20 Important Points To Check Before Buying a Bali Property
Viewing a Bali property can be exciting but it’s easy to forget to check all the essential details. Make sure you ask the key questions when you inspect the property. It’s essential that you make the most of a property viewing to ensure that you’re as well informed as you possibly can be before making an offer.
We’ve identified 20 important points to check out when planning to buy a property in Bali.
- Villa Size / Land Size
- Soil Characteristics
- Access Road
- Land Certificate
- Land Use Restrictions / Zoning
- Community Relations
- Water Supply
- Telecommunications / Internet
- Building Materials
- Natural Orientation and Views
- Swimming Pool
- Construction & Building Taxes / Licenses
- Ensure that you deal with experienced, reputable property specialists
Location is usually one of the first decisions you will make when you start hunting for a property. Whether for residence or as investment, you will choose the best location that suits your own preferences and needs. Once you have decided on a location or locations, it’s a good idea to look at properties in and around the area to see how much and what type of development is taking place.
It’s also a good idea to find out any future plans for the area, like new hotel or shopping precincts.
Currently, areas like Bukit and Canggu are very popular for villa development, since areas like Kuta, Legian, Seminyak or Sanur have rapidly commercialized. Different factors are to be taken into consideration like exceptional ocean views or rice field views, proximity to the beach, shopping and restaurant areas, schools, hospitals and airport…etc.
Experience shows that every type of villa (which commonly range in size from two to six bedrooms) has its own markets. Smaller villas are easier to rent in town. The further away holidaymakers go from urban attractions, the bigger the villa they tend to prefer.
If your plot of land is substantial, you may consider building two (or more) smaller villas on the property. Each should be completely self-contained and offer separate garden, pool and entrance way. This will give you greater rental flexibility.
The other alternative for larger properties, especially those that are further from town, is to build a “destination” villa.
This is a villa with such a high-level of facilities and service – and with a food and beverage service to rival a 5-star hotel – that guests don’t feel the need to routinely leave the property for daily activities or to dine out.
Large properties are also ideal as venues for functions – such as weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, theme parties, or corporate offsites and, depending on what you are trying to achieve with your market positioning, this should be considered in your architectural mandate.
Soil tests are very important for anyone wishing to construct a building. You see, the most important part of any building is, in fact, the part you cannot see, the bit under the ground, the foundations. The larger the building the more important this is.
Depending on the size of the villa and the characteristics of the terrain where it is located, it might be advisable to implement a “Soil Investigation Analysis” to determine the soil characteristics and to confirm the most suitable design for the foundations and structure. This is of particular importance in the case of soft soil like in wetlands or rice field areas.
If needed, we can recommend a soil analysis service here in Bali.
Make sure you have full legal access to the land so that the road/lane that joins your villa with the main road is actually a public way and not privately owned. Size and condition of the access road is also a very important consideration.
If you’re buying with renting in mind, being within a reasonable driving distance of dining out, shopping, entertainment and recreational activities is essential.
You should also be certain that the access road leading to your villa is adequate. Many lanes are too narrow for cars to park along them as well as letting other cars pass.
Check that your quiet little street is actually quiet 24 hours a day. Some secondary streets and lanes turn into a flood of traffic at the morning and evening rush hours.
Ascertain that the lane that joins your villa with the main road is actually a public thoroughfare. Some of these lanes are privately owned, so do not necessarily assume that you may use it for access.
If your property is in close proximity to a temple, be aware that on ceremony days, your street, or streets leading to it, may be blocked entirely by temple activities such as processions or by visitors to the temple parking wherever they feel like.
Check the documents that link you to the land certificate and make sure the land actually matches the land certificate. You also have to make sure that the land location and boundary actually matches the land certificate.
There are also other aspect that you need to check regarding land certificate. You can check the land certificate and related purchase documents with a recognized Notary or Lawyer (who should not be the same one as the seller).
It is also essential to check that you can get the Building Permit (IMB) and that the land is in the correct zoning prior to the purchase, to make sure there are no restrictions that might compromise the building of your villa.
Some people have bought land which has been gazetted as Green Belt or zoned agricultural and have been unable to build.
Licensing and zoning are both considerations for existing properties and unbuilt land. If you acquire a residential property and wish to do commercial rentals at some point in the future, you’d best check if that’s allowed.
In addition, you need to be aware that you may not be able to build if your proposed building is taller than a nearby temple.
It is essential that you have your legal counsel check your property for restrictions of this nature.
“Setbacks” In land use, is the distance which a building or other structure is set back from a street or road, a river or other stream, a cliff, shore or flood-plain, or any other place which is deemed to need protection. Depending on the jurisdiction in the area, other things like fences landscaping, septic tanks and various potential hazards or nuisances might be regulated. Setbacks are generally set in a municipal ordinance or zoning. Setbacks may apply to both the exterior of the sidings or the roof edges.
There are also setback requirements to building near a temple/holy site. It is in your best interest to confer with the local ‘Banjar’(council) to seek permission from the head of the village to build before you go ahead with any building project.
Every Balinese village or community is made up of one or more Banjars. This is a type of community council which protects the traditions of the area and carries out community work and social welfare services.
The Banjar´s decisions are quite autonomous so it is very important to keep the Banjar informed about the villa development and establish a harmonious relationship right from the beginning.
Many western owners who are on the island for extended periods of time, become popular and well liked members of the banjar, especially those that take part in community activities and ceremonies or extend a bit of financial support for such.
However, a few Banjar’s, or officials within a Banjar, have a reputation for being difficult. It may be useful for you to enlist the aid of a knowledgeable person to find out if there are any particular peculiarities you should know about before you move into a Banjar’s district.
For this, it is advisable to be assisted by a Balinese person who understands local Community dynamics.
Check if connection to the public local Water Supply Company PDAM is available in the area. If not available, the other options are to install a deep well for water supply (deep enough to avoid water table fluctuations between dry and rainy season, and also contamination from badly constructed septic tanks nearby) or water supply with water-truck to your villa´s storage tank.
In addition, while many villas have water towers, the piping is of such a narrow gauge that water pressure in the bathroom is not up to the average westerner’s expectations. This means that a smaller pump, secondary to the pump which raises the water from the bore to the water tower has to be fitted to maintain adequate water pressure.
Another point to consider is that these pumps rely on electricity and that Bali is subject to occasional all-day power outages while line maintenance is carried out, as well as relatively frequent temporary outages.
Until the electricity returns, without a generator, you may find yourself out of water as well. This is not acceptable in a rental situation, nor particularly welcomed in a residential one.
We advise you to get the assistance of a building surveyor to ascertain the condition of any well or pumps on the property that you have your eye on.
It is very important to check the existence of the electrical grid in the area and ensure there is electrical connection with the National Electricity Company (PLN). The price for such connection will depend on the distance to the grid and the required power capacity. If no local grid is available, the other options are to use a generator and/or rely on renewable energy sources.
Because of the substantial upgrading in electricity reticulation that’s occurring in the densely populated south, power outages for maintenance or upgrading purposes are commonplace.
Accidental outages occur too, like in many countries, especially those caused by lightning strikes on transmission lines or substations. These seldom last very long.
Voltage drop-outs and surges can occur too. These can seriously damage sensitive electronic equipment such as computers.
Many people get around these problems by installing large voltage regulators and surge protectors at the point where the power enters the premises.
Others protect individual electrical appliances with smaller versions of the same equipment.
Check the land condition and the existing surface water runoff drainage options in the area (like drainage channel adjoining the road, proximity to surface water runoff discharge points like rivers or streams, etc..). In the rain season, many areas are subject to flooding due to the combined rapid building development with the lack of proper storm water runoff drainage planning.
Check there is cell phone coverage, availability of fixed lines phones, and broadband internet access (fiber optic or wireless) because all will be relevant to owners and their guests.
Cellular phone providers have almost total island-wide coverage.
Internet coverage on the island is improving rapidly. The national telephone company offers a relatively high speed internet service; a 4G connection via the cell phone network is available; satellite connections are provided by a number of companies.
True broadband using fibre optic cables is currently available in some main areas such as: Seminyak, Canggu, Jimbaran, Sanur and Nusa Dua.
Much of the soil in Bali is incredibly fertile and plants and shrubs grow quickly and easily. If your area does not have particularly good soil, it can be purchased by the truck load at very little cost.
A number of competent and creative landscaping companies are available to plan and maintain your garden.
First of all, you must get professional advice in this area.
A professional and competent building surveyor will assess the building, starting with its structural integrity as well as covering ancillary areas such as electrical systems and equipment, plumbing, drainage, pest infestation, etc.
That said, these days more and more western-style and western standard building materials are available.
Older homes require investigative structural surveys. It is beyond the scope of this document to list every possible fault which may be present in an older home. Your building surveyor will know what to look for.
If your dream villa has a lot of wood in its construction, you need to check for insect infestation.
Termites are widespread and can cause a large amount of damage over time, as well as making dust throughout the house.
Rats may have colonised your ceiling spaces. Generally these are paddy rats rather than the disease ridden ship rat found in the cities.
To ascertain the amount of damage termites have done, if any, you need to get professional input from a building surveyor.
Extermination companies can deal with all kinds of household pests, but may not offer a completely unbiased account of your potential problems. It’s better if this task is left to your building surveyor.
Owning a villa on or near the beach is usually most desirable, but it’s wise if you actually visit the beach throughout the range of tides so you get a clear idea of what it’s really like.
Some beaches may be great for surfing but because they have unpredictable currents, they may be dangerous for all but the most experienced swimmer.
High tide might render the beach impassable, and at the new and full moons, the tide might be so high that the waves actually wash over your garden, taking your prized shrubs with them on the way back out.
Sea air, which is laden with salt, is extremely damaging to timber, paintwork, fixtures, fittings and appliances of all kinds. Marine-grade paints, finishes, fittings and appliances should be utilised, where possible, otherwise maintenance will be constant and expensive. If you are considering buying a new or existing beachfront villa, it is advisable for you to specifically task a building surveyor to check the property’s degree of marine proofing.
In many western countries, homes with a northerly aspect are favoured as they catch the sun from morning until evening. This is less desirable in Bali, since it results in heat build-up within the house.
Many people prefer an easterly or westerly aspect to catch the sunrise or sunset, but this depends on the site’s elevation.
A villa can be built on a hill, cliff-top, beachfront, with sea or rice field views, it all depends on your preferences. It is important to check the development plans for the land located nearby your villa to make sure it will not impact on your lifestyle or the rentability of your villa.
A villa built on a hill, cliff-top, or beachfront has a number of advantages: it will catch the prevailing winds, keeping it cool and well aired; and it will provide views that will be difficult to build-out. Development in Bali has been so rapid that villas which enjoyed unimpeded rice field views when they were bought only a few years ago, are now surrounded by neighbours.
Be aware that it is time consuming and costly to make changes to an existing pool, beyond changing the tiles or painting the interior a different colour. Changes to the shape of the pool are almost impossible.
Check that the pool does not leak. Cracks are very hard to patch successfully and repair generally requires re-pouring.
Have an experienced person check the pumps and filtration system. Many pools have been equipped with inadequate pumps for the size of the pool and they wear out quickly. Replacements are expensive.
Whether you have built yourself, or bought an existing home, you need to make sure that the relevant construction taxes (PPn) have been paid.
This is supposed to be the responsibility of the building contractor or developer. However it is a widely abused system. Bureaucracy works particularly slowly in Bali, and by the time an official arrives at your home to tell you that the tax has not been paid, it might be very difficult for you to track down the construction company. In cases like this, you, as owner, have the legal responsibility to pay.
If you are intending to rent your property, you will need a Pondok Wisata license (rental license). If you are buying an existing place that is already operating as a rental villa, you must check that a license exists. Some people have been “flying under the radar” but the tax authorities have become more sophisticated and thorough in tracking down unlicensed properties.
There are literally dozens of real estate offices in Bali – the vast majority having sprung up in the last few years.
When it comes to buying property in Bali, there is no substitute for experience and a first-class reputation.
Paradise Property Group is Bali’s acknowledged leading real estate firm. We are always ready to provide references from individuals, corporate clients, investors and developers located within Indonesia and abroad, whose investments we have structured and secured and who we continue to have a longstanding rapport with.
We are now celebrating over 14 years of commitment to this market. We will not compromise our reputation and we will not cut corners or work with unethical people.