Getting to know the building trade

This is Bali, Indonesia. The building trade is a different ballgame than what I’m used to.

In the USA any individual can claim to be an owner/builder and get a building permit.

Here, I need to hire a “land agent” in order to get the required permits. Even though Shelly is Indonesian she does not know the extensive real estate bureaucracy. There is a permit for getting your house built, and then there’s a license for any purpose other than residency. The two main licenses I know of are homestays and hotels.

The goal for now is simply to get a building permit so that I could break ground. The other thing that’s required is to make a “donation” to the Banjar, the local community where the land is located. Sometimes there’s more than one Banjar in a community. It’s best to use your land agent to negotiate with the Banjar on the donation amount.

With builders, it is important both in the USA and pretty much EVERYWHERE, to have the building plans be as specific as possible and to AVOID changes throughout the building process. This is a challenge for the client (me), as its one thing to see plans on paper or even a 3D screen rendering, and another to see the building rise from the ground — hoping that it matches what’s been in your mind.

In Bali, not very long ago a structural engineer was not a requirement (unless of course you’re a major developer). But today it is, as well as a soils test. The two go hand in hand, as the engineer makes structural calculations based on the strength of the soil.

While waiting for the structural calculations and building requirements to be incorporated into the architectural plans, I have begun to meet with a few builders. Even during the road construction phase several road builders that offered bids were really home builders hoping to lock in both the road deal and the building. And as mentioned earlier, once you tell someone of your plans they will inevitably find friends who can help you. It’s understood that a kickback will be paid if I choose the “friend”.

Above: part of an 8-page quote from a friend of a friend even before the structural calculations were taken into consideration. A significant part of the quote, therefore, is just a guess. But perhaps because they were the first quote, the builder might be hopeful that I’ll blindly choose him.

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Above: an Australian builder who’s been building in Bali for twenty years showed me a home that he recently completed and a job site under development.

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Above: another builder used WhatsApp to show me his stuff. This look is more in line with what I’m after.

Regardless of who I choose, its going to be a considerable process to hire, manage, and maintain a schedule with whomever I choose. Wish me good luck!


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neillk

An expat from the USA living in Bali

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