After turning in our revised plans for a second round of figures, we were thrilled when we met with Mr. Graniel again and found that the figures were within our project budget. We then handed the drawings to Omar Guerrero for a second bid.
We discussed the project at length with Omar and he ended up taking both sets of drawings – the original and the revised copy. We waited 4 days and got back together with Omar for breakfast at Caliente’s – a very cool little Mexican joint on the beach. (We ate their Soupa De Lima or “hangover soup”, EXCELLENT!!!)
Omar reviewed the numbers with us and had priced the original plans, then gave us figures for the project if we used the revised drawings. He had also included a few things that Graniels had as add-on’s, like a cistern and water well. As it turned out, his numbers for the original plans were within the project budget! Omar also convinced us that he would really like to do this project with us, and that he would decline another project that he was looking at if we chose him. He gave us a few days to think about it and off we went, a little bewildered I’ll admit.
After a few hours of digesting what we had just learned, I’ll also admit that I started thinking about some of the things that we had heard while searching for a contractor. We started second guessing the figures, and spent some time worrying about what could happen, pitfalls, challenges we would soon face….some of those negative waves started coming in. We thought, “how can we make ourselves more comfortable with this decision?” During a rare phone call, my mother suggested, “do more homework!” (like she ALWAYS used to do!)
The owner of one of the projects Omar had shown us was gone when we looked at his home, so we decided to circle back and see if we could interview him. We tracked him down and spent a good amount of time with him – seeing his home again – more closely this time. We also re-visited a project Omar had just completed and had a cup of coffee with the owner – a raving fan. It’s a small bed and breakfast near the Palapa Bar (a San Pedro destination for newcomers and locals alike). We gained some in-sight on what we were faced with building on the island with Omar. We also obtained several contacts on trustworthy building material suppliers on the island.
This second visit to the bed and breakfast helped seal the deal for us. We chose Omar Guerrero Construction!
You might think, “well that’s it then. Get the shovels and let’s start digging!” Not so fast there, ‘lil doggie! First, Omar made some suggestions on things we should change on the plans. Things that would make the building more visually appealing (roof-line) and a few functional changes such as where to locate the well, sewer and power supply. Laura and I also added a bodega (storage/laundry room) on the first floor and a future caretaker quarters. So back to Marvin for final changes.
Once the changes were completed, Marvin made 3 copies. Next, he tracked down the health board representative for a stamp showing compliance for septic, sewer and water. After all three copies were stamped, we filled out the application together for the town council who would be providing the building permit (stamp and the required green sign). The builder, the electrician and the plumber all sign off on the permit application. It then gets submitted with $150 for the building structure, $75 for the pool permit and $75 for the fence permit – $300 BZ and off it goes.
Meanwhile, Omar was gathering detailed estimates for plumbing and electrical and preparing a formal, detailed (typed!) schedule of construction. This helps the builder clarify exactly what the project will cost and would become the basis for completing the project on time. A little clarification may be needed here. When we received original figures, the numbers from both builders were hand-written and really considered a rough draft to see if we were even in the same ball park. The final draft of that is 28 pages and the total came out lower than I was anticipating (don’t they usually go up from the estimate?). Another base hit for the home-team!
This document also will be used for running changes. Labor and materials can be added at various stages along the way, so both builder and buyer are on the same page. Any upgrades (such as windows, doors, counter-tops, cabinetry, etc. can be easily tracked so there’s no $100,000 surprises at the end!
Again with things that we learned:
- We essentially lost a month by A$$UMING that both builders bids would be very close.
- The difference (we think) is that one builder just finished a project and a political campaign and was eager to start a new project while the other was buried in work. He’d work it into his schedule but the buyer was going to pay for that privilege (IMHO).
- One builder recommended a floating foundation (how apropos for an island right?) while the other proposed sinking pilings to bedrock. It’s a great debate on the island, but we are going with pilings. The argument is that the ground here is very stable and hasn’t moved in 100’s of years. Personally I think either way would be fine if done correctly.
- Finalizing plans, tracking down draftsman and contractors, permitting – ALL take longer than you would think. I can’t imagine trying to do this from a few thousand miles away. It’s a full time job and I’m right here!
Omar drove around with me a few days later and introduced me to a few building material suppliers on the island and we established accounts at each one. We also established who had the authority to charge on the accounts, which will be reconciled regularly.
Rumor has it……..that shovels are in the ground “up North” preparing the lot for building! I hear that within days, we’ll be digging a well, and working on phase 1 – Alignment – setting the position of the pilings.
Stay tuned – the pictures should get a little more exciting from here! Also, please like us on Facebook and share it if you would. It would mean a lot to us to see more people following what we’re trying to do down here. It goes without saying that we LOVE comments! It gets a little lonesome without our friends and family around!