Building our new house in Belize, the Saga Continues, Good, Bad and yes Ugly!

New Captains at the helm…

When I last posted, we were in a “stuck position”, with the entire shell and interior of the house basically completed. Of course, final work, like installation of lighting, ceiling fans, finished plumbing work was being held up by major issues. Notably, delays in the finished install of cabinets, which has held up the install of granite countertops, followed by plumbing, like sinks and faucets.

sunrise

 Sunrise from the Peterson Beach Home, who says sunsets are the best ?

Of course, the kitchen counters and granite were not the only issue in the kitchen, as you probably remember. The incorrect and non- functioning folding windows and doors that were ordered needed to be replaced by supplier from Guatemala. For well over two months, all I heard was “they won’t answer my calls”, they won’t reply to my emails”, and finally, “I don’t think they are going to replace them”!

fansdoor

Ceiling Fans installed by Nelsons Electricians, but no power to test them yet

Enough is enough, and Marsha and I have taken control of tis situation by ordering the correct folding window for kitchen, and folding large doors for living room, from Benny’s here in Belize. Marsha has taken great pains to send them all the spec’s, including legal drawings created by our Architect Tracy, so they order and install the correct windows and doors. And these will actually have the ability to lock!

cabinets

Cabinets arriving and ready to be installed

I would highly suggest that if you plan to build your house in Belize, you personally take control of specialty orders, and if possible, get them ordered and installed by a reputable Belize company.

One good thing that gave us a ton of relief was the delivery of all our appliances, ready to install.

appli

Appliances arrive to be installed after cabinets are installed, and we have electric to house ?

The past few days things have started to get better and we see finality to our building project. In addition to taking control of the window/door issue, we also took total responsibility for all granite costs and install. Lucky for us our granite is coming from a supplier right down the road from us here in Maya Beach, A.L. Construction who are  personal friends of ours. In fact, we paid in full for all the interior and exterior granite, and they bumped the installation ahead of those with only deposits.

granite

Granite counters arriving for install in kitchen.

Issues with payments to our cabinet maker / woodworker Conrad Lewis in Hopkins, Belize, were eliminated when we arranged to take over payments for that too, and he has already installed all kitchen cabinets.

installedcabapp

Cabinets installed and ready for granite install.

On another note, you probably remember our large mounds of “lagoon sand” that was finally spread over the property. Well, regretfully the guy who was not our regular bobcat guy working for Nelson Montalvo, mixed the beautiful beach sand that was set aside, to be placed on top of the lagoon sand on our beach. The result is hard packed, full of debris, crappy beach sand. Definitely not happy with this.

But, there’s always a silver lining if you know where to look. We had a meeting with our builder Nelson Montalvo the other day, and went over our list of everything that needs to be completed or repaired. Nelson will be having his bobcat “expert” come back and fix what was done, moving some good sand to the beach after scraping off the bad. If needed we will also have him bring in some clean river sand.

generac

Whole House Gas Generator installed.

Our electrical stuff is all installed now, and Freddie our electrician / plumber that works for Nelson, even installed our Generac “whole house” generator, with oversight by the local Generac dealer, Belmopan Aggregates and Hardware. This system will kick on so fast in an outage that we won’t even notice lights flickering!

electric

After a year and all electric installed, the power finally run to house.

Surprise! As I am writing I realize there’s a strange motor outside, and it didn’t sound like a vehicle. I head out to the porch of the cabana, and low and behold, the generator is on ! It ran for ten minutes and shut off, obviously an automatic self test. Sweet!

treeshouse

The first set of palm trees installed.

I will close with a shot of our first group of Palm trees delivered and planted. Things are really starting to come together, finally, despite the “bad and ugly”.

treesarrive

Palm trees being delivered, who says size doesn’t matter ?

We were very lucky to have Nelson Montalvo and all his guys and equipment on our house build from day one. They are excellent at what they do, and with his constant attention, and working hand in hand with the cabinet and granite guys, we should be in our new home in a week or so.

And this time, I will say with confidence, that week or so will occur this month.

Cheers all,

The Pirate….Gary

 

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Building Our New Home in, the Good, Bad and yes, Horrid that can and will happen.

A new “deadline” in set for “move in day”, at end of January 2018…Place your bets !

house sideview

A side vie of house taken by our neighbor and friend, Jessica, notice beach sand spread !

When we last “spoke” there were more delays, doors and windows were installed that were incorrect, and virtually we were at a stand still on our build. During the holidays my crew was shut down for two weeks for the holidays by my builder Kevin Brodsky. I totally agree that everyone should have the opportunity to take time off with family and friends during the Christmas Holiday, and include over New Years for some.

parrot

During the holidays we started getting visits by a local celebrity 😉

 

The crew on my job site since day one, and the ones who have build our house, work for a local private Belize contractor, who is working on many projects. I found out after the shut down, that my guys here actually choose to work through the two week holiday on another job site. I say this to bring into light the work ethic of local Belizean builders and their crews. These construction workers work hard, long hours, on my job site, they work ten days on and four off. They and their families are used to being apart for long periods of time, because these guys live to provide for their families. Sure, there are Belize holidays that they do take off, but usually no more than a couple days.

We obviously are “Not in Kansas Anymore”!

 

So after the “holiday shutdown”, my guys were back to work on my building site, and taking over where they left off. One of the first things needing to be done, was to continue spreading the “lagoon sand” piles left on our property, spreading over our beach.

fandelivery

Oh boy ! Our specialty ceiling fans being delivered !

As we found out that finally our special weatherproof ceiling fans from Minka that had arrived a month earlier in Belize City, would be delivered and installed this week. Our electrician Freddie was due to the house to finish installing switches, and the fans. He also was going to finish and prepare for the company in Belmopan that we purchased our “Whole House” generator, to install it.

fansinstalled

Freddie our electrician installed the new “moisture guard” Minka ceiling fans.

One interesting fact at this point, is that although we have had all utilities to the  pedestal and Cabana the underground lines had never been run to the house, which was completely wired already.We were now at the point that this needed to get done to finish installs and testings.

hanginglightswindow

Freddie also installed the pendant lights in front of kitchen windows. Another reason windows are wrong, and need to be replaced, we can’t open windows, because they would break the lights 😉

And then there were utility trenches.

Trench

Trench to run electric cable…whenever it finally arrives ?

Freddie the electrician and his helper spent two days installing fans, running the water lines, and other fun stuff.

And then there was a major excitement day for me…my crew started building my barbecue center on the deck.

outdoorbarb

Outdoor barbecue center is coming along fine, awaiting arrival of my two smokers, grill and “adult beverage refrigerator” 😉

The weekend is here, and the heavy electric cable that was supposed to be delivered last week to hook up electric from pedestal to house, on a Benny’s truck, never showed up. So  we appear to be back to “it’s coming this Tuesday”, and hopefully they mean in two days?

When they do we can have the installers set up and install the generator.

Kevin our builder also told us all our sinks, faucets, and various plumbing supplies will arrive early this coming week, as well as all our appliances on separate truck, from Bennies in Belize City.

As I write our cabinet maker is on the way with our cabinets for kitchen and bathroom, so plumbing and granite counters can be installed next week.

cabinetsdelivered

My cabinet builder Conrad’s guys arrived just now with Kitchen cabinets. Yipppppee!

As we enter what should be the final stretch, and everything is coming together, it is fair to say that we are thrilled with the workmanship on our new house. The crew are very conscientious, detail orientated, skilled and hard working. Our house is beautiful, and we have daily complements by both locals as well as vacationers to the area. Although there seemed to be many “bumps” in the “building road”, some large some small, and some still happening, we know the end result will be awesome.

 

If all the planet aligns, lady luck looks favorably on us, and I step in a steamy lucky pile on the beach, all this will be accomplished, and we can move in by Feb. 1st, 2018.

Stay tuned for the update.

The Pirate…..Gary

 

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Building your new house in Belize, the “Good, Bad and yes, sometimes ugly !

via Building your new house in Belize, the “Good, Bad and yes, sometimes ugly !

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Building your new house in Belize, the “Good, Bad and yes, sometimes Ugly !

                                        “Dead in the water in Belize!”

 

You may have noticed that for the past three weeks there have been no blog posts from “The Pirate”. You may also remember that we were supposed to be in our new home by the Christmas Holidays, and by contract, in by December 31st !

1

House from the water

Three weeks ago my builder shut down his business and went on vacation, returning yesterday, the 4th of January. Not sure if this was good or bad for his workers, but at least they got to spend time with their families. Kevin took off for the holidays last year as well, and I am not begrudging anyone from taking a vacation with family and friends. I am however telling you that some things about building are out of your control no matter where you choose to build.

parrot

A recent visitor to Pirates Paradise 

So here we are, two days after his return, waiting for the crews to show up and take up where they left off. The half leveled lot still has a few large piles of lagoon sand to spread, no underground utilities to the house, although they are at the road and cabana.

piles

Piles of lagoon sand, waiting to be spread

During the “shut down”, we purchased and had delivered a whole house gas generator, which needs to be raised up on a wood platform on the concrete area we had poured before the guys shut down.

gen

Whole House Generator waiting for install

Now we get to the “fun stuff”, doors, windows and cabinets for the house. You may remember me talking about the large folding glass door to deck, and the folding window over sink area. This matter is yet to be resolved, and in fact, the company in Guatemala has yet to confirm that they will actually come back and replace both of them.

During the “break” we had our architect come and measure the kitchen window area, and where the existing window is installed, and she finds them unacceptable. In fact, they are not what she got approved with the Central Building Authority of Belize, who set standards. The windows are three large glass panels, but should be six panels and should fold outwards over the deck. The ones installed are fold inwards over sink, blocking access to where sink and faucet will be.

Another issue she found was the fact that the window was installed to low and will cause issues with the kitchen counters when installed. As we do have more time to resolve this issue, because of delays with cabinet maker, we are hoping when cabinets arrive, the correct window will be installed and in the correct height.

Until the kitchen window is correct, we also have had to wait to build the outdoor barbecue center, because it needs to match the kitchen counter and window height.

So you see, we are truly “dead in the water” so to speak, until the window and door issues are resolved.

mybeach

              The water we are “dead in”, still warm enough to swim 😉

Yesterday we had a surprise visit from Belize International Bank, who is financing the house build. They were quite impressed with the house so far, that is, until we got to the folding door and kitchen window. They were not very happy with whats going on there. The fact is, before we can accept the house as ours, and complete payments Atlantic Bank must do a “Final Approval” of the finished project, and it must be according to approved plan.

On that note, I will say that even though we could have waited a bit to start the build, and not financed the project with the bank, its a great advantage. All along the way during the build, Atlantic International Bank, has done inspections of the house before releasing funds. This is a check and balance on the builder, to see if what your builder says he;s doing, and asking for funds, has actually been done.They literally send a bank approved Architect down from Belize City to inspect the house.

As so many projects go wrong here in Belize, and many private home builds will see multiple builders before completion, this could really be in your favor, and you might look into it. The fact is, to the best of my knowledge, Atlantic International Bank is the only bank that will give you a construction loan, once you own your building lot.

So, Kevin my builder said the equipment and crew would be here to finish leveling our lot today, so that the rest of the issues that can be worked on could be completed. And that’s where I will start off my next blog post.

Remember and heed my words, if you can be here during the building process, you will experience two things, hair loss and accomplishment. The first from pulling it out when occasionally frustrated, and accomplishment when things finally get done, correctly.

Cheers and Happy New Year !

The Pirate….Gary

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Building our new house in Belize, the Good, Bad and yes Horrible that can happen.

When he said we would be moving in for the Christmas Holidays, we forgot to ask what year ?

So it’s December 16th and my wife Marsha arrives on her one way ticket to Placencia, Belize to start our new retirement life here. When we first started this building process, we said our “target date” to be in and living in our new house in Maya Beach, Belize, was the Christmas Holidays. Kevin our builder back then in November of 2016 told us that wasn’t going to be a problem and we would be in by then.

marsha and boys

Marsha at Portland Airport being  put on plane by a ex-co-worker and her cousin.

Newsflash! Nothing and I mean nothing is ever “on-time” in Belize, especially when it comes to construction and building your house! Like they say..”shit happens”, mainly delays from suppliers and distributers, purchasing/ordering conflicts, house design flaws and my biggest complaint to date, the wrong supplies being delivered and installed.

And then there is “equipment failure”, like Kevins Bobcat. It’s awesome that he has his own and doesn’t rely on renting or sub-contracting some to do site work. But like anything else, things break. I lived with about ten loads of lagoon sand all over the property, waiting to be graded out, for two weeks. Then the glorious day arrived, the bobcat I mean. Of course, three quarters of the way thru the grading, the bobcat broke down and was taken away for repairs. That was over a week ago,

dirt

Piles of lagoon sand waiting to be leveled

My last blog post almost two weeks ago I told you how the large folding glass doors, and large kitchen folding windows were installed, and we discovered neither were what we had ordered, and paid for. We aren’t talking a few hundred dollars, but many thousands of dollars for top of the line Cat 5 glass. For over two weeks I have been asking Kevin my builder for updates on when these installers from Guatemala Glass are coming back to replace these. Each time he has told me they don’t return his calls?

door

The incorrect “open in” doors

Last week I sent the “main guy” from this door and window distributor, telling him I needed him to rectify this situation. I have not heard back from him either. My main issue with these doors/windows, is I can’t secure the house, because nothing locks! Plus the fact that they open in instead of out!

cabinets

Our cabinets “in process” at woodworkers in Hopkins. Belize

When their cabinets and finished and installed, he will move on to ours. On a good note, Marsha will be on-site to inspect every cabinet to be sure they are all exactly what she designed.

If you remember, the one sliding glass door built by Peters Glass, and installed in the bedroom to deck, was very sticky and difficult to open and close. I happened to run into the installers last week in the village, and asked them to take a look at it. They came to the site that afternoon and spent two hours working on it.

It works perfectly now.

Did I tell you what a smart decision it was to purchase the Pirates Cabana and place it on our lot last year? Not only have I been able to live in it all year and keep an eye on my construction.

mybeach

Luckily we have a Cabana to live in, and this is our “front yard”

And now, Marsha and I can live in our cabana until our new house is actually completed, which instead of December 2017, will probably be more like Feb 2018.

Now as I try to keep composed, I will say, some things just naturally work out, and this build is one of those. Our fully packed ocean shipping container, sitting at the docks in Portland Oregon, will probably not arrive until February 2018, probably when we are finally ready to move in.

container

All our stuff is in that container, to hit the ocean and arrive in February.

Ending on a pleasant note, the outdoor shower is really looking fantastic. Kevins choices of material and construction is spot on, and we are both thrilled with it.

shower

Stonework in outdoor shower.

After a whole year on-site during construction of our new house here in Belize, I can give you the following advice.

Nothing is ever done on time here in Belize, so never plan on a specific date for anything.

Services and deliveries are almost always never on time, so take a daly “chill pill”, because you will need it.

Be here during the entire construction faze of your new home. Review your house plans every day and physically inspect your building progress every day. Question everything and make sure you get clarification when needed.

Don’t assume that the workers building your house know what they are doing, because as I know for a fact, there are operations in construction of your house, that they probably have never done before. Make sure you check with them and your contractor o be sure he has experienced workers, and r has given them instructions, or showed them the process.

The guys building your home are not architects, and quite possibly, have no idea what things on your drawings mean. That is up to your builder to be sure they understand what is to be done. Question everything.

Make sure you go into heavy detail with cabinet maker including actual pictures of what you want.

Never pay anything or anyone “in full” until the project / item is complete, and you are totally happy with it.

Give yourself a few extra months for completion of your new house, so you can relax and enjoy the ride, with flex-ability. Remember, when they say “next Tuesday”, have them clarify what month and maybe what year!

Just FYI, my construction workers just informed me they were told to shut down for the holidays…from December 20th until January 8th. So, my prediction of our house being completed and ready to move into was correct, February or maybe March.

Cheers and happy holidays,

The Pirate…Gary

 

 

 

 

 

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Follow my blog posts on the building of our new home here in Belize, Central America.

via Building our new home in Belize..the Good. Bad and yes.. Ugly!

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Building our new home in Belize..the Good. Bad and yes.. Ugly!

The excitement of my last post about large folding glass door and folding kitchen window, has changed to…yes…the bad and possibly ugly!

In the last blog post you probably felt my relief and pleasure at finally having the specialty folding glass door from living room to deck, and over the kitchen sink to cook center arriving and ready to install. Keep in mind that these were special ordered from a supplier in Guatemala, who kept promising over a month every week to be installing them. That feeling of joy only lasted a couple of days until I learned that they were both completely wrong!

plan

Please note that drawings show clearly, both the folding doors and window opening outward.

As you can see by the official architect drawings, done by my Architect Tracy, the large glass folding doors needed to fold outwards onto the deck. The single door in them needed to be on the right, or kitchen side. The way it was installed it is opposite, and when open blocks entry to bedroom.

kitwin

Kind of dark, but hey, no electric of lights 🙂 Shows large tree panel windows opening inward over sink area.

The kitchen window was to actually be six (6) small panel windows, also folding outward, so as not to interfere with sink and faucet as per architectural drawings. As you can see, they instead installed a folding glass window, which folds instead, three (3) large windows inward.

My cabinet maker Conrad was the first to notice and raise the “oh crap” flag, telling me it would interfere with the sink and faucet install. This was immediately followed up by my Architect, Tracy Atkinson, telling me and my builder Kevin that both the large window and door were “un-acceptable” and needed to be corrected.

singledoor

The single opening glass door in the large folding glass door, as you can see, blocks the entry to bedroom.

Bringing this issue to the attention of my builder Kevin, he came out to the building site to look over the window/door situation with me. The first thing he said was that the installer had told him the large glass folding door would be installed with single door to the right.I questioned whether the installer had actually installed it backwards, with possibly a semi-easy fix. Kevin also acknowledged that the kitchen folding window was ordered as a “six-panel” folding window, folding outward, not three large windows folding inward.wholedoor

              As you can see, the whole folding glass door folds inwards.

Of course, you know in every story, there is always “one more thing”. If this wasn’t bad enough, the sliding door for the bedroom to deck had also finally arrived, after a month of waiting. My lead guy on site installed the sliding door, of which I was thrilled to have happen. Marsha and I had gone back and forth on either a French door or sider, and finally went to look at sliders installed in another of Kevins house builds. The owners were thrilled with their sliders from Peter’s Glass in Spanish Lookout, and testing them we were very impressed.

slider

This is what I call now, our “workout sliding door” because its quite the workout opening or closing.

So when Rigo had completed the install, he called me from the Cabana and said he had something to show me. I’m thinking a beautiful sliding glass door, right? Silly me!

He called me up to the bedroom to show me you needed two hands to open or close the door! It felt like it was rubbing on itself or something. I told him I would have Kevin take a look at it. So, after having Kevin look at the two other issues, I introduced him to a third, which he said he would look into.

So, two entirely different glass companies, both offering what I would say are major problems, with very costly items, have caused my grief, and I’m sure you would too.

wtf

That very day Kevin copied me on the email he sent to the door company in Guatemala, in which he explained everything, that both system was installed inwards and was supposed to open outward. Also the kitchen folding window was ordered as six small not three large windows. He also mentioned something else I pointed out, there is no lock on the kitchen window so anyone can open it from the outside by turning handle, as well as no keys for living room door lock.

He also included a copy of the Architect drawing that he had originally sent them when he ordered the two units. He also stated these both need attention right away.

They said they would send someone out today (Sunday), and it’s 11 AM, nobody yet ! Will give update in next post.

pocket

                One of three pocket doors, this one is to the bedroom.

I want to end on a good note here, with the install of our “pocket door’s yesterday. For those that do’t know, pocket doors don’t swing open, but instead slide to the side in a “pocket” in the wall,They are really a space savor, and offer more open wall space. I will also say that I am really impressed with these solid wood doors and paneling.

As I have said before, selecting you builder in Belize, as quite honestly anywhere in the world is and should be a hard decision. Builders are at the mercy of their workers and suppliers. What makes things so much more difficult here in belize, is language barriers, supply and demand, and finding reliable and quality workers. Many of the construction precesses on our home, are being done for the first time for some of my workers. There are processes in construction that have to be shown and taught to the workers by Kevin before they can proceed.

All in all, I am very happy with the construction of our home here in Belize. However, like I have said before, again and again, suppliers are on their own time, may not understand what is asked for, or possibly just build wrong. It’s really up to you if and when you decide to build a house here in belize, do you need to be here to oversee the building of you home?

I’m glad I decided to.

Looking forward to updating you all with major improvements and satisfaction on our next  meeting. Until then, remember, it’s been tough being here throughout this entire building process, but I’m ever so happy I have been here for issues like these.

Cheers,

Gary …the Pirate

 

 

 

 

 

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