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Monday, June 22, 2015

The 8 months on

There's a scene in the trailer for the upcoming Marvel superhero movie "Ant-Man" where the camera pans back from a dramatic train wreck, presumably involving our hero, to actually show the crash to be a child's 'Thomas the Tank Engine' set. It's very effective and evidently all a matter of perspective.

I had a similar feeling yesterday when Yohana and I went to check on the progress of the house. As those of you who've read the previous blog entries know, we bought the house from viewing plans and a model and it was interesting to get a better perspective.

When we bought the house we knew there was a small piece of land at the back of the house that we would eventually build on. The plans showed it as garden but it really isn't big enough to be that. The length of the house, hell the overall size isn't exactly what we needed, but the location and size of houses that we did want were outside our current budget so this was the compromise. Anyway, we knew that we'd eventually build onto the back but only really on seeing the show house did we truly realise the limited space we'd have to play with, especially in the kitchen area. So it was that Yohana and I started finding prices for the building of a small kitchen extension before the house itself is even finished.

First stop was the developers who are actually building the house and the rest of the cluster. It made sense as for one, they have architects and for two, they're in the middle of building the house! They were really helpful, especially considering that when we first bought the place they told us that small changes to the original design were impossible. Now they were happy to start knocking down walls and adding doors where previously a door couldn't be found. As it was a hypothetical situation we asked about a two story extension that would utilise the spare land at the back of the house. This would give us the extra space in the kitchen, a third upstairs bedroom, bringing the downstairs bedroom into the living room and adding a "maid room". Many families in Indonesia employ maids and whilst we don't have need for this facility ourselves, it would make the house more attractive if it comes to selling it in the future.

The developer came back within a few days to say that it would cost 30% of the original house purchase price. Considering it was giving nowhere near 30% extra size we thanked them for their offer and went away to rethink some stuff.

The culmination of the last few weeks of negotiation have been Yohana meeting with builders to discuss the work and negotiate the prices. The reason for Yohana doing all of this and not involving me in the meetings is trying to avoid 'Harga Bule' which loosely translated means 'westerner price' which sees everyone; contractors, retailers, street hawkers, inflate their prices when they see they're dealing with a westerner. The situation now is the contractor who is building the row of shops on the front of the cluster, as well as the cluster's communal swimming pool, is also building a one level extension to our kitchen and is working alongside the builders of the original developer from whom we bought the house in the first place. The added benefits are that the house will still meet the original December handover date, we won't have to start extending the kitchen after we've moved in, and the cost of the kitchen extension, including all tiling work, is 3% of the original house purchase price.

Pak Haji showing Yohana the kitchen extension while a guy makes what looks like a spear (seriously, it did)
To put the whole 'Harga Bule' thing into some sort of context, this was the first time I've been on-site in two months and while we were there we were offered many additional extras, some of which already come in the agreement! We did agree to a door which will lead to the space where a future maid room may be but which for now will be a small BBQ area and the upstairs above the kitchen extension will have to wait for a bit.

The difference between a house and a home is all about the people, the atmosphere and the decoration so we're now thinking a lot about that side of things (the decor, not the people) and anyone who follows me on Pinterest ( can see some ideas of things we like.

Here are some more photos taken yesterday....