Buying BVI Land To Build a New House

Are you having trouble finding the perfect house, villa, or condominium to buy in the British Virgin Islands? If so, you might be wondering about the feasibility of buying BVI land instead, and building a home to suit your tastes exactly!

Indeed, you can save money when you purchase raw land and custom-build your own house, because the stamp duty or transfer tax is charged only on the value of the land. And you’ll pay a greatly reduced property tax annually as well, at least until your house is completed.

The land-buying process is basically the same as for buying an existing house (what we refer to as a “resale home”) but there are some interesting rules and restrictions:

  1. You’re required to develop the land and complete the main building within 3 years of purchase. It can take 9 months to build a smaller home, and up to 18 months or more for larger projects, from planning stage to completion.
  2. You must spend a minimum of $250,000 USD to build your new house or villa. The BVI development requirements are even higher with larger sites with more acreage. Environment and other planning considerations will determine the appropriate level of development. Subdivision is allowed only if part of a comprehensive development.
  3. You cannot resell your land until you have fulfilled your development agreement. (This rule is in place to minimize offshore speculation.) If that’s unavoidable, the BVI government can charge a penalty on the sale of undeveloped property. However, they may grant an extension to allow you to fulfill your development commitment.

A breach of these conditions may result in the BVI government placing a restriction against the property.

Costs to build on your own land

  • For quality construction and finishes, prices start at around $350-$500 USD per square foot.
  • Design and labor-supervision costs will cost about 10% of the building costs. Several first-class architects and contractors are based in the BVI, and good, skilled labor is available. Architectural fees will vary according to the level of involvement, responsibility, and the complexity of the work.
  • A swimming pool will cost around $60,000+ USD to construct.

We at Emerald Properties BVI will be glad to help you choose from the many good architects on the Islands, who fully understand the design requirements that will be approved by Town and Country Planning for buying BVI land.

Or, get the best of both worlds by buying your land directly from the builder!

A simpler, more cost-effective alternative to building your new home the traditional way is to contract with one of the local builders. They provide the land for you to buy, and give you a choice of various home designs. They will then build and customize your home for you.

This can reduce or eliminate many of the unknowns with building to suit, and you will be working with a reliable builder who can deliver a quality home to you on schedule. We have several builders in our virtual Rolodex that we can recommend if you are interested in a smoother, more predictable way to have a custom home built on your own land.

Legalities of buying land here

  • The majority of land in the British Virgin Islands is owned in “fee simple.”  A purchaser will normally acquire absolute title, which is then recorded in the BVI governmental Land Registry.Registered titles relate to a detailed cadastral survey that defines legal boundaries. No transfer of land can take place until the boundaries of the property have been determined to the satisfaction of the Registrar of Lands.
  • Property in the BVI may also be held on long lease from the Crown or private individuals. But since the duration of such leases is 99 years, leaseholders enjoy all the benefits of an absolute title.  (Unless living in the BVI proves so healthful to your longevity that you outlive your lease, that is!)
  • Purchase of a property in the BVI does not in itself establish resident status. However, an identification card is available once you have your Non-Belongers Land Holding License (NBLHL) which will allow you to reside in the BVI for a period of up to 6 months. A certificate of residence, entitling the holder to land or embark in the Territory for an indefinite period, may be granted to a person who intends to reside permanently, year-round, in the BVI.

For building materials not available here, you can have them shipped to the BVI from anywhere in the world.

Call or contact Emerald Properties BVI 284-541-6861; your trusted partner for finding that special dream property to buy in the BVI. You can rely on our expertise to help you understand BVI real estate rules!