How Much Does it Cost to Build a House in Bolivia? All the Facts and Details

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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 housebuilders 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, and 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:

  1. The cheapest houses normally built in Bolivia.
  2. Average houses are built by the majority of people.
  3. Residential houses for high-income Bolivian people.
  4. Luxurius houses located in the best neighborhoods.
  5. 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.

Example of a very cheap house normally built in Bolivia
Example of a very cheap house normally built in Bolivia.

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.

An example

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 that 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.

Example of a common house built by most people in Bolivia
Example of a common house built by most people in Bolivia.

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.

An example

This means that if you want to build a, let’s say, average Bolivian house of 1200 ft2 spread 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.

Example of a residential house built by high income people of Bolivia
Example of residential houses built by high-income people in Bolivia.

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 Noth Zone in Santa Cruz.

These properties have all the functionality that a low to average-income citizen from a first-world country may expect to get, with decent architectonic designs, and 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.

An example

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).

Example of a luxury house built by wealthy people in Bolivia and also by expats
Example of a luxurious house built by wealthy people in Bolivia, and also by expats.

These properties don’t take into account the costs anymore, they are focused on luxury and high-quality materials, and 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.

An example

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 analog in Bolivia with multifamily buildings, consisting generally of several-story buildings and skyscrapers of apartments. It’s difficult to find duplexes or triplexes with a first-world style and design in Bolivia.

Multi family buildings of several stories containing many apartments in La Paz Bolivia
Multi-family buildings of several stories containing many apartments, in La Paz, 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.

Skyscrapers of apartments of more than 20 stories in La Paz Bolivia
Skyscrapers of apartments of more than 20 stories, in La Paz, Bolivia.

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.

An example

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 an 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 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 houseDeveloped country type of house
Cheap housesAlmost non-existent
Average housesLow-income people’s houses
Residential housesMiddle-income people’s houses
Luxury housesHigh-income people’s houses
Multifamily housesDuplexes Triplexes and commercial skyscrapers
Comparison between Bolivian houses and houses from 1st tier countries.

As you can see in the table above, the houses in 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 laborers 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 charges you $25 per ft2, a formal and legal building company will charge you for the same work for $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 the finished work of a house constructed by a team of laborers and masons is 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 very 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. Citizens in Bolivia tend to charge a lot more to people coming 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.

Conclusions

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 it costs 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.

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