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BARCELONA RENOVATION: Paying for the building work in stages

barcelona property renovation insulation
Walls and ceiling insulation done

After two months work renovation an apartment in Barcelona’s Eixample district great progress has been made, and I’m delighted with the quality of the building work so far – more or less on time and on budget. Some people have asked me how I’m structuring the payments, and have warned me against handing over cash in advance. I’ve agreed a transparent payment plan with my builders that I find works very well, so I’ll explain it for the benefit of others looking at refurbishing a home in Spain.

We have agreed to approach the work and payments in two phases. Phase I starts with preparing the flat for building works, including tearing out the old kitchen and bathrooms, then installing all the insulation and finishing the walls, floors, ceilings, plumbing, wiring, aircon, heating, water treatment, and ordering all the exterior carpentry, and other bits and pieces.

Phase II will be installing the kitchens, bathrooms, lighting, carpentry, parquet flooring, seagrass fitted carpets, restoring the antique hydraulic tiles, painting all the walls, cleaning up and snagging.

We started the work on my Barcelona flat in mid-January, almost two months ago to the day, and phase I is about 70% done. Once a month my builders send me a detailed certification report for the work completed, and invoice me for that work alone. So I make monthly payments based on progress rather than handing over money in advance. I find this is a good way to structure the payments, as one never feels nervous about paying for work that hasn’t been done, and worrying if it will be done.

I did, however, make one payment in advance. When I signed my contract with the builders I made a one-off payment of 15% of the budget to help their cash flow at the start of works. That 15% payment is discounted from every monthly payment, so if the certification invoice is for €20,000 the final figure to pay is €17,000 after subtracting 15%.

It’s a transparent payment plan that keeps both sides happy. I would recommend it.

Radiators awaiting restoration

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One thought on “BARCELONA RENOVATION: Paying for the building work in stages

  • Chris Nation says:

    Going along nicely, Mark. Well done. Isn’t it great when they stop demolishing and ripping stuff out and start putting things in?

    For a big project like yours I think your payment regime is excellent. You pay for what you’ve had, the pain of coughing up big bucks comes in manageable doses and everybody knows where they stand. For projects under Eu20k I think the 1/3 – 1/3 – 1/3 (-5% for snagging) works well.

    I started planning sockets and switches well before any work began. I was able to do this with the help of a really excellent architectural planning app called ‘floorplanner’. It’s very simple to use, once one has watched the first two tutorials (oddly enough these are not under the ‘tutorials’ heading but in ‘tips and tricks’). With this app I was able to plan every room down to the bedside cabinets.

    Planning is in 2D but you can view your project in 3D, with vertical and horizontal rotation of view. To get best use of 3D, reduce all your wall heights from the default 2.4m to 50cms. This means you get a better angle of view into rooms, rather than a bird’s eye view because you’re peering over a 2.4m wall. All the other ojects remain the right size. If you have placed your windows the correct height from the floor, with the reduced wall height they appear to be floating in space!

    There is a library of objects, from doors, windows and other archictural features, to furniture, including actual IKEA products like beds and chairs. You can look up the dimentions of these on the IKEA site and use them in planning your room layouts. When all the furniture is ‘installed’ in the rooms, it becomes clear where the sockets and switches should go. The app is free for 1 project but only about Eu8 for 5. For anybody planning a build or renovations, I cannot recommend it too highly.

    I planned the kitchen units down to the last mm. This worked out perfectly except in the case of the 2m column cabinet to house the gas boiler. For some reason I never understood, the kitchen fitter stood this cabinet 20mm out from the wall to its left. This stole 20mm of <30mm clearance for the washing machine in the gap to its right. This has made the machine devilish difficult to get out, as was necessary because a small piece of plumbing debris prevented the machine from emptying – and even more difficult to get back in.

    You have to have eyes everywhere – even better if you can manage it, E.S.P. I missed the fitting of that column cabinet till it was irreversible. I also missed sparks putting the bathroom light switch on the wall behind the door, if the door was to be fitted how we all agreed it would be – opening inward. Sparks knew which way the door was to open because I discussed with him the fitting of the towel rad where it would not be hit by the opening door. So the door must now be hung to open outward, which will affect the hanging of the other two doors nearby. They do these things, these guys …

    Lighting is indeed a big subject. My solution was to make use of the false ceilings in the salon/comedor and kitchen, which are 'interior' with windows looking out onto a lightwell, by having lots of LED downlighters. BricoDepot do packs of 5 x 8W spots for about Eu35. An 8W spot produces plenty of light. I have ten of them in my 6m x 4m salon/comedor, split 6/4 on two switches. Do think about switching zones of lights on. I learned about that from freinds who have a conservatory about the same size as my salon/comedor but, although they have a dining table at one end and sitting area at the other, all their spots are on one switch.

    As with Mark, if you need a good crew for a project in Valencia city or similar radius from Xativa, I can put you in touch.

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