Process to build a house in Chile

Hello, lurked the old board several years ago when I lived in the country. I’m considering searching for then buying some land 2-5 hours south of Santiago towards the cordillera and building a small 2 bed cabin on it, maybe 75 meters squared one story. I’m curious about how things work vs the typical US experience as far as regulations. Is it a free for all outside of a city or still the same general process?

In other words, I believe it would be in the US (highly simplified) something like:
-Pick building site
-Do soil test
-soil test + house size/weight determines foundation requirements (maybe a default prescriptive foundation is allowed)
-architect/engineer creates plans or modifies existing plans
-city approves plans after lots of back and forth
-dig foundation, inspect, pour cement
-dig and install septic system
-frame house and roof, lots of inspections along the way
-finish interior, exterior, water, electrical, more inspections
-finish everything then get final inspection for occupancy permit

Dig some holes for post foundation without any tests nor engineering
build a wood box on top of cement posts with no inspection, hook up water and electricity
No inspections nor building code (at least enforced), move in whenever it’s semi habitable if you want

I’d be interested in people’s experiences building in a rural environment.


We are currently in the process of constructing a home in Santiago, and the only word I have for it is: nightmare

The pure, typical Chilean pathetic inability to commit to ANYTHING makes me regret starting this project… It has been officially 11 months and we have not even toughed our lot… The architects are nothing short of useless and is similar to herding cats while the constructors are ghosts. You find one then they disappear for weeks at a time. Nothing is efficient, nothing is concrete, nothing is organized. Every Chilean wants to utilize the overly used excuse of “Covid-1984” for the reason of doing, nothing. I understand it has messed up supply chains, materials, etc., but to not even be at that stage yet and having this class of problems, that is not Covid-1984, that is just pure, old school laziness.

I have a friend in Virginia who started his home after us, and has already broke ground. You probably will too at the current rate of our advances here…

I cannot comment on home building rural. I would assume it is the same, but I hope I am wrong…


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All of this has happened before and will happen again. BSG!

Yeah its a pain to be the jeffe. The mice will play while the cats away.
You gotta get a phD in riffraff management

I have heard of other people bringing in a builder or contractor from outside of chile. If they are american and spend 6 months to 18 months overseeing/doing the building there are several extra benefits available. It can definatley be winwin in comparison to the slow and painful boat that is sourcing and overseeing/managing/herding the local cats. Especially if you dont know enough to know when they are walking you down the primrose path of nonsense.

“Oh we dont do it ‘that way’ in Chile”
You do now on my project hotdog!

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Does anyone know a builder/contractor from abroad??? I would hire one in a nanosecond.

In rural locations, there is an alarming shortage of competent contractors and they’re booked months or years in advance. But the crappy contractors will be very available for the first week or so. Then the client realizes that contractor is doing 10 different jobs all over the place and the client needs to chill. They will tell you about material shortage but they should have told you that in advance. I checked on a renovation by a crappy contractor (maestro) and encountered a worker trying to hammer screws into gyprock. Another contractor recommended by a crooked English-speaking lawyer got a huge downpayment and just disappeared. First he supplied excuses (couldn’t work in the rain) but then he just stopped returning calls. He is in Linares.

Part of the process of adaptation to Chile. Crappy is available immediately. Good takes time and patience. Plan well.

One of the requirements that should be in the list to those wishing to live in Chile should be " basic knowledge of anything that has to do with construction or general repairs". to find someone capable with an ounce of honesty and ethics is no less than a miracle. Sad but true…Hey hlf2888! how r u doing?


The Chinese don’t bother with all those rules and regulations. They managed to build this big retail warehouse in Serena without any type of permission. Like many here, they pay the fines, pull down the clausura notices, and continue trading.

How did they do it? - with local help.

Some Chileans give Capitalism a bad name!

(The Spanish Wikipedia entry gives more info on this dodgy individual)

Gi Glorita, that was 2012, learned my lesson, wait for the good contractors. Patiencia. Sorry it took so long to answer, did not get a notice. Also there is always a gringo tax.

I have experienced every one of the issues outlined here, and more.

My worst experience was frantically fitting extra alzaprimas to shore up a cement ceiling while the cement was actually being poured in order to prevent it from collapsing.
The maestros had used insufficient numbers of Pine support posts that were vibrating, literally about to burst with the weight of the cement on them - with me and a helper underneath.

Never again…too old for that sh*t.

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Thank you for the corroboration, Feargle, lest someone think I was just making it all up. I cannot emphasize too much how frustrating it is to build effectively and decently in this country. Anyone who intends to do so must be made of very solid stuff, and be willing to accept something far less than satisfactory.


Methinks Findes es PatX, welcome back señor…hope this place seems more welcoming than AllChile to your POV, if so, please don’t troll…

Methinks a thinly veiled allegation of trolling is not the sort of welcome one might like to see. But oh well, and good-day sir

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Meant as partial humor señor.

Unveiling the Veiled :)))