You know how you think some things are so obvious you can't grasp why the other side doesn't see it? I get this feeling sometimes being the go-between my American clients and the Israeli building world. You know what, let's be honest, I sometimes get the same feeling communicating between myself and my clients.
When you set out to build a home you come with your habits, your standards, your preconceptions and perhaps knowledge of how things are done. And then- suprise!- it turns out these collide with the standards, knowledge and preconceptions that are so common here in Israel.
Here are five very common points-of-difference:
- What are those wires hanging down from my ceiling?
When you order a lighting point from your kablan (builder) you are expecting something finished looking like this:
Only to discover you got this:
You are expected to purchase and install your own light fixtures.
- What do you mean when you say "closet"?
Americans usually mean a niche, surrounded by walls and closed off with a door, similar to a bedroom door. In Israel we mean a box with doors, built by a carpenter and placed against a wall or in a niche.
- While we are on the closet topic: My American clients always expect the apartment to come with built in closets. Refer back to #1- you are expected to put in your own closets. The apartments come bare.
- Air conditioning: this is a very sore subject…First of all, in Israel the AC's are set to 19-24 degrees Celsius (66-75 Fahrenheit), 19 considered very cold, 22 about the average setting. Americans love 16 degrees! (60F). No AC supplier here plans for that, so make sure to be specific about your preferences. Next comes the bathroom issue. Israelis do not put an AC vent in the bathroom. We won't go into the reasons, but it is really considered unacceptable. The AC guy will fight you on this persistently- unless he's used to working with Americans. He has his professional reasons, don't underestimate them, but there are solutions and ways to do this well, so don't give up. Last point worth mentioning is that when we here, in Israel, say air conditioning we mean heating too. The same units serve for heating in the winter and cooling in the summer (yay!).
- Payments: have you ever gone shopping in Israel? The most common question here is " How many tashlumim?" (payments/installments) Everyone here pays in "tashlumim". But when Israelis say payments they don't mean: "come back once a month to give me another part", they mean: "I'll charge everything on your card now but it will come off your account in x parts". This is an arrangement with the credit card companies that does not exist with American cards. So if you want to work "Israeli style" on the payment issues you might need an Israeli card.
Being aware of these differences makes life so much easier; Whether it's being warned in advance of things that will be different, or actually narrowing the gap by making sure things are done the "American" way- knowledge is power to do good and save aggravation!
If you've gone through buying or renovating an apartment in Israel I'm sure you have some stories to tell (some funny, some sad…) and points to add to this post- please write to us!
more to come on this topic in future posts…
Creating spaces people want to live in