Building the Cheap, Ecuadorian Way

building in ecuador

“Damn, I feel like a slave owner…”

…I thought as I watched my team of 4 Ecuadorians work on a property of mine this week on the coast of Ecuador.

I mean, it was hot, and they were heaving bags of cement and stuff, my eyeballs were sweating just watching ‘em but I was in fact paying them to do work they chose to do. But I still felt like a slave owner, don’t know why.

Chances are, once you find your dream property in Ecuador, it will still need a bit of work.

In Ecuador, there are two basic ways locals build or remodel a property.

More expensive way: You can hire an architect and they can draw up the plans for you from scratch, hire a building team and manage the project quoting you one price at the beginning for the whole project.

-or-

Less expensive (cheaper) way: Find some local “albaniles”, that’s the Ecuadorian term for “builders”or “handyman” and build and manage your own team.

Where can you find them?

Ask around in your town of Ecuador, usually there is a corner where they all hang out waiting for work… (yes I know, it is VERY similar to Southern California for those of us who have lived there.)

You just drive up, and wave them into your car, and off you go, not too tricky actually.

Many actually are very multi-faceted and able to lay tile, do plumbing and more.

So how much do they charge in Ecuador?

The average going rate for an “albanil” or “maestro” in Ecuador is $120 for a full-time work week (5 days, 8 hrs a day), as of in April of 2012 as I write this.

But to see quick results I recommend, from personal experience, to not pay by the week or by the day and instead to pay by breaking the project up into steps negotiating a price to pay upon the completion of each step.

Overall, hiring an architect or building company is recommended if you aren’t going to be present, or if you’re building from scratch, while the second option is good if you will be present and would like to micro-manage and be a little more hands-on.

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