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Panama – Property Building and Renovation

Panama is a popular destination for those looking to build or renovate a property. In this article, we will explore the procedures and rules around planning permission, listed building status, and conservation areas, as well as how to find reliable builders and architects, and what permits and licenses are needed.

Planning Permission in Panama

It is necessary to apply for planning permission in Panama to build or renovate a property. The procedure for obtaining planning permission is as follows:

  • Submit a building application to the Ministry of Housing.
  • Wait for a response from the Ministry of Housing, which will typically take around 6 weeks.
  • If the application is approved, the Ministry of Housing will issue a building permit.
  • If the application is rejected, it is possible to appeal the decision.

It is important to note that the process of obtaining planning permission can be complicated, and it is advisable to seek the help of a professional architect or planning consultant.

Listed Building Status and Conservation Areas

Panama has a number of listed buildings, conservation areas, and preservation orders in place to protect its architectural heritage. If a property is listed, situated in a conservation area, or subject to a preservation order, there are additional rules and regulations that must be followed when building or renovating. These may include restrictions on the materials and techniques that can be used, as well as limits on the types of changes that can be made.

It is important to check the status of a property before embarking on any building or renovation work, as failure to comply with the rules and regulations can result in fines and legal action.

Finding Reliable Builders in Panama

Finding reliable builders in Panama can be a challenge, but there are a number of professional organizations that can help. These include:


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  • Panama Chamber of Construction: This is the professional association for builders in Panama. They can provide information and advice on finding reliable builders in Panama. You can contact them at http://www.capac.org/.

  • Panama Society of Engineers and Architects: This is the professional association for engineers and architects in Panama. They can provide information on finding an architect and offer guidance on the process. You can contact them at http://www.scp.org.pa/.

It is also important to check that builders have the necessary licenses and permits to carry out the work, as well as references and insurance.

Permits and Licenses

In addition to planning permission, there are a number of permits and licenses that may be required when building or renovating a property in Panama. These include:

  • Building permit: This is required for most types of building work, including new construction, alterations, and extensions.

  • Electrical permit: This is required for any electrical work carried out as part of the building or renovation process.

  • Plumbing permit: This is required for any plumbing work carried out as part of the building or renovation process.

It is important to check the specific requirements for the type of work being carried out, as well as any additional permits or licenses that may be needed.

Finding a Local Architect

Finding a local architect in Panama can be done through a number of professional organizations, including:

  • Panama Society of Engineers and Architects: This is the professional association for engineers and architects in Panama. They can provide information on finding an architect and offer guidance on the process. You can contact them at http://www.scp.org.pa/.

It is important to check that architects have the necessary qualifications and experience for the type of work being carried out, as well as references and insurance.

Buying Land in Panama

If you are buying land in Panama, there are some common pitfalls to be aware of, particularly in relation to planning permission and boundaries. Here are some key considerations:

  • Planning permission: Before buying land, it is important to check that planning permission has been granted for the type of building or renovation work that you plan to carry out. It is also important to check the local zoning plan to ensure that the land is suitable for your purposes.

    • Boundaries: It is important to establish clear boundaries for the land you are buying, as disputes over boundaries can be costly and time-consuming. It is advisable to have a surveyor carry out a boundary survey before making a purchase.

    • Land ownership: It is important to ensure that the seller has clear title to the land, and that there are no disputes over ownership.

    It is also important to work with a reliable and trustworthy real estate agent or lawyer when buying land in Panama.

    Building or renovating a property in Panama requires careful planning and attention to detail. Planning permission is required for most types of building work, and there are additional rules and regulations in place for listed buildings, conservation areas, and preservation orders. Finding reliable builders and architects, as well as obtaining the necessary permits and licenses, is also important. When buying land, it is important to be aware of potential pitfalls, including planning permission, boundaries, and land ownership. With the right advice and support, however, building or renovating a property in Panama can be a rewarding experience.


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