ManuPrefab imports a increasing share of its building materials, hardware and supplies from the USA but also some artifacts, rattan, and some furniture from Bali. We source the best materials for the job at the best prices availiable on the market.
High end building materials availiable in Costa Rica are limited and have usually exchanged hands already a couple times before they can be bought at the local hardware store. Usually a couple big import companies control the import process then wholesalers sell the items to the local ferreterias which sell to the final customers. That means that besides the high import taxes and duties a couple markups are already included in the final price.
We started to import items with the biggest price differences first like pool equipment, door and window hardware and faucets for kitchen and bathrooms. The quality and selection is much higher in the USA than in the Costa Rican market. Interesting even the same brand names might come from Brazil or Mexico in lower quality to Costa Rica than from the US. We have seen price differences of 100% to 300% percent between the price in the USA and Costa Rica. Depending on the weight and dimensions the shipping charges and duties combined usually only come out to about 50% on top of the US price.
Another interesting advantage is the speed and especially the accuracy we will have the items on hand when we will need them. Bigger Costa Rican companies import themselves but they combine shipments and a lot of times there are problems where parts are missing, wrong items get delivered or similar nonsense. That can be a real problem if the wall cannot be closed because a shower valve is missing. We import at the beginning of the project all we need and store it off site securely.
We imported once GE equipment from the main GE supplier in San Jose after making already several mistakes while doing the order it took them over 8 months! to deliver the fridges. On delivery the main fridge had the main gasket missing. Price of the fridge a GE Monogram $4500 in Costa Rica comparison to $2500 in the USA. Refrigerators have a special protection in Costa Rica and need special import licenses which are a major paperwork to get. In this case we opted for the Costa Rican product since its covered by a national guarantee.
Advantages of direct import:
- Price differences of 100% to 300% on some items
- Larger selection in the USA
- Better quality on some items
- Faster and accurate shipments
Disadvantages of direct imports:
- Usually only limited product guarantee
- Risk of damages or theft on transport
- Availability of spare parts for items only available in the USA can be limited