Interviewing “land agents”

The building permit process can be a field of landmines if you’re not careful. You can think of it as the wonder of visiting the motor vehicle bureau, minus the wonder and multiplied by a multitude of procedures.

Everything from ownership to the building zone type to the structure’s purpose and safety comes into play — with regional and local agencies and everyone and his cousin wanting in on the action.

This is not a criticism. The reality is that taking a piece of dirt and turning it into a viable (and beautiful) structure is one of the largest investments an individual can make.

There’s a full range of people that you will interact with. Each one knows that what you’re doing is a big deal. And while most want to help with good intentions, there are folks who want a bigger slice of your pie than they deserve.

So it’s necessary to meet a number of people in the same role who will solve significant pieces of your puzzle.

Above: a list of the procedures required for building in Indonesia, not counting the local Banjar community.

You might recognize #5 is analysis structure or structural analysis. And even though you may not know what #8 is, the all caps of the letters may throw off a hint that it means the FEE.

In an ideal world procedures #1-7 should be at the actual cost and #8 should be the _only_ land agent fee. But some agents don’t mind padding each procedure and so one way to read between the lines is that there’s eight fees, not one.

Above: interviewing land agents (on the left)

The end result is that we found someone at a reasonable price, and the only way we were certain was by interviewing several land agents and carefully listing their per procedure fees. One agent bundled her fee by marking up one procedure a great deal but then leaving out many others. Will we be charged for those later? Who knows?

For now we’re feeling lucky that the permit process has officially begun!


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