My wife and I have been thinking a lot more seriously lately about building our dream home on our modest Ambergris Caye lot. On our next trip to the island in May we would like to talk to someone about working up a home design that we love and the subsequent building costs to pull it all together.
Since I'm sure a good number of you have gone through that process before, I'm looking for some guidence.
Is there anything that I should do to prepare for building on the island? Maybe get a local bank account? I'm assuming payment is done in BZD. How about a local phone number? Does this help facilitate communication? How much time should I reasonably expect to physically spend in Belize throughout the process?
I'm just brainstorming some questions here because I've never had a house built for myself, neither stateside nor in Belize and want to make the process as smooth as possible.
If you've gone through the process before, I would love to hear your insider tips.
I can't believe no one has replied to this!! I can't give you much advice, but be prepared as the process here is very slow. I'm in the process of applying for different permits. As for construction if you are planning on having something built, know that it helps alot to be on site. For some reason things don't get done unless you are there to push them along. Also you will need to find a contractor that is very reliable... I doubt an easy task!! Best tip I can give is never pay too much up front always keep some of the payment for when it is finished, get this and everything else you can in writing... signed as a contract. No verbal agreements and make sure the prices they are quoteing you are not just estimates in their mind, as they love to add extras after the fact here.
P.S. I'm sure you have other friends who can help you watch over the project while you are away. or get your contractor to commit to daily photo updates by e-mail
Bank account - yes get one in a local bank. also be prepared to have some payments be in USD - for instance things ordered via internet etc.
Phone Number - yes get a local phone. definitely!
You can have a house built in 7 months, or 2 years --- the differences will be related to the house, the builder, the weather and your own interaction with the process.
The best experience will happen if you: 1. keep it simple 2. use tried and true construction methods 3. make decisions ahead of time and don't serve up changes on a routine basis 4. pay your bills ontime 5. communicate 6. pick your builder carefully 8. don't get attached to the details in some dream-image of how the house just has to be - it won't turn out like that regardless of where you have it built anyway so avoid the stress by adjusting your expectations to having a good house in a GREAT PLACE, for a good price in a decent length of time with only a few assorted disasters (all of which you can overcome). 9. buy contractor's insurance on the project
Sunrise's proposed services could be a great asset in this process - experienced eyes are very helpful.
Caveat --- there are no warranties on anything you buy in the US and ship here.
And about "simple" ---- that does not mean ugly and boxy - simple can be very beautiful if you have a good designer. Get a good designer.
Budget - have access to about 20% more money than you think you will need. If you do that you will only be about 5% short of what you will really need. No joke. It's not about dishonest contractors - it's about that extra feature here, the fancy light fixture there, the rich color paint costing tons more than white --- it's always something and you just cannot predict it all. If you are lucky enough to come in on budget, you can have a party with the extra money. Not bad.
Great advice Diane. Can you explain how contractor's insurance works? Is this actually available in Belize? I know some of the larger builders will guarantee completion dates but that is built into the pricing.
Contractor's insurance is an all perils (fire-hurricane-flood etc) policy on the materials and the building whilst under construction. It is typically issued for 6 months at a time, renewable. Yes, available in Belize through R F & G.
Tincup it sounds like you may be asking about something I know as a "compeltion bond" rather than contractors insurance, and I don't know about that, sorry.