Indonesian Houses

Dec 3rd, 2007, in Opinion, by

Some of the pitfalls in owning an Indonesian house.

Having purchased a new house in Indonesia, I have needlessly brought endless frustration upon myself.

I have no complaints about my neighbours or the locality. On the contrary, the people are friendly and the surroundings comfortable. Those fill one part of my wish list.

However, it becomes a nightmare with regards to two essentials namely, electricity and water supply.

Water Supply

The house receives its City Council water supply via a PVC pipe. Water is scheduled to run on alternate days for about three hours in the morning. I could go along with the alternate day supply provided it is upheld.

The short 3 hours forced me to double the number of water pumps so that it would ensure as much water is pumped into the storage tanks before time runs out.

Despite all that being done, the sad reality is that the water is supplied in a bewildering and uncoordinated fashion. There are repeated occurrences when the house is without water supply for as long as 7 to 10 continuous days.

Not even by doubling the water storage tanks or having to resort to a dukun to incant for rain would alleviate this dire situation.

Of course it is not all that bad. There are those bewildering surprises too. It is when the water is supplied while there is a torrential downpour. Great!

I sometimes wonder whether the City Council water supply officer is in cahoots with the private water supply company. In extreme need my only solution is to purchase water from the private water company at Rp.60,000 for a thousand liters. It is like buying gold!

Water cleanliness

Whether it be City Council water supplied from the main pipe or water purchased from the private water supply company, the quality of water leaves much to be desired.

Owing to the poor quality of water, there are 18 water filters that have been installed all over the house. The filters have to be changed every 4 to 6 days. Fortunately, I am able to buy the filters at a low price from a friend who runs a water filter business back in my home country. He charges me USD 0.25 cents for each filter. A similar filter where the house is located in Indonesia is sold for USD3.50.

It is no surprise to me that Indonesians, especially the children, succumb to appendectomy and other ailments. The water they consume has so much organic matter. Drinking boiled water for consumption only kills bacteria but does not remove organic matter.

Electricity Supply

Compared to all my overseas travel and overseas employ, I have not experienced electric supply stoppages and irregularities as I have in Indonesia.

Hence, additional expenditure needed to install emergency lightings at critical places within the house. Even good quality emergency fluorescent electrical lights cannot withstand for long with the brownout and power surge on resumption of supply.

At the least, one might consider that would take care of the electric supply irregularity.

Not true. When the electric supply resumes, it is a matter of fate. The electronics for electric-dependent items get blown due to the initial power surge at power resumption! There goes the TV set or the Hi-Fi set or the motor of the refrigerator or the water pump/s and so on.

Hence, every time there is a power outage, it is a mini Olympics at the house - running around to dismantle the power cables from the sockets. And reconnecting power cables after supply resumes.

While all this water and electric disservice happens, there is the Koi to worry about in the two fishponds. What about the two pet rabbits? Where are the pets during the uninvited darkness?

No, the house is not located in some far off suburban area. It is three kilometers from the center of the city.

All in all, I could say that life could go on without electricity. I could limp along with paraffin lamps and hand fan myself till my arm falls off.

The importance, availability and quality of water however is something that life, let alone healthy life does not have any substitute.


23 Comments on “Indonesian Houses”

  1. avatar Janma says:

    Damn! That sucks! I am lucky not to live in a city, so I made my own well…. it’s fifty meters deep straight into a spring water supply… Yum! you can drink it straight out of the tap!
    Janma.

  2. avatar pj_bali says:

    Hi

    Sorry to hear about your water problem. I am lucky enough to have a well. Just a question – Is it not possible to install 1 water filter at the outlet to your storage tank? As for electricity you might want to consider getting a regulator installed where the electrical supply line meets your junction box. Alternately you can buy surge protectors (stavolts) to ensure that expensive items are protected.

    Best of Luck

    PJ

  3. avatar Janma says:

    oh yeah, right pj…. a stavolt. We have a huge one connected to our main electric board, so have no problems with surging, but we still have problems with the electricity dipping under 110, which makes my computer gasp and die.

  4. avatar falcon says:

    Electricity (voltage) outside Jakarta dipping bellow 110, it must be extremely bad. Voltage of 160 is like illuminating a house using candles, just image below 110, you need to buy new electrical appliances every week. No wonder there are so many repair shops. Water and electricity are very likely to worsen in the future. Hello PLN and PAM, “SANTAI AJA” must important, “salaries and monthly allowances” are credited to their accounts on a timely basis.

  5. avatar iamisaid says:

    To: Janma and pj_bali,

    Thank you for your suggestions and sympathy.

    I shall look into the surge protector by asking more about it with my electrician here.

    Regarding having a well constructed at the house, I did consider it. Problem is the surrounding houses are not more than 30 meters from any point of the perimeter of my house. I will spare you the details of how sanitation is even if it is a “modern” constructed septic tank.

    The other solution is to drill a pipe into the ground till it reaches the underground water bed and pump out the water. Problem is the people who do it charge for every meter bored into the ground till water is reached. Payment is cash at the end of each day’s or they don’t resume work the following day. You can guess where that kind of ploy ends.

    One of my neigbours did that. They bored past 30 meters into the ground and kept reporting that no water was yet to be found. My neigbour stopped the entire process after having paid USD2000.00.

    About installing a water filter to the main inlet pipe, outside the house? If I did that, it would be here today and gone tomorrow.

    I have lost a number of items to petty thieves. Can you imagine the 2 AC adapters were yanked off and these were for my handbuilt creation of electric Lotus crystal flowers that sit on each pillar of the house gate? My 2 pet Parakeets plus the lovely cage was stolen. One of my earlier pet rabbits was stolen. The brass coloured number plate for the house was removed. My Japanese sandals were stolen. The trash bin was stolen.

  6. avatar WP says:

    My 2 Parakeets … stolen. My … stolen. The brass plate … was removed. My sandals … stolen. Trash bin … stolen.

    Pat iamisaid…. Sell the house perhaps? It seems like just too much problems.

    If you’re a foreigner, new to Indonesia perhaps it is safer to stay in a well reputed real estate complex.

    On something else, I have a house in JKT I want to sell, but I’m living abroad. Has anyone suggestion as to how to handle this??

  7. avatar Masindi says:

    ‘Drinking boiled water for consumption only kills bacteria but does not remove organic matter.”

    What do you mean? The act of drinking boiled water can kill bacteria? Really? I never learned about that in school.

  8. avatar iamisaid says:

    Hi Masindi,

    You questioned: “The act of drinking boiled water can kill bacteria? Really? I never learned about that in school.”

    I quote from: http://www.waterlines.com.au/articles/watertreatmentsystems.shtml

    “Boiling

    Boiling water for three minutes kills bacteria, including disease-causing organisms and giardia cysts. However, boiling concentrates inorganic impurities such as nitrate and sulfates. Boiled water also tastes flat because the carbon dioxide is removed.”

    There are numerous other references on this matter if you do a search on the internet.

  9. avatar iamisaid says:

    Hi WP,

    Thanks for your caring suggestion.

    Despite whatever negatives that is occuring over at the house, I love the lush green surroundings.

    It is not easy to find a similar location within the city. Besides, having adorned the house with several art and handicrat of my own art, I have spent a good sum of money on the house.

  10. avatar Dragonwall says:

    Should have bought a house in Medan or Bali. Jakarta simply is being dredged by the PMA working with PLN and PAM. You get the connection but no water. You’ve got electricity connected but always overload that you need to replace bulbs all the time.
    In North jakarta the PAM come with a salty taste of filth.

  11. avatar WP says:

    It is not easy to find a similar location within the city. Besides, having adorned the house with several art and handicrat of my own art, I have spent a good sum of money on the house.

    That maybe so, but the disappearing stuffs may indicate that you’re not in safe neighbourhood. I don’t know where you are exactly, but being a foreigner safety is your number one concern. I would regard Bali to be in general safe, but Java is totally different.

  12. avatar iamisaid says:

    Hi dragonwall,

    Quote :

    “In North jakarta the PAM come with a salty taste of filth.”

    That’s horrible! I can imagine how much activated carbon filters would be needed to get rid of that kind of problem.

    Greetings once again WP,

    Quote:

    “That maybe so, but the disappearing stuffs may indicate that you’re not in safe neighbourhood.”

    Indeed it is deplorable that I have to put up with petty thiefs where the house is. The place is regularly visited by shifty eyed passers-by who are up-to-no-good. There is no satpam at entry or exit points to ensure security for the housing estate.
    I have armed the house with alarm sensors, barbed wire laid out in the rear drain, even purchased expensive trigger alarm padlocks – and yet”¦..

    My neigbours are really, really nice families. We try to keep an eye over each other’s property but these petty thieves outsmart us all the time.

    To date, there has been no serious crime committed in that area. I was told that the Chinese mafia protects the area although I have not yet been approached to pay protection money.

  13. avatar Dragonwall says:

    was told that the Chinese mafia protects the area

    In North Jakarta? I don’t think there has been any Chinese Mafia but perhaps those who group up to protect their own property that developed into a vigilante. Except in those days in Medan where people like (Anton Medan) were part of the underground mafia. In Jakarta very unlikely.

    If you buy houses in Citra Garden or Taman Surya please be careful. In the early 90s I owned various properties in Indonesia and once when we went abroad during holiday. The moment we disembarked my cell phone rings and I was told that my house was cleaned up. Imagine a place guarded by Kodim. The complex was surrounded by village houses with a big hole in the wall torn. I was told in a matter of 15 minutes when my brother in law went to the market and everything was taken. Later I found out that the RW was a thief and an ex-con. He was also responsible for the garbage disposal. So what they did was to send prowler/scout to rece the area. Once the opportunity arises they will us HT to bring their disposal truck, linggis to pry the doors and windows and a matter of minutes everything is up in the truck. They were nowhere to be found later.

    Also need to be carefull of them. I returned home early one morning around 5.30 am and by 6.15 my Kijang was nowhere to be found.
    I also had a brand new Panther but we were liberal in allowing them to bring the car wherever he wants but later the “suku cadang” were all replaced with old ones. Both the drivers quit after things happened. Inside job.

    Not just shifty eyes only. watch out for those that lingers around your house especially those who “kerja sama” with satpam/or military guard.

  14. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:

    IamIsaid,

    Why don’t you get Janma to do a few paintings for you….:-) ?? he he he. What a lady !

  15. avatar iamisaid says:

    Quote:

    “Why don’t you get Janma to do a few paintings for you”¦.:-) ?? he he he. What a lady !”

    Ha ha ha! A wee bit too late. There is no more empty wall space at the house except the bathroom.
    I went bananas with so many art pieces and other creations.

    Agree. She really is. I can’t imagine the look on that man’s face when he opened her painting. LOL.

  16. avatar iamisaid says:

    Welcome back Dragonwall,

    Quote: “In North Jakarta? I don’t think there has been any Chinese Mafia but perhaps those who group up to protect their own property that developed into a vigilante. Except in those days in Medan where people like (Anton Medan) were part of the underground mafia. In Jakarta very unlikely.”

    No, North Jakarta isn’t where the house is. I’ve been to Jakarta several times. Would not like living there although unquestionably there are more amenities there than where my house is.

    I am sorry to hear of your losses. That’s awful.

    Quote: “Later I found out that the RW was a thief and an ex-con. He was also responsible for the garbage disposal. So what they did was to send prowler/scout to rece the area. Once the opportunity arises they will us HT to bring their disposal truck, linggis to pry the doors and windows and a matter of minutes everything is up in the truck. They were nowhere to be found later.”

    Good heavens! By comparison, Pak RT and Pak RW over at my place would be saints. The only thing that they bother me every now and then is for some sumbangan which included a Volleyball for the youths in that district.
    Ah and yes, if I am brave as Janma, I ought to hand Pk. RT a few months supply of toothpaste and a tooth grinder to remove all the tartar that covers his teeth.

    Quote : “Not just shifty eyes only. watch out for those that lingers around your house especially those who “kerja sama” with satpam/or military guard.”

    Thanks. Advice well heeded.

  17. avatar Dragonwall says:

    Thanks iamisaid those were history from early 90’s with a note of precaution for most of those living in Jakarta. If you encounter such problems deal it in a manner like who is afraid of who tactic. Like a thief is afraid of police, business people afraid of crooks thos sort of thing and I am sure you would be able to overcome such ostacle.
    Those dangerous areas in Jakarta are Senen, Tanah Abang, Pademangan and Glodok where pick pockets and snatch thief are at large.
    We used to manage some very large commercial property somewhere around Kebon Sirih close to Tanah Abang that were usually preyed upon by predators.

  18. avatar Purba says:

    Dragonwall
    This is called Syukurin (just desserts) for being a thieving Chinaman- one amongst many who earn their money from the blood, sweat and tears of the pribumi- the native.
    You Chinese exploit and enslave the native, but expect no backlash?
    This is just a foretaste of event to come- the pribumi are justly enraged by such white-collar crimiinals as yourself and judgement day awaits you Yellowmen all.
    Kapitan. Purba Kesatriyo.

  19. avatar Dragonwall says:

    Saksang like you I think should prayed Dong Ani Au to you opung . Are you meaning that the Chinese had f*c*8d you so bad that you were one of them. Between Bataks and pris I thought you guys don’t even see eye to eye. But I have never heard of any Bataks being thief of thei blood, sweat and tears.
    How about your own comrade OLO in Medan, don’t you know him. He is one of the mafia there related to Panggabean.
    You yourself between Bataks also see difference in yourself. If I didn’t guess wrongly you are trying to tell me that you are preparing yourself for what you so called judgement days and make you self turn back to primitive like your name so expressly said! Poerba. Can’t even spell your name straight.
    You are no different everywhere, Hepeng terus………..

  20. avatar Dragonwall says:

    Hey Primitive Saksang, don’t just be like a f**k** jihadists throwing a bomb a ran away like a ‘yellow’.

    Chinese are not known as yellow. Do you know what the word yellow means? In the west a yellow is known as cowards.

    Let us see what you have in mind so spill your guts please.

  21. avatar Kristofer says:

    Damn mates… looks like a bucketful of woes… any info on what medan’s like.

  22. avatar John McEwen says:

    Interested in your report on Indonesian Houses.

    Could you answer the following for me:

    1. What part of Jakarta is your house?

    2. Are these typical problems across most of Indonersian cities or are their pockets of suburbs that have no problem?.

    3. Would you describe your house as being average quality or above average quality.

    My reason for questions is relating to a television progam we are considering making in Indonesia on the topic of home renovation.

    Thanks

  23. avatar Chris says:

    It seems to me that if you decide to live in a foreign country you need to accept the way things are there.
    You should probably also consider that the vast majority of Indonesians live in abject poverty and for them having clean water ever is a dream. Get real. I own several houses in the Philippines and such water and electricity issues are a fact of life. I simply thank God I am fortunate enough to be able to complain about such things while people around me die because they can’t afford health care.

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