So you are thinking about buying an apartment here in this beautiful city of Medellin, known as The City of Eternal Spring huh? Well, that is AMAZING! Congratulations on making such a life-changing decision. The way of life and enjoying the company of friends and family will definitely grow on you! It’s been an adjustment for me for sure, as I used to be a “workaholic”. The only thing I spent money and time on was my job and developing professionally, but where does that leave space for relationships to grown and flourish?
So, yes, I did buy an apartment here in the city. I bought one that (in my opinion) needed remodeling even though of course it as “livable”. I wasn’t only wanting something livable but a place where not only I could call home, but a home into which I could welcome guests from all over the world who are on their own paths of exploring this big old world we are so fortunate to live in. As a world citizen, I really wanted my guests from all parts of the world to be comfortable so I did make some changes to the apartment. I will go into more depth with pictures later on in the subsequent blogs that I write in the coming weeks, but I did want to throw it out there that there are some things you might want to “prepare yourself” for, most especially if you are a US investor (as I was). I am from California and my dad is a contractor himself so I know a lot about building houses, doing remodels, deadlines etc. One of my jobs in the US was the administrative assistant at a landscape architecture company where I was also in charge of writing many RFPs or Requests for Proposals. These are documents you submit as a “bid” to get a job. We had to have exact prices and deadlines laid out just to have a chance at getting the job.
Working with an architect here will be very different perhaps than what you are used to in the States. I won’t pretend to speak for any other country than my home one (the US) in terms of expectations etc. but in the US a deadline is usually a “hard” deadline. If the work is not completed by the date provided by the contractor or architect there are consequences (even if they be minor). Here, please please please be aware that deadlines are not “hard” deadlines. Most likely the architect will give you a date 45 days into the future as their “soft” deadline. By the way, they don’t call it that, I call it a soft deadline because the two jobs I hired my architect for both ended up having deadlines extended.
For one, there are many holidays here on Mondays, on which no one works, which is great! I am all for holidays, but sometimes the dates didn’t seem to be reflected accurately in terms of incorporating the holidays into the dates provided. Also, during December and the first two weeks in January it will be very hard to get work done. First off, the first two weeks in January are basically “non-work” days. Not for the contractors per se but for many families, and therefore many buildings do not allow construction or remodels to take place during these dates. My kitchen remodel was put “on hold” for this same reason I speak of which really threw me off, as two weeks is a long time (in my opinion) to have to extend a deadline. Not all architects are even aware of this it seems and it is building by building what is and is not permitted. Also, between the hours of 1-2:30, they take a lunch, so while many US citizens may be used to a shorter lunch, all work stops at this time!
Luckily, they DO work on Saturdays! Crazy right? That’s what I thought. Insane. Only 1/2 day but over time it does help to make up some “lost time”. I use many quotes throughout this blog as they imply what is “right” or “wrong” and really there is no right or wrong when working in and among a different work culture in a new country. Please, for your well-being try to remain open to changing deadlines if you plan to buy and remodel here. The second phase of the remodel I did involved the two guest bathrooms. These seemed like an “easy” job to me, but what I learned is that the tile on the walls (yes the tiles) are most likely always attached with cement so to remove them is a pain and it takes a long time is VERY noisy. If you can make the choice to remain in an Airbnb, hotel or even at your current home/family members home in the US during the remodel time definitely do so! I was already living in the apartment when I decided I also wanted to do the bathroom remodels. Not a good idea, as I don’t have a full-time job here, I was at home a lot and the noise very much affected my sanity! The bathroom remodels, while I was given the date of May 5th for them to be finished (2 weeks), it was extended until June 15th. So, that is about 40 extra days of work. People coming in and out of the house, dust everywhere, those days were very stressful for me.
So, I encourage you to make yourself aware of the rules and regulations of the apartments/building you are planning to buy so that you can give yourself your own “hard” deadlines. My advice is to take the date they give you and add at least 2 weeks for the “unknown” factors that arise, problems they encounter or holiday dates etc. If you want to be extra sure, give yourself a month or 6 weeks out from the “given” date. This will help ensure that you keep your sanity during the remodel and are stress free. There is definitely a best-case scenario when preparing for a remodel in this way…and that is that there would then be a CHANCE you can move in sooner than you had expected to! I mean who doesn’t love an early move-in date right?