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Trip report perspective from an owner

Southport, North...
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Trip report perspective from an owner

So, I'm down on the island and will be here for quite some time by my standards (about a month and a half). I know there are lots of trip reports from vacationers and I love reading that perspective of things. It's always great to see things from someone else's eyes.

I was wondering if there was any interest in 'the other side', the perspective of that of a homeowner doing a project down here. I promise not to complain (too loudly), but thought it might help prospective homeowners see some of the things that they might have to consider before or after purchasing a home. I promise that this will be boring as heck so will only do so if requested as I'm just starting a major kitchen renovation due to the ceiling of my cistern collapsing.

Windsor, Canada
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1. Re: Trip report perspective from an owner

I'll play. In July we put a new cement cap on the stone wall, put up a frame for a new shade structure on the deck, put in a new post for the clothes line and a new post for the outdoor shower, had new mini splits installed in the bedrooms and then repaired the walls, put a new cover on the outdoor electrical panel, repaired deck boards, stained the decks and the deck furniture, painted the railings, installed new down spouts, painted all outdoor metal surfaces such as satellite dish mounts and BBQ, and bought a chain saw and cut down a bunch of casuarinas and treated the stumps, I'm sure that I'm missing a bunch of stuff.

I hear that there are beaches down here?

Let's hear about your kitchen Bret.

Southport, North...
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2. Re: Trip report perspective from an owner

From what I hear there are 135 beaches! I have seen them all. I know they exist. Ok, will keep the initial report as lite as possible so as not to antagonize our faithful readers who probably prefer happy stories of good restaurants, excellent snorkeling spots, and nice beaches.

Background: My cistern, the water tank under the dwelling that holds rain water for house usage, is collapsing due to the weight of the walls, which were placed incorrectly along with the lack of good support. The support that was installed collapsed in places. I noticed kitchen tiles starting to bend and break. Found out that my foundation was collapsing. We lived with it a few years, but decided not to wait any longer lest the rest of the house collapses inwards.

Challenge: My kitchen, which is 6' x 6', needs to be removed and rebuilt including both interior walls. All the floor tile needs to be taken out throughout the house. We need to cut out the 6" cement floor until the problem can be found. This also means draining the water tank completely before beginning.

Solution: Once we've identified all the collapsed support structures we will replace them, pour a new floor, retile the entire house, and then build a new 10' x 12' modern kitchen - all new cabinets, all new appliances, all new everything.

Some of my lessons learned:

1. It is really difficult to get things here. The coordination between buying, shipping, importing, and then transporting has been the biggest challenge. My biggest annoyance was that the invoices were incorrect so we got charged excessive import fees, which I'm still fighting. The import on cabinets is 45% of the price. The shipper mistakenly used the retail price, not what we paid. I'm being charged an import fee that is about equivalent to the purchase. Still trying to rectify.

2. Use a qualified buyer when possible. I found a very good one in Florida. He has been excellent. Not sure that I can post his info due to forum rules, but PM me for info. He was timely, accurate, got things where they needed to go, and didn't charge excessive fees.

3. There is no packing material on this island. I needed to remove everything in the house, and I mean everything. I shipped down bins, and, of course, couldn't locate all the lids. We managed, but it would have been nice to have plastic bins, bubble wrap, and other packing stuff here before we started.

A quick synopsis of what has transpired:

a. Day 0 - arrived late evening last night and removed everything from refrigerator and other food belongings. I was fortunate enough to rent my neighbor's house across the street and moved all of that stuff over here last night using plastic bags and a Kalik box to transport.

b. Day 1 - I started moving stuff and taking stuff apart as soon as I woke up. Had many, many weird Bahamian dreams during the night in anticipation of starting this project. Movers showed up at 9am, only 30 minutes late. They didn't exactly know how to pack a container, which I had rented from Seacor, but still managed. Took about 2.5 hours to clear the house of all belongings. All of my furnishings are in the container, however, all of my cabinets are behind the furniture in same container. We'll deal with that when we get to it. Sand is here for cement. Water tank is here (which I had to buy and it wasn't cheap) to harvest some cistern water so we can make cement. Rebar is here.

My construction is excellent, communicative, responsive, and has so far exceeded my expectations. Once they finish the job I will let everyone know who they are.

Next up: Drain the cistern and begin the demolition.

Southport, North...
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3. Re: Trip report perspective from an owner

Oh, yeah, almost forgot. Meals? Bought beer and wine at Sand's (I think that's the name) just south of the bank in GH. Huey carried the beer out to the jeep. He knows I tip well. Bought groceries at Burrow's a little further south.

Got home and was too tired to do anything except sleep after traveling for 15 hours from NC. Missed meal #1. Ate a can of nuts on the couch before passing out. Woke up this morning and had to get things ready. Missed meal #2. Went to The Beach House for lunch around 2pm. First meal of the trip. Michelle is open until 3pm on Sundays. Had a 1/2 of calamari and Jono's spicy shrimp (Jono is a friend of mine so I always order the shrimp there). Food, service, and Kalik were all excellent!

Virginia Beach...
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4. Re: Trip report perspective from an owner

I hope this makes you feel better -:)

lundman.net/gallery3/index.php/2002japan/J017

Just kidding, sounds like quite a chore, especially w/no Home Depot around the corner.

Southport, North...
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5. Re: Trip report perspective from an owner

Thanks Glenninvb! That's just a tad smaller than my old one. Once we took out the stove and refrigerator it made the room feel roomy.

Day 1 continued - the guys showed up around 4:30pm to begin draining the cistern. (I really hope they can make a hot tub out of the holding tank! j/k) The pump is small, but looked like it would do the trick. However, we were missing large channel locks and the tank is leaking. Checking with a neighbor for tools while the boys head off to Windermere to find something. If all goes well drainage should continue into the night. Dinner?? Maybe hot dogs or hamburgers on the grill. Could really use an M&J conch pizza.

Forgot to mention that that Out Island line in Nassau airport is de bomb. Instead of having 2.5 hours between flights I had 2.75 hours. With the delay on Pineapple was able to get an extra Kalik from Keisha at Rhum Runners at NAS.

Virginia Beach...
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6. Re: Trip report perspective from an owner

Bret S,

I for one like your story, its kinda like a trip report / real-life drama about the hardships of out-island living and if you keep mentioning food you should have Dave and the Hermit chime in. The Hermit may tell you how to live off the land with no kitchen and all. Something to do with Casuarina wood and feral hogs?

But with only 6 weeks, "island time", you shouldn't have time to be chit-chatting -:)

Southport, North...
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7. Re: Trip report perspective from an owner

I'll keep it coming. It's mundane, but perhaps an eye-opener in a way. daddis certainly knows what I'm talking about.

To complete my report this evening, the 850 gallon water tank looked to me like it was not going to hold on the palettes the boys set up. The front was hanging precipitously and there was nothing supporting it. They were able to get a few cinder blocks and jacked the thing up making me more comfortable that the tank would hold through the night. Leak was fixed and we didn't need to raid neighbor's garage looking for tools.

We now need to pour all of the rest of the water, something like 10K gallons, out into the ocean. However, the hose wouldn't reach. They left it in backyard just draining my purchased sand into the ocean. I had them reposition hose with a block to bypass the sand and funnel directly into the ocean. At what water costs on this island, I'm dumping about $5k worth right out to sea. Breaks my heart, but what else to do??

Tomorrow the demolition starts and begins with the dumpster delivery. We have some complications due to power lines overhead so I will have to be up early to oversee. Kitchen walls and tile expected to come down tomorrow as long as cistern draining has been completed. I feel sorry for my bugs, frogs, and snakes. That was their home!

Dinner. Yes, I ate tonight. Two burgers on the grill and a can of baked beans. Getting PGA leaderboard updates online. Tomorrow is a new day.

Eleuthera
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8. Re: Trip report perspective from an owner

Roger that, Bret, I've been reading this thread with a whole truckload of sympathy and empathy, and all those other pathos-based words.

Kay and I have been in a constant state of renovation and new construction for 12 years now. The house we inhabit was built in the 1940's, didn't even have running water. The kitchen was at one time a separate building. Power and water and bathrooms weren't added 'til the 1960's. So you can imagine some of the issues we run into while overhauling all of it and trying to maintain it at something approaching a modern standard. A lot of challenges and sweat and $$ -- but, frankly, none quite as dramatic as what you've run into. I'll try to drop by and check it out.

p.s. … hope you managed to catch the end of the PGA yesterday -- one of the wildest finishes ever for a major. Really bizarre, but a real hoot to watch.

Southport, North...
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9. Re: Trip report perspective from an owner

Mr. Addis - your pain seems much deeper than mine. Persistence, patience, and eccentricity run in all of us in various degrees. :)

Quick update - Cistern water was all drained when I went over to check this morning. Finished the last take down of things in about an hour. It's amazing what you have to take down when you have to take everything down (curtain rod holders, venetian blind holders, paper towel holders, etc.) The walls have been coming down since about 8:30am. Looks like the ceiling is not going to cave in as I feared. Lots of termite damage in the central wood owner's cabinet frame, but no sign of resident termites. The floor tile removal looks to be a formidable job.

Other things I found interesting. The walls were made of cement, but they used a wire mesh inside to save on material. The walls were just wood frames, mesh, and layered cement all done by hand. Sheetrock? Not when this house was made!

I'm going to miss my old 1970's track lighting. I always thought it gave the house some added character.

Southport, North...
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10. Re: Trip report perspective from an owner

A bit of the funnies you find as a homeowner. We weren't sure if the second cistern tank (waterside on the house) had the same problem as the front side. It didn't (whew!). What we did find, though, is the opening between the two halves is on the bottom. In other words, the backup container doesn't really retain water. It's really just one big tank, not a primary with an overflow. So, the fact that I have two sets of valves and pipes to control water from each tank is pointless. The two tanks are literally joined with an opening at the floor.

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