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Thread: Buying/ building information

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2008

    Buying/ building information

    I have some thoughtt that I jotted down as we are in the process of also building or Cynthia style home on the island of Aruba.

    Building in Aruba
    1ST let me thank my wife of 32 years for letting me pursue my dream.
    2nd I must give thanks to Cheryl and her good friend Kathy for a lot of good useful information and time and patience with me.
    The contractor that we selected has made the process pretty easy and we have had our moments but I feel we have had more good times then bad.
    As the owner of B Homes told me when we purchased the land and I asked the usual question how long does it take to build a house here. He said you see that little house there or that big house either way plan on a year. Patience is a must don't listen to time lines just follow construction as much as you can.
    Require digital photos.
    I hope this information helps as you make your decision.
    Let me try to put this story in some sort of order. My wife and I purchased a piece of property land approx 2 years ago and am now in the middle of construction of our home.
    There are a lot of issues that pop up before and during construction that 1 must be aware of.
    I will only tell of what we did and it may or may not work for you.
    After you decide on the style of home you want to build sit down and look around your own home
    and look at your design. Please make sure that certain item make it to your drawings. What you say! Thinks are different in Aruba.
    Create your own spec sheet to send out with your bid. Let the contractors know they are competing
    interview your builders and talk to others that have used them. people will tell you the way it is.
    1 Type of windows. Aluminum, the nice cedar ones or Vinyl I think they are called UVPVC. Some of the larger contractors use Bista Bonita aluminum windows Single pane with either a colonial or Britteny style grilles. I highly suggest if you go with these windows to go in and speak to Fritz or the owner Louris Hagen. You will find that there are other glass options available to you Such as Lo E and even Casement windows made out of Aluminum.
    Cedar Windows look very nice and do add a ertain amount of charm to your home. However cedar also requires maintenance and the screens in many instances have to be removed to open the windows
    2 Hot water at what faucets do you want it make sure it is on the print the locations you want hot water.
    3 How are you going to heat the hot water by a conventional gas tank hot water heater or an on demand hot water heater.
    4 Location of electrical outlets and switches how many were heights of outlets and switches.
    5 phone and cable jacks.
    6 heights of outside spot lights
    7 are you going to mount your Airco outside high or close to the ground. There are switches that need to be installed outside before the stucco is applied.
    8 placement of tiles on the floors do you want a diamond pattern in one room or another.
    You have to ask a lot of questions do not assume any thing.
    If the contractor tells you this is the way in Aruba ask is it that way in Aruba or is it your way. You may find you can have it your way.
    9 ask what type of roof tiles they are using or that a side trip to Kooymans and go out the back door and look at the many styles available to you. If you want a particular style specify what it is you want before going to bid.
    10 interior doors what style do you want ask what is included or specify again before going to bid
    11 colors of paint if you want each room a different color specify you do not have to tell what color you want just that each room will be different.
    12 Plumbing a simple thing like a toilet in Aruba has to be given consideration.
    Remember H2O is quite expensive my calculation has it at aprox. 2 and a half US cents per gallon.
    So water saver toilets and shower heads are a must.
    Septic system I suggest an extra holding tank for the sinks and showers in the Bath rooms. This water can then be used to water your gardens. I also gave my contractor a drain to install in the top of this holding tank to catch rain water.
    13 If you are going to have a washer and dryer you may want to have a little room on the outside of your house for these appliances and make sure the room locks.
    Also in your contract identify who is paying for construction power. Electric is quite expensive and it goes at the whim of Elmar and the price of oil. It cost again approx. .45 florin cents per KWH.
    If you are paying for this and you are 2-3000 miles away you may find you are paying for electric the carpenter is using to build you neighbors house. Or your carpenter may trade a day's use for a bag of cement. They are all connected and it is just the way it is. However you may want this is your name and just deduct it from the final payment. It may make it easier in the end when you need the power in your home.

    More to come
    Let the carnival begin
    Norman Paperman

  2. #2
    Senior Member Retagger's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Hello Norman,

    We are closing on our land On March 4. We will also be building the Cynthia 3/2 with Better Homes. We plan on picking all of our options and additions during the same week - we have a meeting with the builder (Bob) on March 5. Hopefully, everything will go smooth. We are also researching hiring a company to "Watch Over" the contstruction process since will will not be there.

    The electricty should not be put into your name until after you have closed on the house. When are you starting your home?

    Last edited by Retagger; 02-22-2008 at 04:07 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    We are already in the middle of construction. as far as the electricity is concerned read the contract as it may specify that you will be responsible for the tempoary elec. Most times the Subs they will go and plug into a house that is close and has an outside outlet or make us of some ones construction power the subs will barter or pay a small fee for the electric to the sub on site at the time . I elected to put it in my name only because in the end it may or may not save me a few florins. Also we are just going to deduct the electric cost from the final payment.
    Our is also a 3/2 Cynthia
    Mr Norman Paperman
    Let the carnival begin

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Phase 2

    A good Read before you start is a book my daughter gave to me Gringos in Paradise. There are others
    I used some of the suggestions from the book and sometimes i think the contractor read it to.
    Example When Itold the contractor he had the house to build. He said well it is customary when i build a home for an American for them to bring me a tool. Ok I said what do you want he said a power planer this was i swear out of the book. So i brought down the power planer and what I said was it is yours if you build me a good home and build it on time. It feel it helped to start a friend ship.
    I am glad I went with the smaller contractor.

    Tiles typically the contractors allow 25-30 Florins a sq meter. Look into the contract and ask or have it written that if you only spend 20 florins a sq meter you want a credit for the 10 Florins per sq meter.
    Or see if the extra can be applied towards a decorative tile for the bathroom or Kitchen.

    Roof Most roofs are tiles ask if there subs will color the cement that is used for the roof caps to match the roof. This is just for astetitics

    Stay in touch with your contractor be a pain if you must. Some would suggest to signup with one of the VOIP's I chose to use calling cards the one I use is 10 Bucks for 40 minutes and you can use it with your cell phone. I am on the road alot.

    Even the types of cement that they use for the finished walls makes a difference to the textures of your finished walls.

    Take the time to go to a Home depot and pickup some small rebar or stakes and a big ball of string and find a flat area the you could fit your house onto were you live now and outline your house. It is only a guide but will help to show you how big or small a room is. It is easier to make an adjustment on paper.

    If you are going to have a ref, with water and ice cube maker make sure thereis water on your print showing were you want the water.

    Dishwasher the electrician will need to Know if you are going to use a 120 volt or 220 volt dishwaser as these are available on the island and at least one of the cabinet suppliers uses them.

    If your contractor is going to us a local carpenter to build your doors,windows or Cabinets ask to be taken to there place of business and view there work. Some is very good.

    Ask how they mount the windows is it a cedar frame or right to the cement. There may or may not be difference for you.
    Check prices ask if the lumber yards offer discounts. Some of the stores offer discount cards for a small fee.
    Pay attention to the time as most stores close for Lunch. I know I was locked in the Comdemsa lumber store for period of time and had to leave the store by climbing over the roof.

    Grab an Aruba phone book and keep it near your phone at home.
    Ask for extra electrical conduits from your electrical panel to the outside of your house. I had no fewer then 3 installed 1 over sized conduit for a future pool this goes out the back. Another for a future gate operator and then another ligts on the wall. And I have 5 sticking into the attic for spares.
    Remember this is solid 6 or 8 inch block construction.

    Please remember this is what I did or some pit falls that I fell in to and this is only a guide.
    More to come.

    Let the carnival Begin
    Mr Norman Paperman

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2008

    Phase 3 shipping

    I have seen posts on this board and others on shipping
    This is my experience with shipping

    1 go to your local large chain home improvement center. 1 that has a store in your area and they must have a store in Miami unless you plan on shipping a whole container then that is another storey.
    2 jot down the sku nimbers of the items you need to ship to Aruba.
    If you are going to order your cabinets let the sale associate of your intentions that you don't plan on buying them there but you are going to have them purchased in Miami. You will find mostt sales associates very help full.
    3 armed with my items I contacted the H D on W Flagler Ave in Miami.
    The orders go thru the Pro desk You give the Asssciate your Sku's. You may not be able to get all of your iems as I found that a H D in the North doesn't have the same in Miami these were basic items the had the same just a different Manuf.
    4 H D has Company that all they do is prepare sgippments to the Carribean.
    5 Wow international shipping and with shipper ID'd you pay no sales Taxes.
    6 Shipping cost from my shipper for this shipment
    Ocean Freight is figured @ 3.25 a cubic foot
    Bill of Lading service 30.00
    Documentation Fee $35.00
    Insurance for this order was 27.33
    Bunker service Charge $ 61.23 / this an additional charge when I asked the shipper what is this the Email said for fuel. I asked howit is derived at by weight or Volume no response to this
    7 Arrival to the Isaland and then The govt. of Aruba get there cut
    TAxes for a washer is let say 12% but the dryer is 22%. I am told that a dryer is looked at as a luxury item.
    The the freight co will deliver for you for a fee or you can pick it up or have someone pick it up for you. If you have someone pick it up make sure there name is listed on the documentation.
    This is what I have on Shippping.
    Let the Carnival Begin
    Mr Norman Paperman

  6. #6
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2007

    house in Aruba

    Please continue. We are building next to Retagger. Cheryl and Kathy have been so nice to us also. Each person who helps tell their construction story, helps the next person who might be building, and makes it a little easier. Thanks everyone so much for all your help.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2008

    Phase 4

    Phase 4
    The process to the building permit
    Last February I went down to Aruba and started the process of interviewing contractors just to sit and ask questions and to listen to what they had to say and not to say.
    I met with no fewer than 5 contractors. I wanted to know do they have there own employees or is there business using more subs then there own work force. I felt that my experience here in the states was that a contractor that used or had there own work force would tend have more control over the project.
    Also I wanted a contractor and be able to speak to the owner. I guess I just wanted a good line of communication.
    On this trip I went and visited the major lumber yards, window suppliers and the Kitchen Cabinet suppliers on the island. I also went and spoke to my neighbors and just spoke about there experiences with the contractors that built there homes. Items they liked or didn't like in the construction of there home. The slowness of construction and lack of communications and windows were a few on the issues.
    The final design was not yet complete. In fact I changed designers in the middle of this process.
    This was just a personal decision. It was undecided as to the design we wanted. 1Floor or go with a 2 floor house. But as it was pointed out to me you are retiring do you want to have climb a flight of stairs to go bed every night. Plus there was no special view. Remember unless you have unlimited funds the Budget is the budget.
    Next visit April.
    On this visit we went back and visited the construction sites of the contractors that we interviewed just to ck on the progress of these homes.
    We also finalized a design. We visited a neighbor that had just built a modified Cynthia design. My wife and I came to common ground and agreed on this style.
    We met with the designer from B Homes and through Email we worked out our own design,
    it came in at 124 Meter sq. This is were I would use some thought as if you look at the foot print of any house the covered Patio the front entrance that is not covered is counted in the sq Meter of your house.
    It was during the design process that I made sure my window selection was put in block squareson the prints or maps as they call them.
    Any thing you want special make sure it gets documented. I just like to see notes on the drawings.
    After approx. 2-3month's back and forth with changes a final design was settled on.
    The designer applied for the building Permit. At this time I sent out the packages to the contractors for Bid.
    The building permit was ready to be picked up in 6-8 weeks. I payed the designer a fee to design the house and apply for the building permit. Well there is another fee that is bases on your Sq footage when you go to pickup the permit from the DPO. At this 4 of the 5 contractors returned there proposals.
    The contractor that did not return did contacted me and said the reason that they weren't going to give me a Quotation was that they had taken on a large project and his crews were going to be very busy.
    I was sorry he didn't bid as he would have been in the top 2or 3.I appreciated his honesty.
    Let the Carnival Begin
    Mr Norman Paperman

  8. #8
    Senior Member qlaval's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Dear Norman.

    Thank you very much for those exhaustives and long to write reports they are well appreciated!

  9. #9
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2007


    Thanks Gene.

  10. #10
    Member curlylaura's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008

    your home

    Your information can help lots of people from having lots of heartache! thanks for all the details. Is there anyway you can send me an email to let me know which contractor you went with?

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