The Remont Guy
When Jaime Hunt moved to Moscow nine years ago, he joined a growing number of expatriate entrepreneurs who wanted to explore new opportunities in Russia. Some initially intended to stay for just a year or two, others longer, but almost all found one thing to be true: the interiors of the Russian apartments they moved into were nothing to write home about. With the real estate market exploding, Jaime saw an opportunity to bring western renovation techniques to Russia and provide expats — and some Russians — with cozy, comfortable havens from Moscow’s early-1990s chaos. And despite obstacles — during the cash shortage following the August ’98 crisis, Jaime carried in dollars from abroad — he’s stayed. And that has made many Moscow homeowners very happy. In construction, Jaime has seen it all. Moscow has been transformed from a dreary city to a modern metropolis, the quality of buildings being built has improved and interiors have gone from Soviet shab to modern chic.
by Elizabeth Buchanan
You’re from Florida. What brought you to Russia, and how did you end up being the contractor of choice for so many of Moscow’s well-heeled homeowners?
The gray winter and the challenge of living in a foreign land. The ability to explain the Russian renovation process and what it entails.
In what way have things changed most in your line of work over the last decade?
The improvements in construction materials and the increase in quality of labor.
What is your favorite building in Moscow?
Dom Serafimovicha, because of the secret elevator shafts.
What is the most outrageous request you’ve ever gotten from a client (bearing in mind that this is a family magazine)?
Installation of a snow machine for when you get out of the banya.
Are there any trends emerging in Russian design?
What are some of the must-have gadgets and toys that your clients are requesting for their homes these days?
Steam showers, smart houses, BIG fish tanks, central vacuuming systems, in line humidifiers, water meters and electric stabilizers!
What is your favorite room in your own home and why?
My office/study, because it’s a total escape from Russia – everything imported from home.
What do you like most about your job?
Being invited back to the house-warming party. The client tells you about all the problems and the guests tell you how wonderful everything is.
If someone told you that you had to leave Russia tomorrow, what would you do today?
Pack and try to explain to my kids that they’re not Russian!
Any advice for Vladimir Putin?
Keep on trucking.