Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Lots of visitors to our house this week

The above photo is not our house, but it's fairly representative of the oversized ostentatious mansions where expats and well-off Indonesians live in Jakarta. These houses start at 3 or 4 bedrooms, and can have as many as 8 or 9. I was told by a local recently that it costs between US$7500 and $20000 to build a house like this in Jakarta. Sounds cheap, especially when they can be rented out for $1500-$5000 per month. Nice return on investment, wouldn't you say?

Well, there is a reason these houses are cheap. Labour is inexpensive, and shortcuts and shoddy workmanship abound. A few dollars worth of cement render, plaster and a coat of paint can hide a multitude of sins.

We were visited this week by a few million termites, who tunneled from their underground nest until they found the bottom edges of door architraves conveniently sitting unprotected on the soil immediately below the floor of the house. These little fellows love nothing better than to chew through soft timber like it's the last supper. (Actually, as we've since brought in the pest exterminators it probably was their last meal).

I was amazed at the initial inaction from the landlord, as we tried to explain that their "asset" was being eaten to dust right before our eyes. Our main concern was that our furniture would be on the dessert menu, however the landlord took a lot of convincing before they sent in the special forces to treat the affected areas.

When the munched architraves we removed from the door frames there was nothing between the floor and the foundations, so the termites had a plethora of entry points to unprotected timber. And they really love cheap particleboard kitchen cupboards.


Blogger Avi said...

Cool blog, I just came acsross it. I am also an expat living in Jakarta. Dude, who ever told you that you could build a house like that for that little is having. If not, put me down for 10.

1:49 PM  

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