It’s All Good In Medellin
This week in Medellin has been a whirlwind of meetings as we have worked to pull together the pieces for our apartment purchase here…and to launch its renovation.
So far, it’s all good news. Our real estate agent, our attorney, our banker, and even our seller have worked together cheerfully to accommodate paperwork and other delays on our end. As of this morning, the ownership structure is in place, the money has arrived in the country, and closing is imminent.
Now the fun begins.
We’ve toured two contractors through the apartment to discuss the makeover plan. Today we’ll give the job to the second of the two (who impressed us with his quick grasp of our big-picture agenda–we want to make this apartment appear as though it were built 150 years ago…charming and colonial is the mantra, and Carlos embraced this).
He’ll act as our general contractor, sourcing the other labor we’ll need (electricians, plumbers, carpenters, etc.). He’ll oversee the work and accept ultimate responsibility. We’ll pay him a percentage of materials and labor.
While he’ll manage all the workmen on the scene, he won’t pay them. We’ll review each sub-contractor’s bid, approve the work, and then pay him each sub-contractor directly. This way our new general contractor can’t mark up costs of the work he’s farming out…and can’t pocket the other workers’ pay himself and then disappear (this happened to a friend in Belize).
I’ll return to the city to be on site at critical points throughout the work (which is expected to take four months). However, I’m also considering having a personal representative on the scene, someone who has worked for me for a couple of years and who I know I can trust.
We have an estimate for the total cost of the work to be carried out. In my mind and in conversations with Lief, I’ve doubled that figure. If we spend less, Lief (and I) will be pleasantly surprised. I’ve learned, after a dozen renovations in a half-dozen countries, that things cost twice as much and take twice as long as promised.
At least that’s a safe rule of thumb, leaving the door open, again, for a pleasant surprise rather than a frustrating disappointment.
Even doubling the quote, the costs are very reasonable for what we’re planning. This qualifies as a total gut job.
Generally speaking, you can count on 3 to 5 million pesos for a new bathroom and 10 million pesos for a new kitchen. Overall, figure 600,000 pesos per square meter of renovation in this town.
Finding qualified, skilled tradesmen doesn’t seem to be a problem. Neither does sourcing interesting and high-end materials and finishes.
As I said, so far, it’s all good…