The Expat… Buying a House, part 2
It’s been almost a month since I wrote the last trip report on house buying here in Puerto Vallarta. I wrote it shortly before I had to leave to go back to California for a few weeks. In the couple of days before I left, we finally obtained the building permit (cost 2500 pesos instead of 500—no explanation). That was fine, tho. It’s still cheap by comparison to California.
On the day I was to leave, a ton of rebar was delivered and a dump truck pulled up and dumped a load of sand and gravel on the street in front of the house. I was a little worried about this because a few nights earlier the street was a river with enough water to wake board on.
This is where I left for 3 weeks. I left everything in Guy’s hands. “Trust is a way of knowing,” as the old saying goes. I had little choice. With Guy, I ran with my instincts, instincts that said he was extremely intelligent and capable and one of the good guys. So far, the instincts are right. When I came back down to PV last night, a lot of changes had taken place at the ol’ homestead. Guy was at the house when I arrived, and so was Gregorio, the maestro, lead man for the sometimes 2, 3 or 4 man work crew. I could tell from their faces, even before I looked at the work, that things were going well. The smiles were real.
All of the sand and gravel on the street was gone, carried up 2 and 3 floors to the work areas. A mass of bricks for the roof wall are also up top. The rebar was all used up and the whole framing structure for the third floor roof was poured and in place. Damn, it was starting to look like the house I had dreamed of when I described to the architect what I wanted to do. The first stairway is in place and usable but not finished yet because of the heavy traffic that needed to go up it for the roof work.
Today, my second day back in PV, more rebar and the wooden framing for pouring the top floor/roof are being delivered. Heavy material delivery in PV is fast and efficient. We chose (actually, Guy and Georgio chose…) a materials place out past Pitillal for its price and fast delivery. We’ll be using a cement delivery truck with a tall extension for pumping the cement up and over the electric lines to the forms on the top floor. High-tech combined with manual labor on this project. I usually just use manual labor in my work, so this combination is amazing to me.
I’ve contracted only for the rough work in this project. I’ll still need to find masonry finishers and tile setters to complete things. I’ll also need to hook up with some metal workers for windows, doors and railings. I’m starting to wonder if the house will ever be ‘finished.’ With every project stage completion, I think of new things to do.
In PV residential areas, you can build up only 3 floors, but you can make the roof of the third floor a terrace, which I am doing. Some of the neighbors are a little worried about a building this tall (most buildings in the area are two stories). But they seem to be not more upset than anyone is when something new happens in their living space.
In this part of Mexico, house walls are shared and you are sometimes more than neighbors with those living next door. In this case, all of the people living on the south and east sides of this house are closely related. It’s one big family. The west side of the house is the street and the river and the north side is the house of the woman who runs the hot dog stand across the street at night.
The house originally had windows on the north side but they are plugged up because you need permission from the neighbor adjacent to put in windows if they overlook their living space. Apparently Sergio, the original owner of this house, didn’t get that type of permission and had to plug the windows at some point. This seems like a good law since I would want my privacy protected if someone started building a high building overlooking my place.
On my last day here in PV on the last trip, I found out that I had some type of legal concession right to the land on the river bank across the street from my house. All of the other neighbors have little food stands there. I was thinking of a bagel stand since I can’t find any good bagels in town… My sister-in-law makes bagels commercially and I’m going to visit her next month to try and steal some trade secrets.
My name is Rick, but that doesn’t translate well into Spanish so I end being called Ricardo or Rikii (sp?): “Ricardo’s Bagels” or “Bagels Ricardo” If you see a small bagel stand alongside the Cuale River with one of these names on it, that’s me. I’ll have to be in disguise, tho, since I can’t legally work a bagel stand here. I can own it, but half the fun of it would be working it.
This reminds me of another place I was looking at to buy here in PV: a beautiful 8 room mansion in a really lousy location out by the town cemetery. The only use I could possibly see for this place was as a brothel. I always had dreamed of being a pimp, but major parts of my head and/or heart always disagreed with the concept. Other parts of me (not my head) liked it… One night at the CyC bar down on the beach, after a bit of talking, etc, I think I remember a friend here, Juliana, offering to be the Madame if I bought the place.