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Week 2

The demolition has been completed. Week 2 and everything has come to a standstill. I am waiting for the building architect and his engineer to let me know if we can move the duct which serves as a kitchen vent for the entire building. The Super is being annoying and saying no to everything. The contractor offered him money but the guy won’t budge. I do hope things work out – at this point I really cannot change the floor plan. All alternatives are worse.

My contractor is extremely annoying. Whenever my architect is around, he behaves differently. He is uncooperative, makes a big deal out of everything, tries to act funny, and smokes. Its so annoying. AM is in India so I have to deal with the damn guy. I trust my architect — she has a very good eye for things. She is able to look at photos and point out good ideas. Even though I may not have agreed on a few things initially, I have come around because after seeing photos I realize that she is right. So even if I don’t agree now, I know that she is right and its best to do it her way unless I feel strongly about something. The best decision I made — fire old architect, hire new one!

The contractor is another story. All contractors are like that — they will argue about everything and will do whatever they want. Any change you want to make, they will argue. I met one contractor who was much better, but his prices were way higher. Anyway this guy makes a recommendation which doesn’t work for me. He tells me, the Super is stupid, your architect is stupid. Everyone is stupid. I have a solution — here is my idea. He has such a big ego — a big big ego. So I made the trip to listen to his idea just to please him and motivate him. I wish AM comes back soon – the guy listens to AM, but with me he is annoying.

The worse things is, he smokes in my apartment. He has no manners and won’t listen when I tell him not to smoke. Its so disrespectful. How can someone smoke in someone else’s place when the host is saying no? So ill-mannered. I really really hate it when he smokes. Hate it. Its the most disgusting habit on earth – smoking. When we go to meet him in his office, he shuts the door and chain smokes. Its disgusting. I cannot breathe. I cannot stand it when he smokes in my house. If a contractor smokes before the owner, his men will think its okay to smoke and smoke in my apartment. The very thought disgusts me. I really wanted to write in the contract that every time he or his men smoke, I will charge him $1,000.

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In New York or maybe US, there are lots of vultures waiting to squeeze every last “drop” of your money. I am renovating my apartment, and everyone wants money. To start with, while closing my apartment purchase, I paid a lawyer, mortgage broker, and someone who helps in transfer of title. AM and I were sitting in a room with the seller along with both lawyers, seller broker, mortgage broker, and title transfer person. Our lawyer asked me to pay $200 “gratuity” to the person who helped in transferring the title. I have no idea why. We did not work with a buyer broker, so the entire 6% of sale price went in the seller’s brokers pockets – usually buyer and seller brokers split half. BTW the buyer has to pay for buyer and seller lawyers. Fucking American rules! Why the fuck should I have to pay for the seller’s lawyers?

For renovation, we have to pay the architect cum designer, contractor, expediter who files plans with the building department, application payment to the building management, and engineer to inspect the work and stamp their approval. The architect, contractor, and expediter each has his/her own recommendations on whom to work with for engineer, expediter, architect, contractor, etc. Its crazy! All vultures want a share of your hard-earned money. How can I forget the building Super, who may want something on the side?

My architect/designer is pathetic and spacey. She made mistakes with measurements, plans, and location of specifics. Had I not decided to confirm her measurements, I would have decided on the wrong appliance sizes which would have been costly. She is extremely forgetful and distracted, and doesn’t give two hoots. She also doesn’t make good recommendations. She suggested Viking microwave because it does not jut out like other microwaves. Viking costs a lot of money and its quality is not that good. I did not have many options because every architect our friends have worked with has been like that. Usually architects charge 15% of construction cost, hence its in their best interest to increase the cost and prolong construction time. We found one who was willing to charge by the hour. Her floor plan is good, but details really bad. Now we are wondering whether to go with her recommendations on expediter and engineer or our contractor’s.

Our contractor comes highly recommended. We reviewed several contractors. One thing about Americans is that they are GREAT salespeople, which is not always a good thing. Sometimes they focus more on selling and less on substance. I contacted My Home US. The guy came and gave his pitch, invited me to his showroom, and walked me through the entire workspace and office – a good 1.5 hours. He tells me that he will send me a plan with detailed costs, and sells the entire time. Anyway, when it comes to walk the talk, he sends a plan with $2,500 retainer cost for a designer who will come with me to showrooms to pick and buy materials. I know exactly what I want and I don’t want to pay for a designer. All his talk amounted to nothing. Which is why I am inclined to go with the expediter and engineer recommended by my contractor because they are all Greek. I cannot handle another American salesperson. I like my Greek contractor, who has no qualms about walking into my new apartment and saying “Your plan for the bathroom is bullshit.” I have arguments with him when we disagree, and our friends have told me to be very adamant and specific before any piece of the project begins because he can be stubborn. But I prefer an honest bloke to someone who will suck up to me and not have the guts to tell me when I am wrong.

I will save my comments on American salespeople for another post – don’t even get me started.

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