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Construction and Renovation Volunteer Project in Costa Rica - San Jose

Construction and Renovation Volunteer Project in Costa Rica - San Jose

Improve infrastructure for the local community
Start dates
Programs start every Monday
Choose from 1-24 weeks
Volunteer hours
Up to 5 hours a day
Volunteers aged 16+ and families
Local homestay
Program fees
From $560 for 1 week
What's included
Find out here
Apply for free
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Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

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This program is ideal for:

Fit and energetic volunteers who don’t mind getting their hands dirty with practical tasks. You’ll be volunteering alongside a qualified local foreman so no experience is needed.

Project details

Ready to take up the tools and be a Construction and Renovation volunteer in Costa Rica - San José? International Volunteer HQ’s Construction and Renovation project enables volunteers to lend a hand and a hammer to community initiatives that often lack the funds, labor and supplies to get the work done. Volunteers gain building and landscaping experience while giving their time to make community spaces around San José more functional and attractive.

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

Many community construction projects in San José struggle for funding and access to labor and materials. However, local organizations are able to harness the power of volunteers and donations to get these projects completed for the benefit of the neighborhood and the people who live there.

Your support as a Construction volunteer will help to breathe new life into communities and enable initiatives to carry out their work creating healthy, vibrant spaces. You’ll take your lead from a local foreman who will provide you with direction and guidance.

Construction and Renovation volunteer work varies but can include:

  • Renovating schools and community spaces
  • Repainting buildings
  • Landscaping
  • Gardening
  • Laying bricks and tiles
  • Building shelves and desks in classrooms
Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

As job losses escalate as a result of Covid-19, it is estimated that nearly half of the global workforce is at risk of losing their livelihoods. We must improve access to jobs, decent work conditions and community services in order to achieve peace, sustainable economic growth and a better quality of life for all.

Why do Construction and Renovation volunteering in San Jose with IVHQ?

When you volunteer in construction in San José you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:

  • Helping make community spaces more appealing and useful
  • Supporting local construction initiatives
  • Practicing your Spanish
  • Developing your communication skills
  • Gaining building and landscaping experience
  • Immersing yourself fully in the Costa Rican culture
  • Exploring San José, Costa Rica’s bustling capital

Volunteer requirements

  • Volunteers under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to participate in this program
  • Volunteers aged 16 or 17 on their program start date are required to provide IVHQ with parental consent in order to participate on the program, and may be asked to provide additional document to the local team.
  • All volunteers aged 13+ are required to provide a criminal background check to IVHQ prior to departure. Those aged 13-17, if unable to obtain a criminal background check, can provide two character reference letters instead
  • All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance
  • All volunteers must speak fluent English.
Are you eligible to volunteer?

Submit a free application so we can confirm your eligibility and check availability for your preferred dates.

Apply for free

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'Who is going' users image
Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

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What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

Alex Martinez
19 Mar 2024

I gained so much life experience in just one week. I was very comfortable using IVHQ.

Rosemarie Picton
29 Feb 2024

Everyday is a learning experience, I go with an open mind and a willingness to undertake anything that is in my capacity. This would be my advice to anyone undertaking a project of any kind.

Alejandra Maytorena
23 Jun 2023

It is impossible for me to name the greatest impact that my volunteer trip had on me because there were really too many things. However, I can say that it helped me grow my self-confidence a lot. Going all by myself forced me to have confidence in myself to meet other people on my own. Immersing myself in a culture, even if it is similar to mine, presented many challenges that taught me a lot about myself. Working on such an interesting and essential project for the San Jose community was one of the most rewarding things I have ever been part of, and I will be forever grateful for having been involved.

It's worth mentioning that my volunteer trip was initially planned for two weeks, but I had such a strong desire to stay that I extended it for an additional week. If it were up to me, I would have stayed for as long as possible. It was undoubtedly the best summer, an experience that I will definitely never forget. I met so many people, and despite our cultural differences, I managed to find something in them that resembled me a lot and that helped me grow even more. I am infinitely grateful to all the people who were part of this experience, especially the locals who welcomed us as one of their own in their country.

My favorite part of the experience was the chance to meet new people from all around the world and engage in conversations about our respective cultures. Moreover, working alongside the locals on the construction project was truly incredible as it provided me with invaluable insights into Costa Rican culture and highlighted the many similarities we share.

Don't hesitate, just take the leap. By embracing the risk, you open yourself up to the immense impact this experience can have on you. It's absolutely worth it – you'll forge lifelong friendships and gain a wealth of knowledge, both about the world and your own self-discovery.

Oriana Espinoza Baena
27 Apr 2023

The experience gave me the opportunity to slow down and enjoy a different culture. The locals are extraordinary and extremely friendly, so I felt part of the community almost immediately. were working on a house for single moms, and in the month I was in the program, I witnessed its completion. I helped with different tasks, and I saw my mark - which feels pretty awesome!!

I loved to see how much was built through donations and volunteering over the years. It's hard to see the impact you have in a couple of weeks, but when you get to be part of something done over the years, it can be pretty grand and fulfilling. The community team working on the project was very kind and giving with their knowledge. I appreciate all the shared knowledge and welcoming attitude

I don't think there is a way to fully describe the experience with words. The only way to understand how incredible volunteering can be is by doing it. Just go for it and be open-minded. Have no expectations and submerge yourself in the culture and project. You will enjoy every moment!

Arman Kassam
13 Sep 2022

The guidance from IVHQ was amazing I also felt like I had support if I needed it. This made my first volunteer trip much less stressful. The local team was also amazing! When leaving, I realized that travelling alone and volunteering is something that I wanted to do way more often. Moving forward, I will always be on the look out for opportunities to do stuff like this as it really was an amazing experience. I would say that the best things in life are often risky and a little scary so do your research and take the risk if you want to challenge yourself and make amazing memories.

Patricia Silva
29 Aug 2022

I worked at Parque La Libertad, which is used by families living in a poor neighborhood nearby. I was contributing to built a drain in a soccer field that is not being used currently due to the heavy rains. I have no words to describe how amazing this journey has been. I am tremendously glad I have started it with IVHQ. So, I can only say, a huge thank you for the support and encouragement in the overall process.


To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

Academic course credit

Academic course credit through International Volunteer HQ and Intern Abroad HQ.

Academic course credit

Gain course credit from your college or university and meet your academic requirements when completing a volunteer abroad program with International Volunteer HQ!

Learn about course credit


Volunteer Abroad in Costa Rica San Jose with IVHQ


San José is Costa Rica’s modern, metropolitan, cultural hub. The capital city has been hailed as one of the most visited destinations in Central America and is the central point for tourists arriving in Costa Rica. It’s got excellent eateries, an interesting variety of museums, markets, shops, parks and nightlife and is only a short trip to any of the numerous natural attractions and adventures in the region.

Arrival and orientation

After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San José on the Sunday before your start date.

When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and taken to the volunteer accommodation in San José. This is included in your Program Fee.

We recommend that volunteers under the age of 18 travel internationally with a notarized letter from their parents to support their documentation. If you are traveling in Costa Rica prior to your program, the local team will pick you up at your San José accommodation the day before your orientation.

Your check out is at 11am on the last Saturday of your program.

The compulsory program orientation is hosted by our Costa Rica team at their offices in San José on Sunday or Monday.

Orientation covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Costa Rica – an introduction to Costa Rica, its customs, language training details, rules and expectations, safety, travel opportunities in Costa Rica, and an introduction to your project and placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.

Volunteer schedule example

First day

You will be escorted to your placement by a local coordinator and introduced to the placement staff you will be working with.


During the week, you will have a morning or afternoon shift, which will last around 3 to 5 hours. Your volunteer work and hours are dependent on the location and type of project you are participating in but a typical morning schedule is as follows:

8:00 AM Breakfast with your host family.
9:00 AM Leave home and travel to your placement. You will join the local staff and will receive a duty roster and plan for work.
12:00 PM Lunch at a local restaurant.
1:00 - 6:00 PM Work at the placement usually ends. You are free to travel back to your accommodation, go sightseeing or take Spanish lessons.
7:00 PM Dinner with the host family.


Whether you want to explore or relax on your weekends in San José , there’s plenty of opportunity to do both. Stroll down the bustling Central Avenue in downtown San José and take in a museum, listen to street performers or do some shopping. Then check out the stunning architecture of the National Theater of Costa Rica, taste-test the city’s fabulous coffee or sample a brew from San José ’s blossoming craft-beer industry.

It’s worth noting that Sunday is a religious day of rest and many stores and restaurants will be closed. Costa Ricans tend to devote Sundays to spending time with their family. If you wish, you can accompany your host family to their local church, as a Latin American church service is a unique and special experience for many volunteers.

On long weekends you may choose to travel around the rest of Costa Rica and the many cities, volcanoes, jungles, coffee plantations and beaches which are more than worth a visit. Many of these are only a short trip from San José .

Most IVHQ volunteers choose to take advantage of our Costa Rica - Travel and tour add-ons in their free time. Please note that volunteers on more remote projects such as Turtle Conservation and Eco-Agriculture Conservation will only be able to join these activities before or after their program.

Accommodation and WiFi

In San Jose volunteers are accommodated in homestays with local families - it’s an immersive experience that connects you with an authentic insight into the Costa Rican way of life. You will find living conditions are comfortable and you can expect your accomodation to have electricity, drinkable running water and western bathrooms. Low pressure showers are common and the water is not always heated. Bedrooms have single and bunk beds with bedding provided. You can expect to share a room with up to six other volunteers of the same gender in most homestays It is possible for volunteers to upgrade to a private room (double bed, shared washroom) for $62 per person, per week.

If you are traveling as a family, the local team will place you in a separate homestay to ensure all family members are accommodated together.

Please note, volunteers under the age of 18 who are traveling solo will be accommodated separately from those over the age of 18. If there are other volunteers under the age of 18 participating at the same time, the local team will do their best to ensure they are accommodated together.

WiFi is available at the homestays, and you will also have access to computers and WiFi at the local team’s office in San José.


Volunteers are provided with breakfast and dinner at their accommodation. Breakfast typically consists of toast, fruit, eggs, rice and beans accompanied with tea or coffee. Dinner usually includes: meat (typically chicken), starches and vegetables. Costa Rica’s national dish, Gallo Pinto, is made of rice and beans and served with nearly every meal. Lunches are not provided to San José -based volunteers, as they are typically away from their accommodation at midday. Budget between $5 and $10 per day to buy lunch.

If you have specific dietary requirements, our local teams and homestays can cater to you, however keep in mind that as a volunteer, there is a need to be flexible.


  • USD

Spots are limited. For a Registration Fee of just US$329 (approximately $329) you secure your spot and unlock all our preparation and training tools.

You don't need to worry about paying your Program Fee until you get closer to your start date.

Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
  • USD
1 week $560 Equivalent to $80/day
2 weeks $945 Equivalent to $68/day
3 weeks $1,340 Equivalent to $64/day
4 weeks $1,710 Equivalent to $61/day
5 weeks $2,020 Equivalent to $58/day
6 weeks $2,330 Equivalent to $55/day
8 weeks $2,950 Equivalent to $53/day
10 weeks $3,570 Equivalent to $51/day
12 weeks $4,190 Equivalent to $50/day
16 weeks $5,430 Equivalent to $48/day
20 weeks $6,670 Equivalent to $48/day
24 weeks $7,910 Equivalent to $47/day
  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately $329) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Costa Rica generally find US$150 - US$200 per week to be sufficient for expenses. Please note this budget is for general expenses and does not include money you will need for any weekend activities you plan to do.
  • Breakfast and dinner
  • Airport pick-up
  • Accommodation
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Personalized preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Discounts on language lessons
  • Discounts on travel and tour add-ons
  • Certificate of International Volunteer Service

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • Lunch
  • Transport to and from your placement each day
  • Return to the airport when your program finishes
  • Flights
  • Visa (if required), travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check.
  • Personal spending money for snacks, laundry, public transportation, drinks and leisure activities during your free time.

Free-time experiences & tours in San Jose

Take your volunteer experience to the next level with IVHQ's affordable activity and tour add-ons in San Jose! Explore your options below and learn how to book them once you've been accepted onto the IVHQ San Jose program.

Beach and Jungle Mini Adventure - Manuel Antonio
Beach and Jungle Mini Adventure - Manuel Antonio

Immerse yourself in Manuel Antonio’s stunning natural beauty and thrilling activities on this 6-day adventure

Coffee & Nature Experience - San Jose
Coffee & Nature Experience - San Jose

Embark on a full-day adventure exploring La Paz Waterfall Gardens, an animal sanctuary, and a Poas Volcano Tour, followed by a Coffee Farm experience.

Mini Adventure  - San Jose
Mini Adventure - San Jose

Experience a comprehensive 6-day Mini Adventure, featuring Arenal Volcano, the Britt Coffee Tour, La Paz Waterfall Gardens, whitewater rafting, and a visit to the pristine Tortuga Island.


Spanish language lessons

Fluency in Spanish is not a prerequisite for the IVHQ Costa Rica program, however, learning basic conversational Spanish will help you maximize the benefit of your program. The language lessons are tailored to each volunteer’s current level of Spanish and classes run from Monday through to Friday. The cost is very affordable and offered exclusively to IVHQ volunteers. Please note these lessons are not available on the Holiday Experience, Eco-Agriculture or Turtle Conservation projects.

San Jose Language Lessons:

  • 2-hour Small Group Classes: $180 (approximately $180) per week
  • 1-hour Private Classes: $205 (approximately $205) per week
  • 2-hour Private Classes: $400 (approximately $400) per week

Check what's required to visit Costa Rica

Safety and support

Safety and support with IVHQ

Safety and support

IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.

  • All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
  • All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
  • All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
  • All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Learn more about IVHQ's safety

Essential country information

Essential country information

Capital San Jose
Population 5 million
Languages Spanish
Currency Costa Rican Colón (CRC)
Time zone UTC−06:00

Weather and climate: Costa Rica is unequivocally a tropical country. Although you get much cooler temperatures in the mountains, the average annual temperature for most of the country lies between 71°F (21.7°C) and 81°F (27°C). The coolest months are from November through to January, and the warmest months are from March through to May. San Jose stands at approximately 1170 meters altitude and has a mean annual temperature of 69°F (20.6°C).

Apply to check if you're eligible!

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How to get started

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