FEB 23, 2024

Buying Land & Building in the BVI – 10 Top Tips

Designing and bringing to life your very own customized home where every aspect has been shaped to align with your vision and lifestyle is an experience of dreams. The reality, however, can be daunting, especially when navigating the process in a foreign country away from familiar processes and people. However, the BVI is home to numerous talented professionals ready to guide you through the entire process. Architects, interior designers, surveyors, landscapers, project managers and contractors abound. Your appointed realtor will know most if not all these professionals and be able to walk you through the options and make the necessary introductions.

1. BVI law states that all non-Belonger landholders break ground within three years of purchase. Planning and execution of your build will obviously depend on the nature of your home, but you are typically looking at 18 to 24 months. From start to finish.

2. BVI law requires one to spend a minimum of $250,000USD on your home – not an impossible feat, we assure you. For superior construction and finishes, you are looking at anything from $350 to $500USD per square foot for construction.

3. You will need to state your exact intention for your new build and these details will be recorded in your Non Belonger’s Land Holder’s License (NBLHL). If you decide, mid-build, to add on an extra bedroom or similar, you will need to have your License amended to reflect your changes.

4. To avoid speculation, the BVI does not permit you to resell your land until you have completed your development agreement. Extensions are not unheard of, but if you do need to exit your investment unavoidably, then you will be liable to pay a penalty before closing.

5. Buying land in the BVI does not automatically establish residency status, as it can can do elsewhere in the Caribbean. Once you are in possession of your NBLHL, you qualify for an identification card which permits you to reside in the BVI for up to six months. If you wish to reside in the BVI year-round, then you can apply for a Certificate of Residence which will allow you to be in the Territory for an infinite period.

6. During your due diligence, in addition to being clear on your boundaries, you need to ascertain whether your land has the appropriate road access. It is also worth exploring the proximity to utilities as there will be a cost to connect if they are not already nearby.

7. Spend some time at the site and visit at different times of the day. You will get a feel for the vantage points and the direction of the breezes.  Send up a drone to see what the views would be like from your pool deck / veranda.  This will help in your planning and designs.

8. We recommend that your appointed architect visit the property in person and does not rely exclusively on survey drawings or 3D imaging. The BVI is a region of varying topography, and if you’ve chosen a hillside lot then you might require retaining walls and related structures. In turn the site may have boulders and mature trees that you want to incorporate into the designs.

9. In the BVI, ghuts (think waterways that collect runoff as opposed to anything linked to digestion) play a vital role in the prevention of flooding, and understanding their location and path is extremely important. Blocking what may seem to be a redundant watercourse could have an impact on your property.

10. Understand if the parcel is subject to covenants and become familiar with them to ensure they don’t prohibit you from creating your dream home or limit how you use it. Find out if the neighboring parcels have covenant in place to ensure you don’t build in your dream location only to discover in a few years’ time that you have a noisy business nearby.

Creating your own unique retreat is a venture well worth undertaking in the BVI. And we’re here to hold your hand through every step of this extraordinary experience.

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