Building our new home in Belize, the Good, Bad and yes Horrible that happens

“The massive folding door and kitchen window will be here from Guatemala Tuesday !”

                                 What you always need to ask is “What Tuesday”!

 

So, over the past week or so, things have gone from “not so great”  to ” Ok, it’s possible that we can actually be living in our new home, by the holidays, or soon after”!

door1

And the frame and panels for the massive folding door between great room and deck finally arrives.

About three weeks ago, my builder Keven started telling me that the large folding doors to the deck and large folding kitchen window to deck, would arrive “Tuesday”. Two weeks ago he also told me that he was told by the company that the windows were being delivered to the Guatemalan border, on Saturday. After almost a month of bullshit, a beautiful white truck, with delivery guys in company uniforms, arrived this Monday, with both folding windows. I am no longer relieving my cranium of hair, or turning remaining hair pure white. I thought for sure they would be installing them as this was in the morning.

door2

Good news, the frame fits !

 

Right! Like that’s going to happen! They inform Kevin and I that the “installation guys” will return on Thursday, to install the door and window.

window

 Wow! The frame for folding kitchen window fits too 😉 That’s my builder Kevin Brodsky there, checking the fit.

 

As I bang on the keys, I realize, I never asked what Thursday! Fu#k!

 

Other things have been happening this past week or two, including the installation of the water system under the house. This is a small storage tank, pressure tank and pump, and purification system, as well as the two air conditioning units.

water:air

Water tank,pressure tank and pump installed, and 2 air conditioning units installed.

In the other area designated as the “outside laundry”, the plumber installed the instant gas hot water system and all associated valves and lines for washer and dryer.

heater

Instant hot water system and water filter installed.

Marsha and I are introducing Belize to a new kind of “wire” for use on decks in place of wood slats. Its called “Finished-line-fencing”, and is like wire pasture fencing, but without metal wire. It’s a plastic/poly white line that has a mega stretching capacity, can take a tree or 3000 lb. horse putting pressure on it. I installed this in Oregon, the only place to get it, as replacement for all my New Zealand horse fencing. It doesn’t change color, won’t rot or break, and is safe if you fall against it. And it looks great! We are using this on our front and back stairs and decks.

fence1

Our special “plastic wire” fencing on front deck.

Conrad our custom woodworker is busy creating all our cabinets, counters and doors for the house. He came last week and installed the double doors on our concrete “security room” under the house.

fence2

Custom special white plastic wire installed in railings on back deck.

And then there is the outdoor shower. The privacy walls are built and installed, and the inside shower area is being covered with pieces of beautiful stone. The floor of the shower, has been  painstakingly  covered, one stone at a time.

showerwall

Walls going up around outdoor shower.

 

So as things move ahead, and I have been here almost a full year watching everything about the building of our new home, some things about building here in Belize, are clear to me.

You definitely need to be here watching, to make changes when necessary, and to avoid issues later down the road. The Belize worker in general, moves at his own pace, and if you get frustrated easily by delays, building a new house here may just kill you!

Many businesses, sub contractors and specialty suppliers (carpenters, furniture and cabinet builders, appliance and electrical suppliers, etc.) do not perform or build things for you, “on credit” for your builder. Most businesses and services here in Belize, at least on mainland Belize, have been burned in the past by homes, businesses and developments failing. They lost plenty of money when investors, builders, contractors and owners boogied from Belize, leaving them holding the bag (of bills).

I recently read an article here in Belize about Atlantic Bank International, who loaned millions on three homes being built in a development up Sittee River way, that failed. The bank has these three houses in foreclosure, and just can’t sell them.

If you are coming here to buy land and build a house, bring lots of cash, or hit a bank, because you’re going to need lots of money, and patience.

That being said, I truly believe its all worth it.

Cheers all,

 

The Pirate…Gary

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Building our New Home in Belize..the Good, Bad and yes, Ugly that can and does happen.

I never knew that we were planning on having the pool on the deck?

pool100

Hey look! I didn’t realize we had a lap pool on the deck ?

So much has happened in the past week, so where do I start? Oh yes, where I left off of course, the water storage tank. You see, our new house is being built in Maya Beach, and our water comes from the Placencia Hotel / Resort up the road a mile or so. It’s awesome water, drinkable, but for some unknown reason, it’s shut off every evening at 4PM and turned back on at 4 AM every day. Because of this, we need to install a small water storage tank and pump with enough water to last a day or so, just in case. After all, how an i going to make ice cubes for my rum at night without water?

laundry

Under the house, on right, the 2 area’s.

 

So we have two separated concrete floored area’s under the house, one for an outdoor washer/dryer, and the larger one for air conditioning units, whole house generator and water storage tank and pump. It’s on the house plans, our builder is aware of this, so we are good right?

I look out one day and see the guys carrying the large white plastic water tank and placing it in the area I thought it was going. I realize that the two large air conditioning units are also in there, on the concrete floor. So, I head down to talk to the site foreman Rigo, and he says the plan is to put either the tank or generator on the other side of the concrete wall, where Marsha’s washer/dryer is supposed to go.

h2otank

Ooops!

So the conversation arrises with my builder Keven, who says he thought the laundry room was upstairs in the house. I had this discussion with him months ago when they were preparing to pour the concrete floor upstairs for the main floor, remember? They hadn’t run lines, drains and pipes through the flooring for the upstairs laundry room, and I caught it before they poured the concrete flooring the next day? Back then he told me he thought the laundry was going in down under the house, and I reminded him, we were having two laundry areas, one in house, one under house for guests in Cabana.

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Upper right hand corner is the “upper level” laundry.

So, here’s another instance where it was paramount that I am here during the building of the house here in Belize. We would have shown up in a month and found Marsha’s under the house laundry, no more! Don’t ever mess with a wife’s laundry room, or house plans!

I also have to say, as I did in last post, having a good builder means he is very busy, on multiple building sites, and I’m sure its difficult to keep up on everything.

That is my purpose in life right now.

On good notes, all the beautiful flooring is laid on the inside, the decks and the stairs both front and back.

tile

All floor tile installed, inside house, deck and front and back stairs.

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And then there are the windows and doors, and my initial statement of a “swimming pool”?

 

All of our windows and doors are custom made, in different places. The double front entry doors and double security doors in downstairs concrete room are being built by a woodworker named Conrad in Hopkins. The giant folding doors going out to the deck, and the massive folding window between kitchen and deck area are coming from Guatemala. All the other windows are being made in Spanish Lookout at Peters’s Glass. Peters Glass delivered the windows almost a month ago, all that is except three very important ones, for the bedroom.

caulk.JPG

No…not my house, not my guys work 😉

We are almost past what they refer to as the “rainy season” here in Belize. What that means is two months when massive rain blown by heavy winds, blows sideways off the sea. Our new house is right on the sea, and my deck during the past couple weeks has been often a swimming pool. More importantly, the openings for the bedroom windows, provided access to the newly tiled floors, that were continually puddled.. I will say that luck was with us, and the water never reached the wood siding or sheetrock, which was my concern.

windows

              Here is waterfront bedroom, note one window in, three missing?

Yesterday, the final three windows were delivered and installed.

Kevin my builder tells me the large folding window and door crossed the border this weekend and should be arriving soon.

Take note of this date, and everyone…place your bets!

bet

I will finish by saying again, I have an awesome crew of workers building our home. No matter what I bring up, about design flaws, confusion about certain placements and installs, they are doing an outstanding job building our home. They take pride in their work, smile at me all day, from 6 AM until 6 PM every day.

guys

My guys, loading wheel barrels of concrete and dumping for basement floor.

 

I have heard and seen nightmares from others about the builds of houses and communities. Many houses go thru multiple builders just to complete these builds, that is, if they in fact are completed.

All I can say is I am thankful to be able to be here during the entire building of our new home, from buying the lot, to move in day.

The hardest part is being separated from my wife Marsha for a entire year. It is truly a test of love and trust.

gm

One more month and I hope to be singing at the top of my lungs, hand and hand with her, on our new deck, overlooking the awesome Caribbean waters.

 

Cheers all,

 

Gary….the Pirate

 

 

 

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Building our New Home in Belize, the Good, Bad and yes Ugly !

A lot happening all at once, AC Units installed (no electricity yet), steel laid under house for concrete, and “re-model” of new home going well 😉

window

We determined there was no way a standard range would fit under this window.

When I left of in the last post, we had discovered a planning / architectural issue with a window placement in the kitchen and the range placement. It was decided that in order to actually install any standard range in the only place available in the kitchen, the window had to go. So, out it goes, outside siding was removed and new staggered siding needed to be installed, so it didn’t look like we did what we did.

nowindow

The window is removed, ready to re-do siding.

 

The kitchen wall inside is now inside framed, so we can run electricity to the area above the range where the venting microwave will be installed. Now, this actually is an improvement over the original plans, where the only way we could “vent” the range was by opening the window. Now if anyone in this household, meaning Marsha and myself, ever burned anything in or on the range, we would vent out the window. right? Wrong! We live on the Caribbean, and I mean right on it! The majority of time the wind will be blowing in, not out! That means the smoke would be blown into the house, not out.

windowgone

Window removed, new siding installed to cover hole.

Helpful advice if building a new house in Belize or anywhere actually. Double check all measurements on your architectural drawings, and match them against appliances, furniture, cabinets, counter heights, window heights, and everything else. Being “on-site” during construction is key to your success. Remember the shower head ? If I didn’t notice, the roofline would have dropped a foot, and I would have hit my head on the shower head.

windowdordedin

Inside ready to install electric box for microwave, vent to outside and the sheetrock.

In fact, almost every day, the on-site crew comes to me with questions on how I think different things should be done or installed. If I wasn’t here, they would just “wing it” and I would find probably find out the error of their ways.

So, moving on, I was happy, and I just know Marsha is thrilled that the Air Conditioning guys showed up and started installing the A.C. blower units upstairs in the great room and bedroom. Next, they worked on installing the actual main units down under the house where the whole house generator and water pressure tank are to be installed.

ac

Air conditioning fan unit installed.

And then I woke up this morning, and watched as the guys were laying the steel fencing on the ground under the house before pouring the concrete floor tomorrow. Suddenly I had a flashback to the afternoon before the main floor was to be poured with concrete. Remember that? I realized that none of the plumbing pipes or gas lines were installed from below up through the soon to be cement floor to the laundry room. This was a pretty big “oops” then, and I felt another “oops” moment coming again.

acdown

Installing main AC Units. WTF? How is the water and electric lines getting un after they pour concrete floor?

I asked my site foreman, Riggo, if the poured the entire concrete floor  under the house, how were the water, power and cable lines running underground, going to get under the house to hook up later? Yep! Another “”oops” moment! He said he would discuss with the plumber and electrician when they got there.

Now understand that I have a “little” experience with plumbing and electrical installation, being I maintained our 25 acre ranch in Oregon, with three pump houses, and miles of underground electrical and water lines.. So I suggest drilling holes thru the forms set up to hole the concrete in place, near where the tanks, pumps and electrical needed to come in. Then they could run plastic conduit lines thru the holes from outside, under where the concrete would be, and up to above floor level, for connecting later.

plumbingdone

Utility problem solved !Conduit installed for underground utilities, under where concrete will be poured.

So let it be suggested, and let it be done!

So, tomorrow they tell me the concrete truck will arrive and pour the floor. The Plumbing lines should be installed completely under the house, so we bypassed that issue. The custom double entry doors and underneath security room doors should be arriving by next week. All the house windows have been installed, except the three windows they forgot to make and deliver. Not quite sure when we will see them.

floor

All inside floor tiles installed.

The floor tiles have all been installed inside the house. Next the floor of the outside deck and front porch deck will be “floated” to even them, and tiles continued installation on them and the stairs.

One thing I will say, choosing a builder that has a good reputation, a lot of experience and you can get along with is key to your success. The down side to that, is especially here in Belize, he is the only one that actually know what he is doing, and communicating that to his Belize workers at times is difficult. Add to that the fact that contractors like Keven, are very busy, on multiple job sites, and can at time get shall we say, “confused”? They do have a lot on their plate. So, it’s you job, yes your job, to stay on top of things, every day.

Stay tuned to my next blog post, where I will discuss this a bit more, and it has to do with this picture.

h2otank

Everything seems to be coming together, and my foreman said they were told to get on track to being finished before the Christmas holidays.

Let’s see how that goes for us !

Cheers all,

Gary…the Pirate

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Building Your New Home In Belize, the Good, Bad and yes, sometimes Ugly!

Great progress on new home, and first “re-model” project already “

house

           Nights are so very beautiful overlooking the Caribbean Sea.

As we rush to the end of the year, and “maybe” a completion date and occupancy by Christmas Holidays, things are moving alone well. Most of the walls are sheet rocked, with exception of where final plumbing and electrical need to be finished.

sheetrock

                         Sheet rock up on almost all walls.

The floor tiles are just about completely installed in the main house. This required many extra work and days, because the concrete floor was so uneven. I have to say that my site foreman, Rigo and his crew did an awesome job on this, taking his time to perform this task with precision and accuracy. I am quite impressed.

floor

      All inside floors have the ceramic tiles installed.

Next the tiles will be installed on front and back concrete stairs, as well as the entire oceanfront deck. Rigo will be “floating” the deck with a leveling agent before laying the tiles, which should make it easier and quicker.

Our house design utilizes every square inch of space, and to do that we have no doors that swing open. The entry to the Laundry/Pantry as well the doorway to master bedroom closet, both incorporate barn door style sliding doors. “Pocket doors” will be utilized for entry to bathroom from living room, to bathroom from bedroom, and from great room to bedroom.

pocket

                 Ready for the “sliding pocket door”.

I found out this morning that the air conditioning units will be installed in living room and bedroom early next week. As the custom front doors, as well as remaining windows and folding doors should be installed in next two weeks, I assume we will run AC via generator 😉

ac

Heavy wires at top for installing AC Unit above our giant screen TV 😉

Under the house, the preparation has been done for the cement truck to arrive and pour the floor.  This is exciting, as we are already talking about building in a enclosed garage under the right side of house.

under

             All prepped and ready for cement truck and new floor.

 

And then there is our first “remodel”!

redic

Marsha had commented on her last visit a couple weeks ago, that the windows in the kitchen appeared low. Our  Tracy was here right after that and we looked at the large window opening over the sink looking out at deck. Although it does appear low, it is to spec. However, we didn’t really look at side windows over counter, and specifically the range.

gas

Under that 1st window is the gas line for the range. Little low…ya think?

Then one morning Kevin my builder asked me to check out the height of the bottom window sill, and how it would work with the height of the range we had ordered. I immediately got the specs. for the range from Marsha, and with tape measure in hand, measured from the floor to where the top of the stove back would be. To my disappointment,  the back of the range would be approximately eight inches above window sill, blocking the window.

gas closw

     Hard to see but this is window, see floor ?

Now keep in mind, we ordered a standard size and configured stove, with the raised area at rear with all the controls in it, not any “special order”. Marsha then checked with the Belize City store, Benny’s, where our builder sent up to shop appliances, for other options. She found that all the stoves were configured like this that would match the other appliances we ordered. She looked outside of Benny’s, to see if we could perhaps order a stove with controls on front, and not so tall. Yes, she found one, which would cost us an additional $1000, and nor really match.

 

Therefore, we made the decision and told the crew and Kevin, that we needed a “re-model”. They will be removing the new window, adding 2×6 fillers, sheet rocking the opening, removing all the involved wood siding, and installing all new siding where the window was.

I will say, somethings happen for good reasons. We were trying to figure out how the existing stove would vent thru the open window, especially if wind was blowing in from the sea? We are now re-figuring the location of the microwave, and model, to a “over the range, venting model”. This will now be installed above the range, and vented outside.

 

slidingdoor

We will be using natural custom cut doors like this in multiple places of the house.

 

So, my advice to all readers, pay attention to details, and your wives concerns. Another thing I would suggest is be sure when you plan your house, especially the kitchen, be specific with appliance spec’s, in regards to windows, electric outlets, etc. In our case, although the house designs are good, there was no side view with measurements in the plans, that we could have referred to when purchasing our appliances.

If it’s going to happen, it will, so just go with it, make it work for you, because after all, its your home being built, and you will have to live with it.

Happy weekend all, and until we meet again in my next blog post, enjoy your life to the fullest, because you only have one.

Cheers,

 

Gary…The Pirate

boat100

Coming to our new pier, being built in front of our new home 😉 Like the name?

 

 

 

 

 

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Building your new home in Belize, the Good, Bad and yes, Ugly.

Source: Building your new home in Belize, the Good, Bad and yes, Ugly.

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Building your new home in Belize, the Good, Bad and yes sometimes Horrible.

           Back after visiting my wife in U.S. for a week, oh boy!

m

Ya..that’s right, we took time to hit the coast, “get a room” and sip some awesome wine 🙂

So, off I went on the big bird back to Oregon to visit family, wife, and assist her in the mega project of re-packing things for the ocean shipping container, sorting things to sell, and so much more, in 10 days!

 

I knew that while I was gone the crew would be installing the floor tiles that arrived just before I left (or so I thought)? Also, builder told me the windows would be delivered and installed while I was gone, two major projects, neither of which “fully” happened while I was gone.

trk

Here comes the truck with six palates of floor tile. Two guys unloaded by hand, in 90 degrees!

I was excited to return and see all this progress, and as things go in home construction, and especially here in Belize, not surprised with progress. The first thing I noticed were the awesome looking tinted windows installed in the cutouts of the house. They really looked great, that is, the ones that arrived and were installed. It seems as I learned, that they “forgot” four of the windows, due sometime this week, maybe.

woodfloor1

Nine hours work.

The next surprise was the beautiful floor tiles we had chosen, and were all delivered pre-leaving. You might say I was puzzled when I found only two rows installed in the great room. When I asked the installer why it was going to slow, he replied because they had not “level floated” the concrete floor before laying tiles, and had to “level” with thin set mortar. He told me doing it this way would take a lot longer than leveling entire floor with a “self-leveling” mix then laying tiles.

I asked my builder about this because as you would imagine, I was concerned with how the floor would turn out. Through experience, I know that un-even tiles will crack, but when I got the response from my builder, I realized that he is the expert, and knows how things work in this environment.

bs

I’m not saying I’m calling it, but ?????

He told me that leveling material doesn’t really hold well with concrete, thin set and tiles. Therefore they just use more thin-set to level floor.  So, I guess I will see how it looks in a year, right?

floor2

Four days work ?

Note: I have been home four days and this is how much flooring tiles have been installed, with installers working 10 hours per day. Looks like a fun job.

Moving on to brighter things, there’s the outdoor shower / spa unit with it’s 24 inch flat rain shower head. So the plumber shows up and asks me if I have all the valves and parts for the outdoor shower, and six side jets!

shower

Shower valves and controls installed on wall of outdoor shower.

I get the boxes and bags of parts Marsha brought down last time and hand it to him. As he spread all the parts out on a piece of plywood, i watched his expression change from, what is all this crap, to what do I do with all this crap. I then proceed to give him a one sheet direction that’s in Chinese, because that’s where it came from.

Note to all: Don’t buy anything directly from China, even if it’s a great deal!

The directions were not for this particular shower unit.

I managed by the next day to have the correct install directions from China! It took a few hours, but everything except shower head is installed. That comes down in the first shipment.

scaf

Pretty scary walking on these  rickety  scaffolding 20 feet in the air!

Last I can say with total glee, that all the rickety and made scaffolding has been taken down. Rigo, my site foreman told me that it was all rotting and the guys were getting nervous walking on it some 20 feet in the air. Surprise?

bt

Installing Center Console, electronics, hard T-Top next !

I leave you with one thought, when this is completely built and in the water, I have high hopes it will be docked at my pier off my beach.

Cheers all,

Gary…the Pirate

fish

Bone fishing on Ranguana Island, Belize, Central America, where I live 😉

 

 

 

 

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The Building of our New Home in Belize, the Good, Bad and yes, sometimes Ugly.

It truly is beginning to look like a finished house !

 

stained fooring

Hardwood siding stained and ready to go up on outside.

The tongue and groove hardwood siding is now completely up on the entire house. Before they put the siding up they did a first coat of stain.  After the wood was installed, the guys painstakingly went over every inch of every board, sanding off rough spots. They then went over every inch of every board a 2nd time, with filler and plugged any imperfection, which was then sanded smoothly to prepare for the next coat of stain.

stained outdoorroom

 

The guys then did a very detailed 2nd coating of white paint on the upper board under roof, getting ready for gutter installation.

ceiling

Ceiling received a 2nd coat of white paint.

Meanwhile the guys are finishing applying the final layer of cement to the entire concrete understructure, in preparation for the white painting to follow. Let me tell you, this has been some kind pf process! They went over all concrete structures chipping it with a hatchet, so there was somewhere for the concrete they “splatter” on to stick to. Its actually an art watching them do this, like a famous painter and his masterpiece.

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Finishing off bottom of posts.

All the electric wiring,  boxes and plumbing have been installed in the walls, and I finished installing the low voltage wiring for all my security cameras. This was finished in preparation of the wall insulation and moisture guard sheetrock arrival and install.

 

The waterfront deck is getting some final things done to it, like finishing off the bases of the 6×6 posts with designer boxes, and work on the wall where my outdoor cook center will be.

barb

Wall going up for countertop of cook center. Electric, water and gas line in.

Inside, the painter works away putting on a final coat of white paint on ceiling. This is really delicate work, and he did such a great job, not getting any on the stained hardwood beams.

Yesterday morning the sun was shining as the crew arrived at 6 AM, and immediately a couple guys started applying the 2nd coat of stain to the outside hardwood siding. WOW! Does it ever look good!

insulation

OMG! Insulation up!

 

And then in the afternoon I hear the air brakes, and sound of a massive truck backing into my driveway. Under the tarps, all the wall insulation and moisture guard sheetrock and “mud buckets” for the inside walls. I watched as the three delivery guys unloaded the entire supply themselves, and carried it to the under house storage room, in 90 degree heat.

sheet

OMG Big Time! Sheetrock going up!

This morning bright and early there are the guys, carrying the insulation and sheetrock upstairs for installation. In no time at all I see insulation going up in the inside walls of the kitchen. I just can’t contain myself, and sprint out of the Pirates Cabana up the front stairs. And there it is, insulation up and the guys cutting the first piece of sheetrock for install.

2nd coat

2nd coat of stain looking really great!

When I check back an hour later, sheetrock is up in kitchen and laundry room.

Did I say not only are these guys good at what they do, they are frickin quick!

And lastly, I know that everyone was all wrapped up in the “Big Event”, and I just wanted you all to know that the Pirate caught a glimpse of it on his beach !

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Until next time, May the wind always be at yer back, yer sails full and your lips continually passed by Rum!

Cheers All,

 

Gary ….The Pirate

 

PS-For those that don’t know, we are having a boat custom made for us here in Belize, a 26b foot Panga. Hull is done and paint done. Waiting for hardtop, electronics, motor, etc. They brought it from shop inside of boat motel in case the hurricane did hit us 😉

bta

 

 

 

 

 

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