I am a real estate lady, I have worked on a lot of design and renovation projects and a couple of new builds. And I just want to say that building something yourself in this country, or a project involving a lot of construction, really is not for the faint-hearted. Seriously stressful, nothing happens on time, nobody works to their quote, nobody ever has all the materials you need. There are so many properties here for sale, just find one that you like that someone has already built and made nice, make a cheeky offer and then decorate it to your own taste. But don't get involved in build-your-own or buying off-plan, those are doomed.
I bought my main house and doubled the amount of space by building the rest ourselves. Tedious for sure. It worked out well.
I avoid lawyers like the plague they are.Someone also told me that the only way to do business in DR is to smile sweetly and hold a big stick. In this case, a powerful lawyer is the big stick. Mine is from one of the top families, he knows everyone who is anyone personally - related to most of them - and someone like that is going to make sure you don't get shafted. And I know for a fact that he would have stopped me from losing money on this type of thing.
Buying a property before it is done in the DR? Well, you see what happens. Does one need a lawyer to prevent them from silly actions? In that case, by all means get as many lawyers as you need. The more connected the better.