Things are moving forward with the house – a little slower than I wanted but it is to be expected I suppose. I met up with the architects and they gave me a set of conceptual designs based on the brief I had given them. I have to say it is a good feeling to see what the place is going to look like. At the moment you have to have a lot of imagination and vision to picture the property finished – every time I walk into the place I get excited, even with the trash, bottles, dogs and rats all over the place. They did pretty well with the designs and even added a few features that I didn’t think of and ones that can be added over time.
The constructional engineers came by during the week and it wasn’t all bad news. Most of the beams holding up the roof and the floors will be reusable which will be a huge saving. They said the front structure is pretty sound which is awesome news however there are question marks over the two pillars that hold up the upstairs sun terrace and the two rooms at the back of the rear construction. Not sure what that means yet but I am sure I will find out soon. The one thing that does worry me is that no one wants to say a price… strange hey lol.
I have got some quotes in for the plans I need to apply for the permits so I will be making a decision shortly on which architects to go for. From what I have found out I need four sets of plans; Original/structural, conceptual, plumbing and electrical. My main aim is to get these permits applied for to get the ball rolling, I can worry about getting quotes for the work whilst I am waiting on the permits.
I did drive by the other day to a bit of a shock, they are digging up the road and sidewalks along the road – I later found out that the government is investing money to replace the sewage pipes and electrical lines which is a plus. However, to my shock there was three children having a shower in front of my property in their underwear… They had a hose pipe connected to what I am guessing is my water supply that is now accessible due to the sidewalk repairs. I had a horrible feeling I might be providing the neighbours with their water and power… So the utility companies were called and they came around and cut of the water and electricity until we start restoration. That is one thing over here you have to be really careful of – the electricity thieves! The cost of electricity over here is astronomical and having neighbours hook up to your supply is a frequent occurrence. I am glad I spotted that one early.
With regards to the paperwork side of the house; I have paid the taxes – a 3% transfer tax and registration fee. I had to go to the DGII (government tax office) to find out the amount I had to pay. This would have been a little quicker however I have not yet applied for residency – silly I know – and therefore have no cedula (ID) number yet. It is not a big issue as over here you can buy property with just a passport as ID but you need to have a personal RNC (tax) number. It’s very handy having Katherine’s dad who is a lawyer as he sorted all this out for me. So I now have an RNC number so I can pay tax on the house – oh the joy.
On the day we had to go and pay the taxes I thought it would be a simple process but this is Dominican Republic and something that should take 30 minutes takes 4 hours – but I am getting used to it. So first things first we had to get a cheque issued from me to the government, I won’t bore you with the details but after an hour and a half in the bank we finally sorted it. So then down to the tax office, after waiting about an hour – which was strange as the place was pretty empty and there was a lot of staff at the windows – we finally got to the desk only to find out that we needed to fill in another form – for that we have to go upstairs and take a ticket then come back down and wait to see an attendant again. Hey but I didn’t care, taxes were paid! woop woop – you get a green sheet stating the amount you have paid.
I am almost at the stage of getting the title in my name, I just have to go to the DGII office this week to hand in all my paperwork.
So what else is new… The new president has released his new tax rises that are apparently going to allow the country to grow and prosper… or as everyone here sees it just to line a few more government pockets, but I won’t go into that.
There are a few of the usual suspects that aren’t to shocking such as a rise cigarette and alcohol tax. They are also raising the property taxes – registration tax will now be 4.5% rather than 3% (I bought just in time), but probably the biggest one will be that before if you had properties over here worth under $5m pesos you did not need to pay tax. For example, if you had 4 properties worth $4m pesos each then you wouldn’t have to pay any taxes. However, as I understand it (I could be wrong) now they are changing that to your collective properties worth i.e. 4 houses at $4m Pesos = $16m pesos. The first $5m pesos is tax free but now this person would have to pay 1% tax a year on $11m pesos of that…
Another is that the ITBIS is going up from 16% to 18% which I think is pretty high for a developing country.
Another one that got me was the car tax, now the tax is 1% of your cars value each year. Might not seem so bad but its the governments appraised value – not the purchase price which screws me as they say mine is worth almost double what I paid for it! If they just put an end to all the ‘waste’ that goes on in the government they wouldn’t need to raise anything.
Now I had promised myself I would start working through a long list of things that I need to get done – not house related. Top of that is to finally register my car, six months on I am almost there! Katherine’s dad came along with me (did I mention it’s awesome having a lawyer in the family?) and told me to meet him at the local office in Santo Domingo at 7am. I did think that was early and but I found at why… even at this time there was at least 50 cars ahead of me in line. Basically you have to wait until one of the workers comes to check all your paperwork against the VIN numbers on the car to ensure it is all legit – to be fair the office doesn’t open until 8:30am and I was seen at 9am so it wasn’t that bad – I got told if you come later it takes a lot longer. They then give you a slip