Buying a new property overseas sounds all too easy. You go out and find what you want, take a look at it, then if you like what you see you put down the cash.
This can work fine if the property has already been constructed, even so you will probably want a surveyor to check that the construction is sound.
Now, what if you are going to buy a property off plan. Most property investors do this, as they will want to get in early to maximize their ROI.
All you will have to go on is the glossy sales brochure, an artists impression of the property and surrounding area, architects plans (if the development is still on the drawing board you may find these are artists sketches) and a list of internal specifications.
Warning: These plans and specifications may change before or over the course of construction.
If changes are made along the way you may not object provided the changes are for the good and are of the same standard or better than what was originally presented to you.
Ask yourself the following questions before buying:
Is the property going to be constructed to western standards i.e. as you would expect if you were buying in the UK or Australia, or to local standards of construction?
This is not an idle question. Believe me the standards vary from country to country. From mixing cement – the consistency has to be right – to the amount of reinforced steel that goes into the construction of the walls.
The electrical wiring of course, is very important and certainly needs to be up to the level of western safety standards as does the drainage and plumbing.
Leaking roofs can also be a big problem in the tropics where, lets put it this way, the rain doesnt dribble!
Beware of alang-alang grass roofs. They look great, but are they practical?
In Bali where you are most likely to see them they stand up well to the weather and will last approximately 10 years before you will need to replace them. However, in other countries with different climates, such as Thailand, they will not last as long. Look for properties with tiled roofs.
The labour force will either be local or brought in from neighbouring countries where the labour is cheap.
These workmen and woman will not have had any formal training and are likely to be unskilled. People who know what they are doing will, of course, supervise them.
Having said that, some of the workforce will be trained and skilled at what they do, although a lot of multi-tasking will take place. The good news is that most developers will have a western Project Manager on site.
Short cuts may also be taken, which will affect the quality of the work, if the workforce is not supervised at all times and therefore, this will impact on the overall finish of your villa.
What should I expect of the interior finish?
A developers reputation may be on the line if the interior finish he has promised you is not up to your expectations.
Obviously, if you were paying, let us say, US$150,000, you would not expect to see a finish that you would see in a villa costing 1 million dollars.
However, apart from the land and the size of the property, this price difference is often in the quality of what goes into the villa such as the kitchen and electrical appliances, bathroom fittings, flooring and tiling etc.
One would reasonably expect, for example, the interior walls to be straight and smooth and the tiles on the floor to match, and there is no excuse for shoddy workmanship, whether you are paying US$150,000 or a million dollars.
Agree on the standard of construction and the finish and get it written into the contract in case of any disputes.