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RENOVATION in Budapest is full of surprises.

teresa butten :

you take your car in for a service,and the man says that will cost 50pounds,do you think wow that will take him two mins,thats expensive

There is a Hungarian joke about this. It goes like this (using your example and currency):

A customer comes to a mechanic with a terrible sounding engine. The mechanic simply taps the engine with a small hammer, the engine runs smooth again, and it is fixed. The bill to the customer:

- 1 Pound to tap the engine with the hammer
- 49 Pounds to know where

Still looking for reliable contractor in Budapest. Englsih and references would be two necessary conditions.

spam : removed

helenward :

danteengineering.com

I agree with everything you wrote. Including getting a structural engineer to review your house to be renovated.  :top:

But not sure an engineer firm in Denver Colorado is much help in Hungary. :unsure

It's a spam bot post, hence broken English and first post ever on this board. Admin should ban this account.

Hi everyone,

I'm new to the forum but you seem to know your stuff when it comes to renovations so perhaps you can help me! I'm thinking of buying a flat in Budapest, and this flat doesn't seem to have had the electrics renovated. However, I can't be sure and the owner doesn't seem to know (she didn't do it but thinks maybe the person who owned it before her did - that was 4 years ago).

Is there a way to tell whether the electrics are new or old? Some flats I've looked at, it's obvious the electrics are old, but this one, the plug sockets seem ok, wiring is chased in, light switches aren't really old. So I'm just not sure.

What is the deciding factor as to whether you have the electrics in a flat renovated? I thought maybe new legislation or safety standards?

Finally, does anyone have experience with the cost of electrical renovation, I know it depends on the size of the flat, number of sockets etc, but a rough price per m2 would be really useful.

Many thanks for your help

BG101 :

electrics renovated

fluffy2560 is the "go to man" for any electrical topic here at this forum. I do not think he has replied to this thread yet, so if he does not find your question here, suggest you might consider top posting your question as a new forum topic, or to private message him.

Open one of the sockets with the screwdriver, look at wires terminations (naked wire contacts) . If you see that naked wires are all copper, you are good on wiring front. If you see aluminium wire or mixed some aluminium some copper you need rewiring. Also look at the circuit-breaker , obviously if you have ceramic fuses you are due for reno. Check the number of high voltage appliances in apartment. Electric kettles, washer/drier , dishwasher, boiler, any A/C units. You can judge by equipment in the apartment if it has sufficient electrical board. I paid 20EU/m2 for my electrical work including all new hidden wiring, chandelier hooks, switches, plastering of the walls afterwards and new board.

Erzs :

MOHCTEP,

Did you ever find a contractor/painter? I am also from NY and we just bought an apartment in Budapest. We will be doing cosmetic changes this year as well (saving a bigger renovation for a year or two). I am very interested if you found a reliable painter.

Thank you,
Erzsebet

If you are in NY and available to talk by phone, that would be great.

I know a contractor who does good painting work with good price. I can give his contact if you need. We hire him for our office and then our new flat and he and his team did a good job for us.

Many thanks MOHCTEP, really useful. Do you happen to know about window frame renovations, and how bad the frames need to be before you have to get entire new frames? I'm hoping the windows in the flat I'm looking to purchase can be refurbished, but have no idea how much this might cost in comparison to new frames.

It depends, If your windows are very tall or unusual shape arch-shaped then new windows will be expensive. I would ask for both quotes. Personally I renovated my frames the wood they have used 100 years ago is all slow-grown and of very high quality. If you see black rotten parts that cannot be restrored the carpenter might be able to replace them. Then you have to decide whether you want just new slightly thicker glass or you want double glazed frames. For heat effcient double-glazed frames you need to have enough thickness in your window frames (I am guessing at least 3cm), so ask your contractor to check that measurement. When buying apartment in bad shape substract the estimate from the asking price plus 5%. I would not pay more than 900EUR /m2 unless you r in love with that place.

Thanks so much MOHCTEP, your post was really useful. Still searching for the right flat....hopefully I'll find it soon.

Hello everyone. I m new in the forum in fact. Actually, we ve bought with my girlfriend a flat in Budapest. We don't really live here but we come often as we are flight attendants and we ve got the possibility to come easily.
We are planning to "build" a new bathroom in our flat and also a kitchen but we are a little bit lost because we don t have any recommandation to be able to do it. Does somebody have a good contractor who could help us?Thank you in advance for your help. See you;,)

I am retired builder   renovator from the  south of France.


I came here in 1990

There is no such thing as cheap labour.

Decorating an old Budapest appartement is specialist
Work.

The plaster may be shot.. ie you may have to replaster
the walls  before painting or wallpapering.

Also have you checked electricity and plumbing?? And gas
and proper flue vents for gas. There are new regulations

My family have done up many appartements.
even the smartest guys only get 5 percent return on rental.

If the plaster is bad..the old plaster is slightly different
from new plaster.  You might be better to cover the walls with wood pannelling.

Even if plaster is old but good. You will have enormous
problems fitting  rawplugs  ..  curtain rods..  kitchen cabinets.. etc.

You will have to drill larger holes . Then fill with mastic.
then drill again. To hand items off the wall.

Rawplugs  dont  hold in the walls..

Be carefull they dont put paint on glass..!!it is a hell of a job
to get off....watch your parquet..by the time it has had paint
and plaster on it.it will need sanding..again  ..and re treating..

Bon courage

I too have had a hard time finding cheaper people to work on my apartment in Budapest. rule number one is have a friend negotiate the price in Hungarian,with absolutely no trace of foreigner in the conversation if possible, as they think all Americans are Bill Gates.I speak fluent Hungarian but I have an American accent so it doesn't work very well for these negotiations. They also seem to want to make an entire career out of your apartment renovation. So if I want just a simple paint job with minor plaster repairs they think they need to do an entire tear down and replaster. I ended up doing one of the rooms myself but this time I don't want to be up and down the ladder a thousand times like I was last winter. I was joking with a friend that I could get a Latin American guy from my Los Angeles Home Depot, they hang around outside waiting for work, and fly him to Hungary and back and still have cheaper labor then getting it done there. Its a joke.
this summer I might try placing some help wanted ads in the local internet placement center and see if I can get somebody that way.jófogás.hu is good.
I'm trying to think why the situation is like it is. In America it's cheap to get jobs done by placing an ad in Craigslist for gigs wanted. I placed an ad for some yard cleanup and next day got at least 20 responses with about a third of them being very reasonable. Nothing like that in Hungary. Why is it so hard in this country, where the wages of $1,000 a month or for an engineer but for home renovation it seems they want triple that.

lesd :

I ended up doing one of the rooms myself but this time I don't want to be up and down the ladder a thousand times like I was last winter.

A skilled laborer gets the "big money" because they have developed skills. Such as using an 'A' shaped ladder, straddle the apex and walk around the room using the ladder as stilts, thus avoiding multiple trips up and down the ladder.

Until one gains similar skills, it takes longer to do it yourself, and one must self consider if your time is better spent earning money to pay someone else or not**. Of course one can try to stilt walk a ladder, and maybe fall and break your neck. Just some of the issues one finds with do.it-yourself.

** Unless you simply like to scratch the creative urge like me.

lesd :

I'm trying to think why the situation is like it is. In America it's cheap to get jobs done by placing an ad in Craigslist for gigs wanted. I placed an ad for some yard cleanup and next day got at least 20 responses with about a third of them being very reasonable. Nothing like that in Hungary. Why is it so hard in this country, where the wages of $1,000 a month or for an engineer but for home renovation it seems they want triple that.

Neither my general contractor nor any of his workers carry a smart phone. And if I need to get some renovation done that is beyond my skill level or time limits, we call. Email is not really an option. So one can not assume laborers (especially the less expensive ones) will check for on-line job offers or post them. Not only that, but once someone advertises or inquires on-line about work they may come under the radar of the tax authority. And then if they do not charge you 45% more to pay their social and income tax, and then on top of that 27% VAT both you and them might end up being fined heavily. Of course, not advocating avoiding paying taxes, and one should pay those taxes and get a receipt. Rather pointing out many Hungarians do it cheaper amongst themselves than a foreigner may be able to do, as they spend a great deal of effort to stay under the radar.

Another issue is that a lot of manual labor jobs in Hungary are gained via interpersonal networks. If you want cheaper contractors, you do not use the Internet. You have to "know a guy". That is, you hire your neighbor's, cousin's husband who is a plasterer to do the work. You do not advertise or hire the big companies that advertise as you are then paying for their advertising costs.

One must also expect anything in Budapest will cost more. Consider finding a non-Budapest contractor for larger jobs (it has to be a larger job to make it worth while for them to bother coming into Budapest) and they may cost less. Again, seek out an interpersonal relationship to find such a contractor.

Having such personal contacts helps. For example, when I had to get an electrician in the US or Switzerland I was charged just to have them make the house call. Had an electrician come by recently here in Hungary just to check some wiring and he was here 10 minutes, found nothing wrong and refused to take any payment (I did give him a bottle of wine however). He came out because he was recommend by someone my wife knows. Relationships. They count in Hungary.

One of the first Hungarian novels my wife gave me to read was Rokonok (Relations) by Zsigmond Móricz.  A lot of each country's culture can be found in it's literature. If you want to understand Hungarian society, up through the top leaderships in politics, Relations is a good read.

Hi Frida!

I'm actually looking for a respectable crew that would undertake a larger renovation (932m2 office space renovation). I realize this was posted a long time ago, however if you still have your crew's contact info, and think they would be interested -- would you please pass it along?

Thank you!

Reka

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I am looking for professional quality carpenter to build a few custom furniture pieces and small doors in my apartment. Overall 2 large cabinets and 2 sets of doors (4 all together). The site is in Budapest , Muzeum korut.

MOHCTEP :

I am looking for professional quality carpenter to build a few custom furniture pieces and small doors in my apartment. Overall 2 large cabinets and 2 sets of doors (4 all together). The site is in Budapest , Muzeum korut.

I contacted both custom carpenters and local door companies, and all could make custom doors. But they were all very expensive.

In the end, we went with "Obi" doors in the house simply due to price and they were "good enough" for in the house. Yes, we had to make a few adjustments to the door spaced, but that was far, far cheaper and easier to do than getting a custom door.

I only had to use a private carpenter with the cellar doors simply because the door space was not of a standard size and I had some very specific needs for these doors. Even so, the custom doors were very expensive.

One less expensive option on hand made doors is just to make a simple batten door. So ask about the price for such a door versus a conventional "modern" framed door:

http://www.dorothyainsworth.com/batten/doors.shtml

One of the custom doors I had build is basically a batten door, and it was much cheaper,

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