Shovels in the ground on March 17

Editor's note: this is the second installment in a series written by a 
Canadian expat and investor who is building a small hotel in the fishing 
village of Las Penitas, León.
Home Depot Contractor pick up zone...NOT
Devry Armitage

Home Depot Contractor pick up zone...NOT

Water and Electric are set up and ready to go!

Some advise for those considering this type of thing, start your water and electric process early; it took us four-plus months and a bribe to get them to come out to the property to hook up and give us meters.

Start date for construction is March 17, the luck of the Irish be with me!
It’s been a busy couple of weeks; we’ve been finalizing finalizing finalizing, budgets, project plans, contracts and all the other preliminary work that needs to get done before shovels hit the dirt.

Here is how we decided to proceed with the build:

We contracted a construction company for one year to handle all labour. I am acting as the buyer. I hired an additional local, Efran, to act as my assistant because my Spanish is just not good and being a “chele” isn’t going to get me any discounts at the hardware stores.

The hotel is being built in three distinct phases. Our living quarters is first, which gets me out of the rental and on the site full time as fast as possible. (It also saves about $1,200 month!). Unfortunately, that also kills one full-time job for the night watchman. One of our stated goals in the project is to give as much work to the local community as possible. All of the infrastructure, septic, water, electric is also part of phase one.

Phase two is the two story section of the building plus the beach-front pool. Finally, the garden rooms.

This week was my first foray into my new role as buyer. Man things are different down here. Hardware stores are set up so you have to work with an employee of the store, no prices on anything. They write up a factura with the prices, then you take that around to all the other stores and get them to do the same thing. Then you compare prices and decided what your going to get from each place. Then they take the original factura and rewrite it all out again on a different form which is cc’d with carbon paper, then you go pay, then you give one copy to a person behind the other desk and they go get whatever you purchased. Home Depot it is NOT!

Another thing to note: it’s an all cash business. If you use credit cards, they charge an extra 6% service fee. Walking around León with $10,000 in 500 cordoba notes (150,000 cordobas) is somewhat daunting; it feels like I just robbed a bank and have the proceeds stuffed into my backpack! All day long I could hear my mind saying “Please lord, don’t let me put this bag down and forget to pick it up!”

I didn’t lose the bag, and we had a very successful week. We managed to purchase all the materials necessary for the first two weeks of construction, 100 bags of cement, 500 cinder blocks, 3 yards of gravel, sand and volcanic rock, some 500 pieces of rebar, and the beams for the first section of roof.

I feel good. It’s Sunday in Nicaragua, family day. I’m going to the bar!

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