- Building your new home in Belize, the Good, Bad and yes Ugly that can and will happen.
- Building your new home in Belize, the Good, Bad and yes Ugly that can and will happen.
- Building your new house in Belize, the Good, Bad and Ugly that does happen.
- Building our new house in Belize, the “Good, Bad and yes Ugly that happens”
- Building your new house in Belize, Central America, the Good, Bad and Ugly that can and does happen.
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The view from our dream home on the Caribbean
I have a pretty darn good following with this blog, and almost every week I am contacted by someone telling me they have been following me here and or on Facebook. In most cases they are either planning a trip here to Belize, or already here and want to get together. And, almost all of them have either bought a building lot, or in the process.
This could be your house on the sea too, well, not this one, it’s mine 😉
More often than not they tell me how much they have enjoyed reading it, how much they have learned, and how they want to avoid the “ugly” that I presented them. One of the most asked questions are about finding the right builder for their new houses. They have read my ordeal and in many cases actually talked to others already living here, or of course on the Belize Expat site.
One of the quality and honest builders here, actually building my neighbors home now.
I am thrilled to say that at this time, four of our new friends are in the process of building their new homes here in the greater Maya Beach area, and they are all using local Belizean Builders.
Construction started by Elsner and Mynor on our neighbors lot.
As my plan is to turn this entire blog into a book to be published by the end of the year, the subject of just how to find and choose your builder will need to be addressed. I have decided to start blogging about that exact detail, exposing you all to the builders I have found to be quality builders and contractors. Not only have I seen their work, visited the houses and businesses they built, but also have interviewed the expats who hired them. I will only be presenting you with builders that I personally trust, give you some background, publish photo’s of their work, and contact info.
Then its up to you.
If you have followed my blog, you are aware that we started out with what we thought was a qualified U.S. Builder. We met a handful of “builders” that were “approved” for building houses in what was then “Sanctuary Belize”, previously Sanctuary Bay and now the “Reserve”. As most of you know that “dream” soon became not a reality, and we broke ties with them and moved on to purchasing a lot not in a “development” here on the Placencia Peninsula. We had “be-friended” a “builder” from the Sanctuary deal, who was now working out of the Placencia area. We hired him believing it would be in our best interest to have a U.S. “builder” overseeing “his crew” building our new home.
Fast forward two years.
Our pretty much completed home in Maya Beach. Only remaining issue being fixed by Nelson is the replacement of large folding kitchen window with the correct one this time.We “ate” the cost of the incorrect one installed previously!
What we discovered before our house was completed enough to move in, was that he wasn’t a “builder”, but rather a “General Contractor”, who hired a Belizean Builder/Contractor to build our house. After multiple screwups, faulty systems and major products incorrectly ordered and installed wrong, we discovered the truth. Our builder from day one, was a local Belizean Builder / Contractor / Designer. Therefore, we separated from the original guy, and proceeded with our actual Belizean Builder, to contract and complete the building of our home.
I can tell you we are completely satisfied and happy with our Belizean Builder, Nelson Montalvo.
I will also tell you that only a few years ago, Marsha and I organized a “Builders Forum” here in Placencia, for over 250 U.S., Canadian and others from around the world. All of these people who traveled here to our multi-day event, were planning to build their homes in Southern Belize. Many are still in contact with me, as well as following my blog, and still planning on building here in Belize. All of them, as well as hundreds of others follow my blog after finding it somehow, and I am thrilled to give you all the insight into building here, that I wish I had available when I began.
So, appropriately I will be in this blog, starting with Nelson Montalvo and his company here on the peninsula. In upcoming blogs I plan to highlight the other excellent Belizean Builders here on the Placencia Peninsula. They are in no particular order, Margarito Ortiz, Martin Galvez, and Elsner Balona. These quality and honest builders are presently building homes for many of our friends.
The new home on lagoon byway in the CoCo Plum Residences south of Maya Beach being built by Nelson Montalvo and his crew.
Nelson went to school to become a builder / contractor, and unlike many of his friends, he went on to continue his education and become a Architect as well. To accomplish this he needed to leave Belize and attend school in Mexico. After completed he returned to Belize and started working as a contractor, in developments on the peninsula. About 12 years ago, he had built up enough equipment and fellow construction workers to start his own company. Most of his crew have been with him for the past 10 years or more.
The view of the canal the home views in Coco Plum.
Nelson and his crew have built the main building and homes in such well known locations as Roberts Grove, Naia Resort /CoCo Plum, and the new development, Itz’ana Belize Resort & Residences.
After building our home here in Maya Beach, Nelson and his crew started construction of the new office location in Coco Plum Residences, for Tradewinds Catamaran Charters. Before his company had even completed that build, he was already starting construction of our friends new home up the road on the canal in Coco Plum Residences, which includes a pool.
Last week Nelson started construction on another friends new house and three cabanas on the sea here in Maya Beach. It was excellent seeing that they looked at a few Belizean builder / contractors, and chose our builder Nelson.
Here is Nelson’s business card. You will note it is “tattered”. The reason is because I have taken it out of my wallet so many time to let people copy it, who wanted to contact him.
Nelson is in final stages of completing construction of his new shop and location for his heavy equipment in Seine Bight Village right down the road. Nelson is one of the few builders on the peninsula that owns most of his heavy construction equipment. This is one of the things that makes him and his company stand out from the rest.
It’s so nice to see all the U.S. and Canadian’s moving to Belize, and hiring Belize Builders to build their new homes. It’s just one more way to show the local Belizean that we are wanting to work with them, and help their economy. After all, we are investing in the local economy, not a “U.S. or Canadian wallet.
I will close on a super positive note, with a photo of my new “security system”” in training”,
Calypso, our 10 week old female Rottweiler who made the journey by air with Marsha a couple weeks ago from Oregon.
Happy roads, and may they all lead to the beach, and a full bottle of Rum!
Beginning of another day in paradise, what a way to start it ?
So things are in the final stages of finish here in Maya Beach at the Pirates Paradise, with as you can probably guess, hundreds (it feels like) little things to finish. Our builder Nelson Montalvo has been excellent in getting the remaining things done, that were supposed to be finished by the “other guy”, but were not. Actually as Nelson is very busy with his many projects and home construction projects. He referred us to two other excellent local Belize contractors that he had sub contracted for our build before.
Olivers new “Nasty Area” .
Our wall / fencing with Bayco Finish Line material is almost complete, and actually the south side of the house and back stairs area is completed, including our palapa over the rear entrance. This is most enjoyed by little Oliver, because he can now go out to his own personal area to his own version of “The Nasty”.
Marsha and I were so thrilled to learn that the 6 panel replacement window for the kitchen had finally arrived in Belize City at Benny’s, and would be delivered and installed soon. This was the last major thing that needed to be completed, replacing the incorrect, 3 panel inward folding window, we bought via the “other guy”. The few days later a Benny’s truck shows up at our house, without calling and scheduling ahead. We were pretty excited to finally have that nightmare over, and open the doors wide as they carried all the separate glass panels through the house and stacking on the outside deck. As they left they said Benny’s would be contacting us to take the incorrect window out, and installing these “correct” ones.
Looking pretty finished at the Pirates Paradise.
As the truck pulled down the road, Marsha asked me to get the tape measure, because the windows looked pretty long to her. WE measured them, and instead of being about 60 inches tall, the windows were actually 72 inches tall. Marsha quickly called Benny’s who contacted their truck driver who returned and retrieved the incorrect window.
Here we frickin go again, after they promised to replace the window with correct size, Benny’s “window specialist” calls and tells us they can “cut the hurricane class glass windows to size”. To make a long story short, after some coarse back and forth emails and phone calls about refund of funds for difference in cost, we got a full refund of what we had paid.
We immediately contacted our builder Nelson, and asked him to order the replacement 6 panel window from his supplier. You see, we trust Nelson Montalvo to contact the best not the cheapest supplier, and to finally get this done right. Outcome to follow in a couple months.
The sub-contractor’s spreading sone in 98 degree sun ! These guys are hard workers.
On a more enjoyable note, our sub-contractors installed the tile barriers and stone driveway and parking area’s, producing an almost finish look. Marsha then arranged to have some very different and exciting varieties of Palm trees in the front of the house.
Ahhhh..the little red beast in it’s parking area.
The inside of our new home is actually at a point where we can actually walk around without tripping over boxes, and I have to say, thank god for our massive concrete storage room under the house. This has saved us a lot of issues, and we are actually one by one going through the boxes filling that room. By the Christmas Holidays, we until we meet in the next post be done, I hope.
My design front door carvings, removable and replaceable with different carvings 😉
Another accomplishment on my part is my own designed double front door, and inserting removable wood carvings, to change whenever we want to.
And talking about Christmas, my new book to be published will probably be in print by then, so keep an eye out for, “Building your new house in Belize, Central America, the Good, Bad and yes Ugly that can and will happen”.
Cheers and until we meet again in the next post …Arrrr !
5:30 AM Marsha relaxes in her new office 😉
As we finally near the end of the journey building our new home, with repairs and fixes to earlier issues, we can almost see the light at end of tunnel. Of all the major issues encountered early on, the remaining major one that needs fixing, is replacement of kitchen folding windows. Great news, I just received an email yesterday, that the replacement correct window has arrived in Belize City, from Barbados. Yes, that’s right, Barbados. As soon as that correct one is replaced, Nelson our builder can have his guys build the under support and install granite counter outside the kitchen folding windows, almost a year later.
New lights installed in bathroom, finally I can shave and actually hit every hair ?
We have been living in our new house for a couple months now, without any light fixtures or lights, other than the lights in our installed ceiling fans.
Finally the shipping container arrives at Pirates Paradise
Finally after almost three months, our 20 foot shipping container arrived, and is now completely unloaded. Whet didn’t come up into the main house is filling our concrete storage room under the house. One of the first items out of the containers were all the light fixtures, for inside the house, and front and back decks. Yes, we now have lights.
My main concern inside the container, was my brand new Vision Ceramic “Egg” Grill / Smoker. I have been “barbecuing” on a Belize drum unit I had made for me, and trust me when I say, it was challenging. I have anxiously awaited the arrival of my Vision, and also my tabletop Traeger Smoker. They all arrived in perfect condition, and I have already started using them both. Yipppppeee !
My new “baby” arrives intact and ready to barbecue and smoke !
We are at a point where our Builder, Nelson Montalvo is ready to finish the last few things to complete our build, including the landscaping around the house, and repair the mess that was made of our beautiful beach.
Beginning the process of unloading our new life
The first thing that needed to happen was to sell and remove the shipping container, which we just accomplished yesterday.
Shipping container sold, and on its way out of here !
Stone borders will be installed to separate the stone driveway and walkways from the beach sand. Underground water and electricity for auto sprinklers and lights will follow. We had some larger palm trees of different variety planted before this work begins.
Our landscape company arrives with new palm trees
Our fancy iron gate which I showed you in the last post now has a wireless opener attached to it, and the Pyrate’s Paradise is now more secure.
New palms in front of house, looking pretty sweet !
So everything is coming together here in Belize, and Marsha and I are totally thrilled to be here in our new home. Even with the serious “bumps” in the road with our previous GM, we have been totally happy with our actual builder, Nelson, who actually has been on top of everything, and very professional. Like I have said for months now, if you are going to build in Belize, do yourself a favor, and choose a Belizean Builder, and get it done right the first time.
But more on that when my new book is released, “Building your new house in Belize, the Good, Bad and Ugly that can and will happen”, later this year.
And now it’s time for Marsha and I to fire up the Pyrate Queen and do some cruising on the Caribbean.
Building your new house in Belize, Central America, the Good, Bad and Ugly that can and does happen.
Four months after our “original general contractor” said our house would be finished, our new General Contractor / Builder / Home Designer is repairing and finishing our house. The “ugly” is finally getting “good”.
No matter what “bad or ugly” happens during your building in Belize, there is always some “Good” bringing you “back to center”.
We appear to be in the final home stretch with our new home build here in Belize, Central America. If you have been following my blog, you already know about the multiple things that were ordered incorrectly, installed incorrectly, or just not functioning when we moved in to our home.
Nelson Montalvo and his crew are one of the very best builders here in Belize. Nelson exceeds because he is also an Architect. Nelson also has a high quality crew that has worked for him for many years and all take pride in their workmanship. I have learned over the past few months that I made the mistake of many others, by not hiring from the beginning, a Belizean Builder with years of actual experience building homes here in Belize. Not only do they have experience, but also all the right contacts to get supplies and services. Also, choosing a Belizean Builder / Contractor / Home Designer, can save you ton’s of money, but more on that in “Chapter 1” of my upcoming new book.
Putting everything totally into the hands of our actual Contractor / Builder Nelson Montalvo, a local Belizean builder here in Maya Beach, and eliminating our original “general contractor” has been a blessing.
The guys “flipping” the large doors originally installed backwards, around to open correctly outward. Even though it cost us an extra $2000 to have Benny’s guys do this, it was worth it to get it right, finally.
Every week we correct and replace the faulty items, and in some cases upgrade to new which should have been installed originally. When we last talked about this, the large four panel folding doors between the great room and outside deck, were turned around so they finally opened outward like the architect had in the approved plans. That being said, this procedure tore up all around the outside of the door, and needed to be patched and re-finished.
Nelson Montalvo’s guys patching and finishing around the now correctly installed four panel folding door.
We had also located a glass company here in Belize (instead of Guatemala), who actually could order the correct six-panel Cat-5 folding window system for between kitchen sink and outdoor cook center, that folded outward. As you might remember, our original GC ordered the incorrect window, as only three panels, and not hurricane proof glass from Guatemala. After numerous attempts to contact this supplier without success, and of course, paying a large amount of funds, we had to order and pay a second time out of pocket, here locally, for the correct windows. The catch is it is taking three months to get them and have installed, and the “bad” is having to pay for the same expensive window, twice !
The incorrect three panel kitchen window that can’t be opened because it opens inward and would take out hanging lights and sink faucet !
Another issue is the “instant hot water system” which was not correctly ordered originally, and is not large enough for our house needs. We have been working with Nelsons plumber Freddie making adjustments to try to get continuous flow of hot water. It seems to be getting better, but if we can’t get to work consistently, we will have to buy a larger insta-hot gas system, and maybe a “name brand’ this time ?
“Instant hot water” ? really ?
On a good note, our decision to build a concrete single car garage under the house is working out wonderfully. Nelson Montalvo’s crew that he has working on it are done and we are only waiting for the “hurricane class” heavy duty metal garage door unit and it will be complete.
Large garage under house almost complete.
Wife Marsha is very happy to park “her new truck” inside. If you are planning on building in Belize near the sea, you might plan for this, especially if you will have new wheels. Parking outside you will find a coating of salt on everything metal, every morning unless covered or contained.
The new “Palapa Entry” from beach still has that “I just woke up hair style” 😉 Will settle down soon, we hope.
Finally, our 20 foot shipping container, that was supposed to arrive a couple months ago, is now slated to arrive next Wednesday. It was diverted to Jamaica after passing through the Panama Canal, instead of directly to Belize City, but don’t ask me why. Maybe they will stick some good dark Jamaica rum in it for us?
Once the crate arrives, and we un-pack it, we should be pretty close to finished with the building and moving into our new home here in Maya Beach, Belize. At that point I will be working on some “edits” to all my blog posts about building and moving to Belize, and transforming it into my third book about Belize.
“Building your new home in Belize, Central America, the Good, Bad and yes Ugly that can and will happen”.
Watch for it’s release later this year as an “e-Book” and hard copy on Amazon.com.
Till next time,
The journey is finally coming to an end, or so we thought ?
When I last posted we had moved into our new house on the beach here in Maya Beach, Belize. Many of the issues were resolved from our original “builder” / General Contractor, including reversing the large folding doors to the outside deck. We had ordered the new large folding kitchen window from a better source than was previously done, and this time not only will it be the correct window, but also “Cat 5 rated”, like the original was supposed to be. However, it will be another two months they say, until that one arrives and is installed but at least we will finally have the correct window.
Ac Unit looks pretty, is large, but not functional to todays standards or needs in hot climate.
There are some things that you cannot know is wrong with your house build in Belize, even if you are watching the builders install or build them, until of course, you move in and experience a problem. Our previous “general contractor” had ordered a large “Delta” air conditioning unit for the great room, and a smaller “Delta” for the bedroom. He had explained the larger one would be needed for the large room and high ceilings.
Units under house that probably will need replacing also.
Well, we are moved in and hot weather upon us. Our living room couch is sitting where it was planned to be, directly under the force of ice cold air from the AC Unit in the living room. You may think that is terrific, but it really isn’t. The fact is the AC unit installed is the “bottom of the line” “El Cheepo” AC unit, that has only one function, blow cold air straight down on the couch. The better units have many functions, including moisture removal, and especially, directional controls, so you can adjust where the air is blown. It’s the same damn thing in the bedroom.
So here we go again, having our “actual builder / contractor” ordering and replacing the bran new AC Units, with ones that should have been installed.
Why did this happen you might ask ? Because the AC Units fell into the “allowances” category with the previous “general contractor”, and he choose the cheep units.
Instant hot water gas system, “el cheepo”, not what was needed for our house.
So while I am on a roll, let me tell you about the propane system and especially the whole house “instant hot” water system. After moving in and finally having everything connected so we could actually test things out “real time”, we were excited to test our beautiful “outdoor shower” and “rain-shower head.”The only problem is the “instant hot water” system purchased by our original “general contractor”, is to small for out hot water system in our house, and in fact, is a relatively unknown brand. We are waiting about five minutes for hot water in the shower and kitchen sink, and then get about two minutes of hot water before it goes cold again.
When I asked my Builder / Contractor Nelson Montalvo about this problem, he informed me that the instant hot water system was provided by my “ex-general contractor”, and not the brand he is used to installing in his new homes.
Enough said, we are having the unit replaced with the correct one, that should have been installed in the first place.
New garage walled in, tow wood custom doors, and our glass blocks for lighting at rear
So now let’s talk good things, and the work that’s being done by my Builder / Contractor Nelson. The garage is almost completed below the house and we are thrilled. Nelsons woodworkers build two beautiful doors and installed glass blocks to bring in light from off the sea.
Showing glass block window and three foot dod wall.
His crew also finished building the three foot wall on the south side of the house and around seaside stairs, for security and dog’s area. All that’s left is installation of white Bayco line.
The dogs side area as well as three foot wall on south border, awaiting Bayco fencing.
Once the shipping container arrives next week and we get it emptied, Nelson and his crew will proceed to finish the landscaping, add beautiful clean sand on our beach, and Marsha can start planting exotic plants and trees, to finish our building project.
The beachfront entry, awaiting thatched roof.
It’s been a long road this past year and a half, especially when it was supposed to be completed back before the Christmas holiday 2017. I really don’t regret much of what we have done, other than making the major mistake of choosing my original “general contractor”, and not going with a local experienced Belizean Contractor, that had many years building in Belize, and had his own building crew. I’m not alone in this experience, as many have started out with a U.S. or Canadian “general contractor”, thinking they had their own experienced crew to build their dream home. The fact is, they don’t, in fact, they farm out for bid to local Belizean builders, and seek the lowest bidder to build your home, and still charge you the higher amount they quoted you.
New wood wall in front of whole whose generator for sound control and looks.
I actually know Expats on the Placencia Peninsula, who still think their homes were built by a “gringo builder” as they say here, and in fact, were built by my builder Nelson Montalvo.
Seaside stairs and top gate.
So I leave you with this thought, when you start interviewing your builders. When they show you homes “they built”, ask to see their employees, their crew that built it. Ask to see their sign’s, “This home built by …..”, ask to see who’s names on all the heavy equipment used to build those houses.
Find out who is actually building your house, and hire them, and save 20-30 % at least on the cost of building, because the houses here are built by Belizean Builder / Contractors, and that’s a fact. The fact is, my actual builder was and is Nelson Montalvo here in Maya Beach, and not only did he go to school to become a builder / contractor, he continued his school to get a degree in Architecture also.
If only only known this two years ago.
Finally getting everything completed on the house, and already starting some “remodels/additions”.
The pool and pool bar at ” The Placencia” just up the road from us.
After finally getting all power and water installed, plumbing finished up, and actually getting to move into the new house, everything is coming together. Also, addressing the folding kitchen window and mega folding glass door in living room which was a nightmare is getting fixed, thanks to us taking over as the “General Contractor”. Bennies window specialists cane and reversed big glass doors, and the new and correct 6 panel window for kitchen is ordered, and should be installed in a few weeks.
“The Guys” after they corrected the original error in the big folding glass door”
So as we try to get past the old “issues”, we decided to start some “upgrades” to the house. We decided to continue the 8 foot wood fence to the house, and then switch to a 3 foot cement wall that would wrap around the back of the house and beachfront stairs.
Needless to say, our Builder / Contractor Nelson Montalvo was excited to put a crew right on this for us. We love this guy and his crews, and the quality work they do.
The three foot wall which will have the white plastic Bayco in those holes 😉
The 5 foot columns will have above the 3 foot wall, an additional 2 feet of the white plastic wire fencing as added security. The purpose of the wall is to contain an area for the dogs, where they can “visit” unattended.
See how the fence transitions into the short wall.
The other major new addition is a concrete garage below the house. We have learned just how harsh the salt air is on anything metal, and especially vehicles. As we just spent el mucho cash-a-mundo on a new truck, longevity can be increased if parked enclosed in a garage.
Garage built in for Marsha’s new “baby”. There will be a gate to right to contain dogs.
Another fun part of the fencing which takes our “Pirate Theme” to the next level here at the Pirates Paradise, is our new metal gate in front. Martin Galvez, another excellent local Builder/Contractor had his metal fabricators design and build this awesome 16 foot gate.
Arrrrrr ! Enter at your own risk !
Please keep an eye on my blogs because soon I will start blogging “Builder / Contractor’s Spotlight Blogs”. I plan to do separate blogs on each of the four Belizean Builder/Contractors that I have found to be honest and quality builders. I will put my six years of research, as well as my personal experiences with all of them, along with references by owners, and photo’s of homes and resorts, that they and their employee’s actually built.
One of the featured “Builder Spotlight'” Belizean Designer / Builders built many buildings and homes here at the new exciting It’zana Resort and Residences here on the Placencia Peninsula.
Finally, next week, our shipping container is due arriving in Belize City, and being transported to our new house. After everything is unloaded and our home is in its final finished faze, I will be doing my final blog, a kind of sad event, with a happy ending.
The fun part at that point, is I will be editing, and adding a “blog remodel” which will answer the many questions of how and why things changed at the end of our build. This won’t be in this blog format, but rather the my next published book, my third in fact about Belize.
It will be named, “Building your new home in Belize, the Good, Bad and yes, Ugly that can and will happen”, and how to avoid it.
What a surprise, right? 😉
The Pirate …Gary…and his wench…Marsha 🙂