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Front and Back Cover of my new book, designed by Nada.
It’s very exciting being this close to publishing my 3rd book about life in Belize, Central America. This latest book with plans for the “book launch” end of this month is taking some interesting turns, but I am hopeful that It will still launch on time.
For the first time, I actually hired a super Graphic Designer to produce my book cover, both front, and back. I am so very pleased with Nada and will be giving her credit in the hardcover book.
As you might already know, this book enjoys the same name as this blog and is based on this blog’s posts. Of course, there will be a great deal of extra stuff in it, how to locate your best land and house deals here in Belize, contacts for just about everything, where to find stuff and more. As you might suspect, I am also including a chapter just on the builders I would suggest you contact, their history, references and contact info. That is probably the biggest plus or minus of your building experience. Most homes built here go thru at least a couple contractor builders to actually complete or repair your home.
One of my challenges is the conversion of all my WordPress blog posts with tons of photo’s to the correct format used in print books and eBooks. Regretfully, I am at the mercy of the companies I am using for these processes, as well as my editor and publisher.
However, I just wanted to give you all an update on the release, and let you know it is really coming soon, to bookstores in hard copy, Amazon in hardcore as well as an eBook.
Pyrates Paradise Paella on my Vision Grill, overlooking the Caribbean, for an evening with good friends.
As things come to an end here at Pyrates Paradise with our home build, I can honestly say I would do it all over again, knowing what I learned of course. Little things like finishing patches on outside walls, correcting some drainage issues we have discovered during heavy rains, and adding some additional electric boxes are some.
Paella finishing touches, chicken, sausage, shrimp and of course, spiny lobster.
Of the multiple design flaws we encountered, the un-needed kitchen window, the wrong height roofline over the outdoor shower, there was another major mistake. If you build a home in Belize, or anywhere that experiences major rains, make sure your home design, especially over your outdoor decks, includes an overhang.
Note the roofline isn’t extended over the deck. See added gutter installed underfloor edge.
The outside deck on our outdoor shower side isn’t covered by the roof, thus massive rain and water not contained and removed by the rooftop gutter system. We recently had to hire a contractor to install gutters on the outside edge of the floor to send runoff out to sea.
Another issue with the original “builder / general contractor” arose after we had to call for service on our air conditioning system. After three repair calls, where they found a fuse blown in the outside unit, the 4th call found a burned electrical panel in the AC unit.
The top unit is the original to bedroom AC unit. The bottom eco X is a new replacement unit.
I called our builder Nelson Montalvo who actually built our house about the issue. He informed us that the AC units originally installed, were purchased by our “original builder/general contractor” at a local store. I asked him if he had ever used this brand and he said no, they were a cheap brand, that he only used “Ecox” AC Units, and had never had a problem with them.
This is new great room AC unit, that is now programmable, and has direction adjustments.
He said he gets his units from one of the major stores in Belmopan, Aggregate Hardware, where we purchased our whole house Generac generator. We drove the 1.5 hours up to Belmopan and purchased the replacement AC unit and had it installed. It works more efficiently, more effectively, and has more useful features. Yes, we paid more for this one than the original, but we live in the Caribbean, and good AC comfort can be essential. If it is to you, it’s a major appliance you need to pay attention to.
This is the burned electrical unit in the original Delta AC unit. The repairman said the compressor overheated was a dangerous situation.
We are a couple weeks from the final project that needed to be corrected, the replacement of our large, 6-panel window in the kitchen. Along with that, the beautiful granite counter that has been laying on the deck for the past year gets installed under the window out on the deck. After more than a year, we will finally actually be able to open the kitchen window!
And for one of the final times I will say this. It is extremely important to choose the best builder in Belize, and I mean the Builder, not a “general contractor” to build your new home. Don’t be fooled by a smile and friendly handshake just because he is from Canada or the U.S. and speaks English. Chances are he can’t speak Spanish and does not communicate well with those building your house. Believe me, it will be a Belizean Builder that builds your home, one that works with Belize suppliers and knows what works here, not just whats cheap. The book I will be published end of this year will have recommendations and Bio’s of the Belizean Builders I believe is the best here on the mainland. I have seen their work, I know the owners of houses they have built, and I wouldn’t recommend them if I wouldn’t use them myself.
And at that point, I do believe this blog will take a right-hand turn, back to its original venue, world travel. At that point the entire blog will be published as a book I have been working on called, you guessed it!
“Building your new home in Belize, the Good, Bad and Ugly! “
Keep an eye out for the announcement of its released which appears to be occurring in December, on Amazon and other companies in eBook and print form. As I speak I have a well known Graphic Designer, Nada Orlic, designing its cover, my Editor panting, and three publishers anxiously awaiting the first draft.
Until our next meeting, start planning to visit your dream, and finding your paradise.
Happy Halloween everyone!
As we wind down in the final days of our build, the Pirate and his wench are finally able to explore. Here I am, searching for pirate treasure in Guatemala 🙂
As I wind down this blog about building our new house in Belize, Central America, my posts are getting gearing towards their final destination, publishing my third book about Belize. The new book will release by end of 2018, will be everything about purchasing property, selecting an honest builder who actually has integrity, and knows what he is doing, building your new home, and everything else you need to know. I will guide you through the entire process, including where to purchase everything for your home, from refrigerators, to alarm systems, lighting and pots and pans.
Watch for “Building your new house in Belize, the Good, Bad and Ugly”, available on Amazon later this year.
Wrong window ordered and installed a year ago, unable to open !~
But, enough about that, lets look at the “finishing touches” of our new house, which is at this moment 99% finished.
Our granite pass thru counter, sitting waiting to be installed under correct window for past year !
I will identify that 1% as the replacement of the incorrect folding kitchen window, and “pass thru” counter window. My builder, Nelson Montalvo has ordered the correct window from his supplier along with the massive amount of windows ordered for one of the other houses he is presently building. It is due to be delivered and installed within the next few weeks, and we are confident it will be with Nelson.
Calypso…guarding our beach and home 🙂
As security is an ever present issue here in Belize, we have an addition to our family, and a “girlfriend” for Oliver. Her name is Calypso (pirate wench of course), a full blooded Rottweiler from the states.
Beware…you are warned !
As Calypso will have the run of the property, we wanted a barrier for her to identify with, so as not to engage with beach walkers, creating heart attacks. Our solution was to have our construction handyman Rigo build a fence and gates along the side and back of the house, with “finish-line fencing material. With this as it is on our decks, it causes no barriers, in fact, as you can see through it, it almost disappears from sight.
When Rigo finished the installation, he asked me if I was worried that Calypso could walk or eat her way through the fence? I responded, she will be trained to only do that when someone outside the fence becomes a threat.
His response? “They are dead”!
Secure fence is installed, can you see it ?
Like I have often said to so many concerned about home safety, your two best defense options for your home are good lighting and a big dog. Nothing says stay the hell out like a sign that states “I can make it to this gate in 2.3 seconds, can you ?”.
We have been working on landscaping and our beach with the assistance of our groundskeeper, Rogillio, who makes me tired watching him work away in 90 degree heat, with a smile. We brought in a load of sand and he has been working on out beach to make and keep it beautiful.
See the small coconut trees on left ? They were 1 foot till a couple months ago.
I would like to say a little about landscaping, especially palm trees, when you decide to build your new home. Back when I first started this endeavor, I have a local nursery bring in three medium size palm trees and plant on right side of the beach, to mirror the three palms on the left. A couple months ago after deciding we needed some additional palms on out property, i invested in a few small coconuts with palm trees sticking out of them. I paid like $10 BZ each for these little guys, instead of $150 BZ for big guys.
See three small palms on right side ? $800 BZ !
I wish that two years ago I had done this, because they would be medium size by now ! Just saying.
If you have been watching the Facebook pages here in Belize, you probably heard about our assault by sargassum on our beaches. It appears we are finally over this wave fore 2018, I hope. Through the efforts of Rogillio, our beach is again looking awesome.
Today, post sargassum assault !
I will end with a view of the original one and only three piece wall painting created by my good friend Walter Castillo, the famous French Artist living here in Belize. We had this rather large wall over our folding doors to the deck, and engaged Walter to create a masterpiece, which he did. Let me say, it looks much more impressive in person.
Our latest addition, after Calypso 🙂
Be well, safe and live each day as if it is your last…. with Rum I would suggest.
Oh my god! A real beach!
Time goes on and the final “finishing touches” of the house are slowly happening. Our builder Nelson Montalvo ordered the correct “replacement” window for the kitchen, six panels opening outward, from his supplier. They should arrive soon and get that major issue finally fixed.
Still the wrong window, and granite counter waiting to be installed.
We have added some fencing to our original plan, utilizing the “Finish Line Bayco” plastic wire we brought down from Oregon. This will finalize completing the fencing of our entire property. We chose a combination of fencing that isn’t obnoxious, doesn’t really block views but does in fact state “enter if you have permission”.
Bayco fencing completing the security area (and dog containment).
We have multiple gates around our property for our neighbors and friends to come in to visit or easy exit for us to our most beautiful beach.
View from the Pyrates Cabana, new fencing and gate.
For security we do have multiple levels, starting with the fencing, graduating to our CCTV cameras and alarms.
Infrared Security Cameras installed high and dry.
And then we have our newest addition to our security system, enter Calypso, our new female Rottweiler.
Property signs 😉
GDIT ….Guard Dog in Training…Calypso…(hungry) Female Rottweiler.
Now I would like to continue with my highlights of Belize Quality Builders, with an intro for Martin Galvez. martin is a local Contractor/Builder who I hired to make my awesome from the iron gate and three smaller iron gates. Martin recently built multiple homes down the road on the lagoon and has started building a friend home in Amik Kil Ha, the fantastic development up the road from us. Martin and his crew can build any kind of home structure you have in mind, from wood and concrete to steel, and his finished product is excellent.
My Pirate electronic gate built by Martin Galvez.
Anyone interested in building here in Belize should contact one of our highly qualified and experienced builders/contractors, and martin certainly is on this list.
Sorry..kind of dark. House being built here in Maya Beach by Martin Galvez Construction.
You can contact Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org
And so, another day, another accomplishment or three. It’s always a good idea to start off your day with inspiration, today?
Mimosa’s! 😉 on the deck.
Great news…I have started the first (of many) edits of this blog for my soon to be published book. “Building your new house in Belize, the Good, Bad and Ugly”.
It should be finished and released for sale by December holidays, so keep an eye out for it. If you have been following this blog, the book will have some added important info and checklists, including my list of only the best and most honest builders in Belize, and contact info.
Till next time,
Gary …The Pirate
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 is 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 qualities and honest builders here, actually building my neighbor’s 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 neighbor’s 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 photos of their work, and contact info.
Then it’s 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. The 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 the 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 an 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 friend’s new home up the road on the canal in Coco Plum Residences, which includes a pool.
Last week Nelson started construction on another friend’s 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 that I have taken it out of my wallet so many times to let people copy it, who wanted to contact him.
Nelson is in the final stages of completing the 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 weeks 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!