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  • Writer's pictureNik Valcic

Understanding Building Regulations: COS and CUS

If you are looking to buy land to develop here in the Vallarta area you will need to get familiar with these two terms; COS and CUS. The Coeficiente de Ocupación del Suelo (COS) (Land Occupancy Coefficient) and the Coeficiente de Utilización de Suelo (CUS) (Land Use Coefficient) are two of the most important factors that should be considered during the initial stage of any architectural and urban project, as they have a direct impact on the way you can build on a certain property. These mathematical factors are part of the regulations that each state establishes within its programs of urban planning and territorial order and are applied by each municipality.

Land Occupancy Coefficient COS

This is the factor that, multiplied by the total surface of the land, will give us the maximum extension of the property on which we can build.

Example: If we have 100 m2 of land and the regulations establish a COS of 0.8, we multiply 100 by 0.8, resulting in 80, so we can build on an area of 80 m2. In other words, it will be built on 80 percent of the area, and the remaining 20 percent should be left free to be used as green or open areas.

Land Use Coefficient (CUS)

The CUS is the relationship between the total area of the property and the total surface area of the project, covering the ground floor and the upper floors.

Example: If in the same lot of 100 m2 we have a CUS of 1.6, we multiply 100 by 1.6 and obtain 160. Therefore, we can develop a building with a total area of 160 m2, distributed over the number of levels it has.

How to find these factors for your land

The COS and CUS vary according to each area of the municipality. Municipalities adjust these coefficients to help control density, a popular commercial area will have higher coefficients whereas residential areas will have lower coefficients,. CUS and COS are not the only factors that come into play when developing land. The use of land (commercial, residential, industrial, etc.) also comes into play in this regard.

For the COS and CUS of a property located in Puerto Vallarta, you need to submit a Dictamen de Trazos, Usos y Destinos Específicos to Dirección de Planeación Urbana del H. Ayuntamiento. The requirements can be found at In Bahía de Banderas, both factors are indicated in the Constancia de Compatibilidad Urbanística, managed by the Dirección de Desarrollo Urbano, Ecología y Ordenamiento Territorial. The requirements for this procedure can be found at

Other Aspects to Consider

Both the Dictamen de Trazos, Usos y Destinos Específicos and the Constancia de Compatibilidad Urbanística contain information, rules and additional restrictions that must be considered in the design of a project. These factors are divided into Transformados, the variety of other factors such as the number of levels that are allowed in that area, maximum number of homes, notifications of public infrastructure such as roads, pipelines, water lines and electrical, as well as other types of limiting factors. Of course natural features are also a consideration, endemic vegetation, beaches and federal areas and runoff, streams or bodies of water in the area.


The COS and CUS are important to harmonious development and guarantee a suitable density for each area of the city. Investors are especially interested in knowing these factors because they indicate the potential of a plot and, of course, translate into the economic calculations. It is important that anyone interested in developing should be aware of this issue, and if they undertake an architectural project, they should seek advice from professionals who can support them and take the necessary steps for the project to be built in accordance with the regulations. If a construction does not respect these guidelines, it can be shut down.


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