St. Croix Ocean Vista Guest Cottage Rental

We finally have our guest cottage available for vacation rentals.  Our first renters are arriving from Georgia this weekend.  If you are interested in coming to visit St. Croix, and you should be, then consider staying at our cottage.  Sorry, no kids, and no smokers, but our rates are great.

 Check out the details on VRBO


 

House Hunters International on HGTV – St. Croix

I should have posted on here that our show was airing on June 12th, but forgot.  Sorry.  So for those that have not seen it and want to, our episode is airing again on July 27th at 11pm.

Here is the link to showtimes: http://www.hgtv.com/house-hunters-international/a-caribbean-quandary/index.html

Chad, Emily, and Alexandra Bentley

 

Solar Electric System – Finally online

Eco-Innovations (see update at bottom of post) installed 13 panels in December.  They wired us up in early January.   In early February, DPNR came out to do their inspection.  DPNR finally signed off on our system in early May.  Paperwork immediately handed to WAPA.  WAPA engineers finally came out to inspect this week.  Yesterday they changed out my meter so I can send the energy I produce back into the grid.  After nearly eight months I finally flipped on my panels for the first time this morning.

You can see my system here: https://enlighten.enphaseenergy.com/public/systems/Ab6g68379

Solar Panels installed 12/15/2011

 

Net+Metering+Flow+Chart+WAPA

I found this net metering flow chart on the WAPA website. It gives you an idea of the complexity of the permitting process.

Update 2014:
When choosing a solar provider here in the USVI do keep in mind that the company mentioned above disappears after the install and is unreachable should you have any issues.

We Are In The House

As always, this post arrives a bit late.  We moved in 4 weeks ago.  It was probably a mistake as it has been a bit stressful trying to do “work work” while people around me are doing “house work”.  But each day we are getting closer to having all the essentials completed.  All the interior doors are up and the trim should be completed in the next few days.  We had to build all our door frames because of all the crazy sizes.  All counter-tops, vanities, and sinks are in except for the powder room.  We are still waiting on some things from the Marble Shop out of San Juan that really should have shipped 2 months ago.  It has been extremely difficult to work with them and I won’t recommend them to anyone. The AC units are finally all in. Not all functional yet, but all installed.  They started installation in December and proceeded to come work on them in one hour increments since.  I don’t get it.   Main kitchen cabinets, same thing.  They started before Thanksgiving and we still have a few drawers that don’t function as they should.  The company seems to send a different worker each time they come out.

After finishing our pool we found we had a leak.  The concrete work wasn’t done properly around the skimmer, so we had to remove all the tiles from that area, rework the concrete, apply a sealant, and re-tile.  My pool guy does a decent job….when he shows up.

The house is a bit of a mess at the moment.  Boxes everywhere.  Dust everywhere.  Dust dust dust.  Everywhere.  Fun stuff.

We put in for our final inspections last Tuesday.  The plumbing inspector came out that same day.  Structural and CZM (Coastal Zone Management) both came out Wednesday.  We are now just waiting on electrical inspection.  By getting our Certificate of Occupancy we can move off of the construction electric rates, turn on our solar panels, and move off of our construction loan to our 30-year loan.

The dogs and cat have settled in well.  Besides the barking at all the people in and out of the house all day, they do seem to enjoy it here.  We don’t have a front gate yet so I can’t let them out in the big yard without supervision, but they have the fenced back area for the time being.

Our first guests (my mother and her friend Deb) arrive next Wednesday.  Unfortunately it doesn’t appear that the furniture is going to arrive on time for the guest house.  Sorry Mom. 🙂

Front Door Finally Completed

Front Door Finally Completed. Some grass growing.

 

Our newly planted Christmas Palm Trees

Our newly planted Christmas Palm Trees (and newly planted grass)

Kitchen

Kitchen

The dogs enjoy the deck

The dogs enjoy the deck

 

Pelicans

Pelicans have been cruising by my office window non-stop the past two weeks and dive-bombing for their meals right in front of the house.

 

 

Moving in on Friday

I kept telling myself that we weren’t moving in until we were completely finished with everything.  I didn’t want to live in the house during construction.  But, we have decided to do just that.  We aren’t far from being complete, but there are some things that will take some time.  Our interior doors and 2 of our gates arrive next week.  The granite for the main kitchen arrived today and that will hopefully be installed in the next day or two.  So as of today, we lack interior doors, countertops (everywhere), and sinks (everywhere).  We do have power, water and internet, which are all the essentials.  In the end, it made financial sense for us to do this now.

Needless to say, the stress has kicked up a notch over the past weeks.  We have had some bad experiences with some of our suppliers and some of our hired contractors.  Hired help goes missing, scheduled deliveries do not show, etc.  But soon this will be over.  One of our friends, Jouni, has been helping finish quite a few things on the house since early November.  Without him we would probably another month away from moving in.  He has helped so much.  Jouni is a jeweler by trade, but decided to take some time away from that business and has become my utility guy.  I had the hardest time trying to find somebody with experience installing garage doors.  In the end I handed it to Jouni.  He figures things out.  Thanks Jouni for alleviating some of that stress.

Also a shout out to Mike and Laura for stopping by in August and again last week on their trips to St. Croix to check on our progress.  That bottle of champagne will be opened on Friday. 🙂

I had promised to post photos from October through December when I got some time, but instead of doing that right now here are a few photos from this week.

Desperately waiting for that sigh of relief.

1/20/2012 - Emily cleaning the newly finished pool

1/20/2012 - Emily cleaning the newly finished pool

 

1/20/2012 - AC units being installed

1/20/2012 - AC units being installed

1/21/2012 - Plants

1/21/2012 - Plants

 

1/21/2012 - Front entrance

1/21/2012 - Front entrance - no grass yet, but we did plant it

 

1/23/2012 - Main living area

1/23/2012 - Main living area

 

1/23/2012 - Main living area/kitchen

1/23/2012 - Main living area/kitchen (still missing countertops and island light)

 

1/23/2012 - Yoga room

1/23/2012 - Yoga room

 

1/23/2012 - Master Closet  (missing countertop)

1/23/2012 - Master Closet (missing countertop)

 

1/23/2012 - Master Bedroom

1/23/2012 - Master Bedroom

 

1/23/2012 - Entry Way

1/23/2012 - Entry Way

1/23/2012 - Guest Bedroom

1/23/2012 - Guest Bedroom

1/23/2012 - Office

1/23/2012 - Office

 

A few older photos:

1/14/2012 - Spent a large part of two weekends getting the grey water system operational

1/14/2012 - Spent a large part of two weekends getting the grey water system operational

 

1/10/2012 - Appliance Delivery

1/10/2012 - Appliance Delivery

1/6/2012 - Rainbow from the pool

1/6/2012 - Rainbow from the pool

 

 

1/24/2012 - Water purification system, solar hot water tank, and water pump

1/24/2012 - Water purification system, solar hot water tank, and water pump

Weeks away from moving in? + September photo catch up

We are still slogging along trying to get this house finished.  We didn’t quite make Christmas, but now are shooting for mid to late January.  We have to move out of our current rental at the end of this month, so a bunch of things need to happen quickly.  The major items left to accomplish are 1) interior doors  2) vanity and guest kitchen cabinet install (scheduled for this week) 3) main house electrical fixture installs (scheduled for this week) 4) Garage Doors (still need to order), 5) granite fabrication and delivery from San Juan 6) plaster pool.   Plus tons of minor items.

Emily and I both took last week off from work and worked on the house basically for 10 straight days, usually 10 hour days.  We got a bunch accomplished.  The guest house was powered on Friday and most of the fixtures installed which was a major milestone for us.  The electrical room was also powered which means we now have running water to all the toilets, showers, and hose bibs (no sinks installed yet).

We have on average gone to Home Depot three times a week since they opened September 15th.  It has been a blessing to St. Croix, but they are having issues keeping items in stock.  The supply chain needs reworked.

We made it through hurricane season unscathed.  Hooray.

We are over budget, but not horrendously.

We used 620+ yards of concrete during construction.

We just surpassed the year mark.

Emily and I are still married and don’t have any plans of divorcing.

The US Virgin Islands soccer team didn’t fare too well in the second round losing all six of our games, 2 each to Haiti, Curacao, and Antigua & Barbuda.  But I did manage to play in 5 of the 6 games.

 

Anyway, here is a random sampling of photos from September 2011.  I will add additional photos in future posts.

9/11/2011 - Fill Dirt - Some of the 900+ yards of fill dirt we hauled in. And we had a relatively flat lot. I still don't understand.

 

9/11/2011 - Still staining cypress, almost done.

9/15/2011 - Home Depot arrives and changes our purchasing habits dramatically

 

September 2011 - Our plumbers Frenchie and Pete

September 2011 - Guest house roof work

September 2011 - Drywall work begins

September 2011 - Plaster work on guest house and garage

September 2011 - Plaster work on guest house interior

September 2011 - This trailer hadn't been moved in 9 months

September 2011 - What we looked like at the end of September

September 2011 - Future walkway and yard