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For Your Vacation Home or Real Estate Development: Let Us Be Your Architect in Panama

It’s happened too often that when an international client is building a vacation home in Panama, the builder looks at the drawings and says, “Yes, we think it’s going to be $1,200 per square meter, or $1,500 per meter. You can hire us on that number. We are good for it.” What normally happens next is that, during the construction phase, the builder says, “Oh, but we didn’t include this, or that.” When you say, “It’s on the drawings that you bid on,” they say, “Yes, but we didn’t include it.” What can you do when the company is already engaged and your project sitting half built? The client eats the costs. Because, at that point, there is no way to squeeze the builder and say, “It should have been included.” I have personally known people who ended up paying 35, 80, even 100% over the original estimated construction cost. Sometimes it even seems to be part of the local strategy, to low-ball the original estimate to get the project and then start spiking up along the way. This does not have to be the case for you. Let us be your architect in Panama because we understand the underlying reasons for these costly project detours. We have an architectural services process that ensures such detours will not happen to you.



More important for the long-term is that our project and design process yields a beautiful result. We have been recognized six times over at the International Property Awards. If you already live or are investing in Panama, we can also help you … with a better experience, safer investment and more comprehensive process.


We have several projects active in Panama right now. Because we are headquartered in Costa Rica, we do not do our usual design-build, but instead engage builders and tradespeople in the area. If you are available to meet in person, we will meet you in Panama. If, like many of our international clients, it would be more convenient for you to meet via videoconference or even by email (we manage projects this way all the time), then we can do that, too. As your trusted advisor, we will help you filter, vet and select your construction company; get proposals; and evaluate them. You will then have the best resources for that location on hand.


As for the incomplete bids and difficult-to-predict construction costs, we find it comes down to work culture, which varies among countries. An interesting challenge in Panama is that many people will wish to do your project, but few will want to provide any breakdown on the cost. We interview the interested parties and identify those who could be viable partners and capable (and weed out the opposite, those you will want to avoid). We then provide the potential builders with an empty cost breakdown template to obtain a reasonable and complete job estimates from the best contractors.  This way we can review the proposals and ensure they are reasonable, and complete, and help protect you from that awful: “Oh, but I didn’t include that…”



Once the stakeholders are all identified, one hurdle remains: The problem with building a luxury home in Panama is that you are going to be based offshore during the project. Traditional planning methods don’t really work when the client is so far away. To help, we created The SARCO System™.  It is a workflow specifically designed to allow international clients to build a dream vacation home. The system removes the traditional obstacles and pitfalls normally associated with building a project away from home.


We want SARCO Architects to be the best architecture firm for international clients. It is a company based on excellence, efficiency, communication, expertise, knowledge and technology. Every member of the project team, including the client, has the complete, up-to-the-minute information on the project through our web-based communication system. As a result, our international clients trust us to make their dream vacation home a reality. They are happier, more involved, and very much look forward to returning “home” to their new property.


On top of that, we are the ONLY firm in all of Latin America (from Mexico to Argentina) to have won six design awards at the International Property Awards in London. The awards have been for the Architecture, single residence category and, most recently, in the resort architecture category. We won three awards for a resort project in the Dominican Republic (Best Resort Architecture for the Dominican Republic; nomination and subsequently awarded as Best Resort Architecture for the entire Caribbean Region and then went to World’s Finals).


But winning is not why we design the homes we do. We design not for awards, but for people. In addition to being available as your architect in Panama, we are also available to work in our home base of Costa Rica, where we may also serve as your builder, and across the Caribbean as a whole. Where will your dream home be?

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