built by the majority of people.
- Residential houses for high-income Bolivian people.
- Luxury houses located in the best neighborhoods.
- Multifamily houses and skyscrapers.
1) The cheapest houses that are normally built in Bolivia
Nothing expensive, nothing that is not crucial for the functionality of the house, this type of house is the cheapest you can build in the country. Houses like these are normally built by poor people, in the edge areas of Bolivian cities and low-income neighborhoods. It’s very, very unlikely to see a foreigner living in or being around a property like this.
This type of house normally has one small living room, one small bathroom, also a small kitchen, and between 1 to 3 bedrooms. These homes normally range from 500 ft2 to 800 ft2 in size. Also, their construction follows at least the most basic and important building standards making them secure and somewhat functional for several years.
This type of house in Bolivia has a cost per ft2 of between $21/ft2 and $27/ft2.
This means that if you want to build a house of this type in Bolivia, of let’s say, 600 ft2, then you’ll spend $24 * 600 ft. = $14,400.
The final cost for a 600 ft2 edification of this type will be $14,400, although it can vary between $20,600 and $16,200.
2) Average houses built by the majority of people
This is the most common type of house built in Bolivia, generally it doesn’t have any extra functionality or amenities than an average income Bolivian family may need to live. These properties tend to be very common in most of the neighborhoods and zones of the major cities of the country.
Homes like these are not solely focused on max possible savings in building costs, they have some additional space and also even better finishing work inside and outside the house. They normally have additional bedrooms and bathrooms, bigger kitchens and other spaces like garages, gardens and similar extras.
This type of home in Bolivia has a cost per ft2 of between $26/ft2 to $30/ft2.
This means that if you want to build an average Bolivian house of, let’s say, 1200 ft2 spreaded in between 1-2 floors, you will end up spending $28 * 1200 ft2 = $33,600.
The final cost for a 1,200 ft2 edification of this type will be $33,600, although it can vary between $31,200 and $36,000.
3) Residential houses high-income Bolivian people
Around 5% of Bolivian people tend to live in this type of house. These people have high incomes (between $1,000 to $2,000/month) which allows them to live in residential homes. You can compare this type of house with the ones that are located in low to middle class neighborhoods in the US and European countries.
You will find these homes almost only in residential neighborhoods of Bolivia, in which many middle-high and high-income people live, and also some foreigners from the first world. Examples of these zones are Cota Cota in La Paz, Tiquipaya in Cochabamba and the North Zone in Santa Cruz.
These properties have all the functionality that a low to average income citizen from first world countries may expect to get, with decent architectonic designs, some extra spaces, like study rooms, guest rooms, nursery rooms, attics, basements, and other similar spaces. Also, they have a good quality in their construction materials.
This type of house in Bolivia has a cost per ft2 of between $29/ft2 to $35/ft2.
This means that if you want to build a residential Bolivian home (which normally has between 1-3 floors and 2,500 feet of construction) you will end up spending $32 * 2500 ft2 = $80,000.
The final cost for a 2,500 ft2 edification of this type will be $80,000, although it can vary between $75,000 and $87,500.
4) Luxury houses located in the best neighborhoods
Wealthy people from Bolivia (less than 0.5% of the population) tend to live in the most exclusive zones and neighborhoods that are available in the major cities of Bolivia, and also most of the first world expats. These people have very high incomes, from $2,000 to $5,000 per month (many of them are millionaires or get more than $5,000/month).
These properties don’t take into account the costs anymore, they are focused on luxury and high quality materials, artistic designs, with very high functionality and fairly wide spaces for different purposes. These homes can be compared to the houses that middle class to upper class people own in first tier countries, like the US or European countries.
This type of house in Bolivia has a cost per ft2 between $35/ft2 to $100/ft2, where $100/ft2 is just a point of reference, because with even more luxury, the costs of these houses can go significantly higher.
This means that, to build a luxury Bolivian house (which normally has 3,500 feet of extension and between 1-3 floors) you will need to spend $50 * 3,500 ft2. = $175,000, but this cost can be very variable.
The final cost for a 3,500 ft2 edification of this type will be around $150,000, although it can vary between $122,500 and $350,000.
5) Multifamily houses and skyscrapers
What is commonly called duplex or triplex, multiplex in developed countries has its own analogue in Bolivia with multifamily buildings, consisting generally in several story buildings and skyscrapers of apartments. It’s difficult to find duplexes or triplexes with a first world style and design in Bolivia.
Instead, what you’ll find here is a lot of buildings of between 4 and 8 stories, each story with 1 or 2 standalone apartments. People in Bolivia tend to build short buildings of between 5 to 10 different owners or families. But there are also commercial buildings and high-rises that exceed the 10th floor, having lots of apartments inside.
This type of property in Bolivia usually has a cost per ft2 between $50/ft2 to $150/ft2. The variability of the cost depends a lot on the number of stories that the building or the skyscraper is going to have.
This means that a common multi-family Bolivian building of 6 floors (which normally has 10,000 feet of extension distributed in 7 levels) will cost to build around $50 * 10,000 ft. = $500,000. Remember that the $C/ft2 varies a lot depending on the number of stories you are going to build.
The final cost for a 11,150 ft2 building of this type (multi-family building of 6 stories) will be around $50 * 11,500 ft2 = $575,000.
The final cost for a 20,000 ft2 building of this type (an apartment high-rise of 10 stories) will be around $75 * 20,000 ft2 = $1,500,000.
The final cost for a 55,000 ft2 building of this type (an apartment skyscraper of 20 floors) will be around $100 * 55,000 ft2 = $5,500,000.
Calculator to estimate the building costs in Bolivia
Comparing and evaluating the quality of Bolivian houses
There are important differences between Bolivia houses and houses from developed countries. Of course, all of the types of houses that are described in this article have at least some basic security measurements and the minimum quality standards of construction.
But the first 2 categories of homes we have seen generally are constructed by just a bunch of masons while the residential and luxury homes have almost always been constructed by formal construction companies that know what they are doing.
You need to be very careful in this situation. Hiring just a bunch of masons versus hiring a construction company in Bolivia will bring you vastly different results, as you can see in the images above. Construction companies will be between 10% to 30% more expensive.
Furthermore, for a better understanding of each type of house described above compared to a house in a developed country, like the United States or European countries, you can see the following table.
|Bolivian type of house||Developed country type of house|
|Cheap houses||Almost non-existent|
|Average houses||Low-income people’s houses|
|Residential houses||Middle-income people’s houses|
|Luxury houses||High-income people’s houses|
|Almost non-existent||Luxury 1st world houses that wealthy people owe|
|Multifamily buildings||Duplexes, triplexes and commercial skyscrapers|
As you can see in the table above, the houses of Bolivia have one degree down in quality and functionality of houses in first tier countries. Then, an average house in Bolivia can be compared to a low income people’s house in the US, a residential house in Bolivia can be compared to a middle income people’s house in England and so on.
What is important to highlight is that the price per square foot of construction in Bolivia is far less than the average price in developed countries, where it can range from $100 to $500 per ft2, instead, here you have costs that range from $20 to $150 per ft2 for most types of the houses described.
You must always hire a well known building company
Here in Bolivia there’s a lot of non-formal building, this means that a bunch of masons and labourers meet in a team without a real building company backing them, and they start building houses for clients, many times without the approval and licensing from the local or city government. It’s a custom here to hire them (also because they are somewhat cheaper), so most people in this country just hire a bunch of masons to build their houses.
We do encourage you not to follow this practice. You should always hire a reputable Bolivian building company to construct your house, the building companies available in Bolivia are good and generally do a decent job, and they don’t charge significantly more than just a bunch of workers and masons.
For example, if a team of masons charge you $25 per ft2, a formal and legal building company will charge you for the same work $30 per ft2. In Bolivia, hiring just masons and not companies is more like a custom and it’s not really about the building cost.
You can see how different is the finished work of a house constructed by a team of laborers and masons versus a legal and known building company in the images above (1 and 2 categories vs 3 and 4 categories). And the work has been done with almost the same cost.
Be careful to be charged as a foreign person
Be really cautious about being charged a lot more than you should just because you are from overseas. You should always pay attention to the budget plan for your project that a Bolivian building company may give to you. People in Bolivia tend to charge a lot more to people from other countries.
You may find that even though the average cost for Bolivian people is $30 per ft2, this cost can be presented to you as $60 or even $100 per ft2 only because you are from another country. Don’t let these companies take advantage of your situation. If you find this is the case, just go to another building company with more fair building costs.
Don’t let building companies in Bolivia take advantage of your situation as a foreigner, they should charge almost the same to you as they charge to Bolivian people.
In this note, you have learned how much it costs to build a house in Bolivia, depending mainly on the type of house you want to build. You have seen that there are 5 main different types of houses in the country, which range from very cheap houses to luxury houses and multi-family buildings.
You have seen that this cost varies from $20/ft2 to $150/ft2 for almost all the houses and buildings that you can build here. Also, for a home similar to an average house in a developed country, the costs are between $29/ft2 to $100/ft2. This can be cheap if compared to first tier countries, where the costs can range from $50/ft2 to $500/ft2.
You also have learned that you must always hire a legal and reputable building company to build your house in Bolivia, because here it’s a wide practice to just hire a bunch of masons to do the work, and they mostly do a bad job. Finally, don’t let building companies take advantage of your situation as a foreigner, they should charge you the same as they charge Bolivian people.
We hope this information has helped you, and if you want to know how much does it cost to buy a house in Bolivia, with all the details and numbers by type of property, visit our complete guide in the following direction: How much does a house cost in Bolivia? All the facts and numbers.
BolivianExperts.com, information about how to live, work, invest and travel in Bolivia.