My client wanted to purchase an apartment in a particular building in Jerusalem’s lovely Talbieh community but had no interest in doing renovations. “Find me a renovated 3-bedroom apartment in this building and I’ll purchase it immediately,” was his directive. We canvassed the entire building numerous times, but unfortunately no such apartment came onto the market for two years. Finally, a 3-bedroom unit became available for sale but, alas, it required a complete renovation. I called the client and explained that an apartment with lovely views just came onto the market at a fair price but it needed work. His initial response was that the deal was not for him.
I explained that my partner Eliezer Goldberg has a zoning and building permit company called Heter, which employs six architects and two expediters. As he is well-connected in the construction industry, I reasoned, we can hire a good kablan (contractor) and a project manager to oversee the construction. He surprisingly responded, “I have two words for you: Shalom Bayit,” and explained that they recently renovated their home in the US and it caused his family so much tension that he didn’t want to undertake such a project again. We agreed that he would think about it over the weekend and that I would follow up with him a few days later.
Many people who want to purchase an apartment find themselves in a similar predicament, as most of Jerusalem’s centrally located neighborhoods were developed years ago and the original apartments, now somewhat dated, need to be renovated. They adore these charming neighborhoods but would rather not endure the challenges associated with renovating a home from afar.
Talbieh, Jerusalem (Photo: Gedaliah Borvick)
Let’s discuss the role of a construction project manager and how this person can alleviate many of the stresses that arise during the renovation. Simply put, project managers oversee the construction process and make sure that the contractor (1) finishes the project (2) on schedule and (3) within the agreed upon budget, without additional surprise expenses.
A good project manager will make sure that any issues that were inadvertently omitted in the construction contract will not be overlooked, such as the quality of the building materials. In addition, the project manager will inspect all materials to ensure that you get what you paid for.
The construction manager will interface with the kablan on a daily basis to ensure that the project is moving forward on schedule and that all unresolved issues are being properly addressed. With larger projects (more than just a cosmetic makeover), we have found that having a professional oversee the construction process is a worthwhile investment. Often, an architect or designer will serve in this capacity, so it’s important from the outset to determine what services the architect offers, and whether you want that person to serve as your project manager.
We look at a construction manager as an insurance policy, who will hopefully prevent expensive complications and aggravation. Based on our experience, hiring a good construction manager is a worthwhile investment, and can help turn a renovation or construction project into, dare I say, a pleasant experience.
Returning to the story at the beginning of this article, our client reconsidered and purchased the apartment. Fortunately, the renovation process went smoothly, thanks to the excellent construction project manager and seasoned kablan, whom we helped him choose. I am pleased to report that the renovated apartment is absolutely beautiful, and is being immensely enjoyed by our client and his family.
Gedaliah Borvick is the founder of My Israel Home (www.myisraelhome.com), a real estate agency focused on helping people from abroad buy and sell homes in Israel. To sign up for his monthly market updates, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.