Work Abroad but earn in USD

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

New Home Buyers Beware

This post is just a warning for all expats out there that are buying new apartments in Buenos Aires... your experience will be dramatically different than what you're used to back in the U.S. Unlike U.S. builders, the Argentine builders don't even hook-up the electricity before they finish. You have to hire an electrician to come out yourself. The light fixtures are not installed either and your closets won't be installed. The apartment is generally left in an unlivable state without additional work.

At first I thought this just happened to me, but from what I've heard from other buyers, it happens the same with everyone. The builders don't exactly finish the job.

Labels: , ,


Blogger familiaoconnell said...

Happily that wasnt our experience. We built a house and I would argue that the service and quality of what was done was better than what we were exposed to in Suburban New York. Generally, architect's do a much broader scope of work on a house or apartment (design, lighting etc) Do your homework and make sure your contract is explicit.

3/14/2006 11:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not a trap. I don't think it's their job to finish it. I think they do it more as leaving your options open, promoting independent/smaller businesses who do electricity and specialize in decorative fixtures, or constructing closets.

3/15/2006 01:17:00 PM  
Blogger ABA said...

El Expatriado is right on the money as usual. Trust me. I deal with purchasing real estate every week. There are exceptions to the rule but I specifically don't buy a lot of new construction because many builders are difficult to deal with here. No matter how many times I tell people how difficult it is here to do business, they think I'm exaggerating. I'm NOT exaggerating. It's one of the most ruthless places on the planet to do business in.

Look at the Transparency International statictics for corrupt countries in the world. Argentina ranks with Angola, Congo, Ethiopia, Iraq and some other armpit countries.

I love Argentina but people that come here on vacation and fall in love with the city are in for a wake up call if they keep most businesses operate ethically.

I know many people that bought new construction and they hired us to basically fight with the builders to finish the job. The key thing is having clear cut contracts that spell everything out ahead of time.

Not all builders are bad but many of them are. Good luck all.

3/15/2006 09:23:00 PM  
Blogger said...

ApartmentsBA and Expat, you are probably pointing out the percentage of deals that go sour. Did you know that the USA is the only country in the world where it is common for light fixtures and appliances to be fully installed? It just isn't the norm. Like someone said, spell it out in the contract, do your DD and use quality builders, etc, and you will be given a house 10 times the quality of the average house in the USA. Sorry you guys are having such a bad time at it.

3/27/2006 12:56:00 PM  
Blogger ABA said...


I'm not sure why you are saying I'm having a bad time at it. I to date have not had issues. It's the clients that have retained me to help them fix problems.

Your post about contracts etc is very misleading. I've found for the most part, people here just don't work as ethically as in the USA. I can send you dozens of emails from Portenos that read my website and they moved to the USA or UK and told me that they had a "reverse culture shock" at how everything operated so smoothly and ethically.

The difference is in the USA I could do multi-million dollar deals with a handshake. Here in Argentina you can have an iron clad contract and that means very little sometimes.

Your post about getting a house 10 times the quality in the USA is certainly not the norm. I would venture to guess I've bought a few million u$s more in real estate than you here so I can speak from experience.

Best of luck to all.

4/22/2006 01:48:00 AM  
Blogger familiaoconnell said...

Apartments Ba;

Have any idea how pompous you sound? I think maybe this is your problem when you are negotiating all these millions of dollars in real estate deals.

We have been down this slippery slope before on this blog. The way things are done in it right, moral, and the expat favorite, it it worse in than in the US? The argument could be easily made for the affirmative. But so are living in Argentina and expecting the worst, expecting everyone is a cheat and comparing everything to the way it is done in the US is different that being aware of the cultural differences, protecting yourself from odd business practices and being careful not being taken advantage of. There is no doubt that Argentina is a difficult place to do business in but whinning about it like a bunch of ugly americans is not productive and makes me ashamed of my country.

4/27/2006 09:27:00 AM  
Blogger ABA said...


I don't care if I sound pompous. What you see is what you get with me and I post what I feel.

Blogs are about giving your opinions (which you are totally free to do). I think as long as you are speaking intelligently that is the thing that counts.

This post is about posting experiences so I'm not sure what problem you have. You ask, "is it worse than the USA". The answer is clearly a YES it is. Yes, I'm living in Argentina but I'm not expecting the worst. I'm not expecting everyone to be a cheat. That is not at all what I said. I said that many companies and individuals are unethical which is the truth.

There is a difference between "cultural differences" and being totally unethical. I'm not comparing everything to how it is in the USA and in fact, I've told people not to do that. What I'm saying is that being ethical has nothing to do with "a cultural difference". Since when is lying or cheating someone a "cultural difference"???

No one is whining about it like an ugly American. What people are doing is informing people what it is like here. Being productive is about helping people. It's the reason why Americans and the USA is the most productive country in the world.

If you are ashamed of your country there are plenty of reasons and you don't need a scapegoat to be ashamed. Best of luck to you.

4/29/2006 01:19:00 AM  
Blogger familiaoconnell said...

The initial blog entry is about how the lights and closet arent intalled and the judgement is made that "the builder doesnt exactly finish the job". Well, that isnt the way construction works here..does that make it worst in than in the US where it may be the usual practice? In Argentina an Architect helps you pick out appliances and lighting and bathroom fixtures..does that make it better than in the US? No,they are just different ways of doing business. My problem is that anytime there is a thread about business practices here it seems an opportunity to rant about how crappy and immoral and corrupt it is doing business down here. Why when we are talking about different business practices there is always a digression to unethical business practices. They are not the same. I am not niave, but I have/had many satisfing business relationships here and while it can be confusing, complicated and
mindnumbing, it can be done and should be done without the presumption that everyone is trying to rip you off.

Right on about many reasons to be ashamed of my country's government, however there is a difference between my government actions and the attitude of its people.

5/02/2006 11:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was a construction firm that built about 15 buildings thruout Cap. Fed. Beautiful "torres a estrenar" with nice balconies and lobbies, wood flooring etc.

The only problem was the properties they were sitting on had been obtained illegally by an City Council member who forged the paperwork in order to allow the properties to be developed & sold. ALL the lots were City Property and NOT subject to sale, it turns out.

Once this was discovered the new apt. residents HAD TO GIVE UP THEIR UNITS AND LEAVE!.
The City considers the developers solely responsible for compensating the ex-owners (many of whom had already moved in BTW) and the developers -of course- are no-where to be found. Only the crooked councilmember got caught.

Normally his political carrer would be over but in Argentina ... who knows? year he may be president!.

Then there's the case of Emilia and her newlywed hubby, who bought in another "torre a estrenar" in Flores and after moving in they discovered that a crack developed across the cieling, a crack that eventually ran clear across from wall to wall of their unit. Turns out the construction firm had not done a good job with the foundation and subsequent settling rendered the whole building UNINHABITABLE. The whole freakin' building had the same crack thru it.
ALL the occupiers had to move out.
Again, the developers & construction firms were deemed responsible.

If only someone knew where to find them.

These are just SOME recent stories I know of personally. I can assure you that there are MANY more I could mention. I'm not saying not to buy property in Cap. Fed. I've done it. But buying something that has not been built yet is a definite risk. Unlike in the U.S., buyers have almost NO recourse if they get stung.

And in Argentina, they usually DO.

Que los pario.

5/15/2006 08:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said... an Architect who as worked in both countries, let me tell you something first.
There are bad businessman here and there, probably more bad ones in Argentina.
There are bad professionals, here and there, probably more bad ones in the U.S.(sorry it's the true)
Regarding construction, I don't know if you have been unlucky in Argentina or what?, but let me tell you, from the construction view point, construction quality is much better in Argentina than the U.S. in terms of housing. What Argentina lacks is design guidelines for handicaps.
Now, it's is true that to buy a house in the U.S. is much simpler and easier, but when you buy a condo, if you want to get different type of finishes and fixtures, it cost you and arm and a leg.
Meanwhile the Argentinean contractors, they don't usually finish the interiors. It's a common practice to leave the unit without the light fixtures or appliances.
They do install the things that you need to live, but the rest is up to you.
Example, you may get into the apartment and you will have the faucets in the bathroom and kitchen, but no hot water due to the fact that the gas meter is not installed.
You may have a light bulb hanging from the ceiling, but what kind of light fixture do you want to install, is up to you. And excuse me, but if you need an electrician to install a light fixture, much more useless can you be. You might have electricity when you get in (if it's a new construction) but you need to get your own meter eventually.
Remember, owners need to connect their utilities services..gas, electricity, phone, etc..etc.
It's the common practice in Argentina.
Regarding the cabinets, well...I wish they would give you something more, but once again, it's a common practice as well. In order to save money, bedroom cabinets are unfinished as some kitchen cabinets. It's not negligence, it's normal industry practice.
You have to understand that when you move to another country, you have to do what they do....."do as the Romans do" right?, and that goes for you ""...if you don't like the money you get, don't like people who works in are more than welcome to leave, there are tons of flights every day to America.
I am never going to understand people who don't like the place they live and keep whinning about it.
Don' try to change the world around you, you want to live in Argentina?..well, you'd better start to change inside if you don't want to have a headache.
But if you are still here, I am sure you are getting something of this equation, and something that is more valuable than anything else for start appreciating that and stop complaining.

1/28/2007 01:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

True, Argentine trades craftsmen simply do not exist! I have lived/visited throughout Argentina since 1990 and have never been proven wrong on this subject. There is very little pride expressed by present day construction workers/contractors in Argentina. As a matter of fact, I have seen some of the worst work I have ever seen. Contractors really don't give a crap, take it or leave it attitude. It's just part of the culture, little responsibility, let someone else worry about it.

1/16/2008 01:57:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home