View Full Version : Building on leased land?
06-03-2011, 09:55 AM
I've just returned from another extended visit to JA. This time I decided that I'm going to build a 2 BR cabin in the area I've been visiting for years (Broughton). I am young so not wanting to get over my head I don't intend to buy land or build a large concrete house. Instead, I have worked out a lease with a good friend of mine that seems very reasonable, $450 annual for 1.3 acres mostly beach front. Everything seems to be in place for me to start investing in the project. So I wanted to know if anyone here has experience building on a leased plot of land?
Here is the basic plan:
Sign lease and take control of 1.3 acre mostly beach front
Level the property with multiple loads of "maul" or dirt as I call it...
Pour concrete foundation
Have 2, 12 x 24 board houses delivered from Little London and set on foundation
Attach houses, add bathroom and finish the cabin
Landscape the property
Enjoy my beach cabin in paradise
Sounds simple enough but I realize there is much more to it than that. I have created a fairly detailed budget which can be adjusted once I start pricing materials more thoroughly. Based off the figures I have received and what others in the area have spent, the whole project shouldn't cost more than $12k but I am allowing $15k-$16k US. I have already met with a real estate attorney who will be drawing up the lease. I went to the company in Little London who builds and delivers the houses to work out prices. Another good friend of many years is my contractor and he is the most reliable Jamaican I've ever met. My father and I will be pouring the foundation as well as doing much of the interior work. There is plenty of labor available in the immediate area and my gardener is another friend of a few years.
After speaking to some expat friends who live in the same area, I feel good about having all the pieces in place but all of them bought land and built larger houses. I guess I am looking for some feedback from other expats who have done something similar. Any insight in appreciated.
06-03-2011, 02:26 PM
Sounds like you have it wired. Good luck! (PS, Wood house, close to beach...build with hurricane and wave storms in mind)
06-03-2011, 03:22 PM
I've heard that if your structure is on a concrete foundation on leased land, you cannot move the structure - so it essentially belongs to the owner of the land if and when the lease is finished.
06-03-2011, 03:28 PM
Is the road that you access your property from belong to the Parish or privately owned & will you have right-of-way access to your property? If you access across someone's property without a right-of-way easement...you could lose that access at anytime.
Is there water or electric connections? Will you have your own meters or will you have to share & possibly pay someone else's portion of the bill.
Is there a sewer connection from the main or do you have to build your own septic system? If you have to build your own & because you're located close to the water you may need Parish Council/enviromental approval.
06-03-2011, 03:41 PM
Beach Bum.......... listen to Bnewb........ she knows what she's talking about.
Avoiding the pitfalls you know nothing about is the hardest part of doing what you wish to do.....
Best of Luck
06-03-2011, 05:23 PM
Any construction will most likely require NEPA approval if it includes beach front.
06-03-2011, 06:58 PM
been der........and done that......
first off you'd be better off saving your money and buying the land outright and getting a registered title to the land.........
the construction of a board house and improvements is likely to cost you double or more of what you are thinking........
getting the current to the cottages is expensive......you gotta buy the pole and have it set..
then run the line to the cottage etc and run lines in the cottage........
the sewer is another expense........digging a pit or connecting to the line is going to cost a small fortune.......
then hooking into the main wata lines and then running lines for wata at the cottage for the kitchen and bathroom adds up quick...
normally wi set the cottages on blocks......or maybe a slab.....slabs are a likkle expensive too.....
building materials like pressure treated 2x4's, wallboard, paint etc is quite expensive too........
you can use the louvered windows to save some dollars but dem don't have screens........
then you'll need burglar bars for the windows and doors.........those are real expensive
you also have to build cement steps into the cottage.......their not so bad........
but all the concrete work is usually done by hand........mix the sand, mortar, stone and wata together......
then haul the buckets........labor is cheap but finding good help is almost impossible......
unless you can do a lot of this work yourself........you'll need to depend on someone to be your foreman or general contractor......and those are very hard to find......and when you find one they aren't cheap........
you are probably young so go for it........it's just takes a lot of dollars, patience and hard work to make it happen der......
if I was to do it again........I'd buy already built.........or do a prefab panelized system that is Hurricane proof..........
cause you can easily loose that board house investment when a Gilbert rolls thru....that is why most everything is block der or prefab
Cool Runnings, Marko
06-03-2011, 10:16 PM
Thank you everyone for your interesting questions and words of wisdom. I have been planning this a for a few years but waited until I was financially stable to really start pursuing the project. A good deal of thought and work has been put into the process already. I'm only saying that so you don't think I'm just some guy asking first time questions. Here is my more detailed plan.
First thing utilities:
No current only solar and backup generator for now with a possible wind generator if I can find a good deal on one before I ship my container down. The lot is not far from the poll and it would cost about $5k to have it ran but I don't use enough to need it.
Water will be supplied by public line which is cheap and easy to tap into from it's location. The funny thing about water is that the pipe was ran over 10 years ago and they never got around to installing a meter. So the people on this road have free water, at least until JWC catches on. I also plan on installing a rain water tank.
Sewage is going to be a composting toilet with waste water being recycled for gardening.
Propane for cooking and fridge.
I am basically modeling my house and budget after my friends place that is just up the road. She built basically the same structure on this same type of land and has her utilities set up this way and there are no problems. I like the idea of being off the grid as much as possible. I have no problem moving the house to another spot if I need to which the company in Little London said they could do. Several expats I've met have said that these prefab houses that are finished like mine are in demand and sell rather quickly should I ever decide to. Not sure how true that is...
The property sits on both sides of a Parish owned road so there are no access issues. To the left is about 30 yards of beach and to the right is where I will level and build. I'm not building directly on the beach even though much of what's in front of the house will technically be mine. Possibly a multi colored thatch and driftwood bar. I'll have to find something to do once it's built... The building codes are basically non existent in this area. Some time, patience and of course money will take care of any permit. My father and I are capable of completely finishing the house after it's on the foundation. However, I will be supervising but leaving most of the responsibility to my contractor. He is a good friend and has proven himself time and again. The same goes for all the labor that would be used. I am fully aware of how a concrete house is built in Jamaica because I've helped a few times. It's one major reason I'm not building one.
As far as the lease goes, yes I know it is well below market price. The truth is, I could probably buy the piece of land for around $20k but everyone in the community as well as the man's family agreed that he should not have all that money at once. So in a way the lease is a much better option for him. The wording of the lease will be very clear and will include options to buy or renegotiate when the term is up which will be at least 15 years as well as first option to buy if he decided to sell. I also have to include a clause that will cover me if and when the man dies, he is a 55+ year old Rasta. This is his share of his families land that he owns outright so there shouldn't be any problems there. I am also building him a cook shop on the rear of the property. Something he started and never got a chance to finish. I'd do this for him even if I wasn't leasing his land.
I know the risk of building a house on the sea so I am prepared for the ups and downs. I don't plan on being cheap on materials so even though wooden, it will be very strong. It will also be built about 3' off the ground for flooding. Similar prefab houses built the same way on the road are still standing after the worst storms of the last 15 years. It's all a gamble. As far as security goes, other than two good doors, some dead bolts and iron for the windows, a couple of loud dogs should take care of the rest. It is a VERY peaceful and quiet community. Everyone is family and in each others business CONSTANTLY. Very few outsiders have ever been invited to build here. I feel very privileged to be offered the opportunity. I don't plan on living here year round, at least not yet. A few months at a time with my family and friends also having access. Over the years I've developed some great friendships with some trustworthy people. If I ever am in the need of a caretaker it won't be hard to find. Plus having my best friend on the island as my neighbor won't hurt.
I truly hope that I'm covering all my bases, the more insight the better!
There are building codes and laws that apply island wide - here is a link to some of them from NEPA:
The NCRA, TPCA, LDUC and Beach Act seem to be important in your case. Please be aware that there are new building codes being enacted. They could be passed by the government soon.
You can search for the title owner in the area you are planning to build on here:
Here is an article from the Gleaner where the Westmoreland Parish Council was stopping people from building without permits:
Here is a link to contact the Westmoreland Parish Council:
The composting toilet will probably need to be approved by NEPA since it is so close to the sea. For environmental reasons, please be sure to check this out. You need to remember to build with hurricane high seas in mind. Your sewage system will need to take this into account.
06-04-2011, 10:58 AM
good luck......it would bother me not to own the dirt where my roots were going to be planted....but then again ..no guarantees in life... Huh?
Have 2, 12 x 24 board houses delivered from Little London and set on foundation
how much are these board houses gonna cost you ?
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