Thursday, November 04, 2004
The window company are unable to supply their double glazed units until early next year. We have also decided that we will have to research and then install a heating system. Which may impinge on their work, as our favoured option is under floor heating of some description.
Unable to continue with any substantial work we decide to lock up the house for winter. We will go back to England and pick up where we left off in the springtime.
Plywood boarding has been used to secure the windows and doors. 19mm thick sheets have been fitted to external and internal window and door frames. This should prevent a re-occurrence of the burglary. The wooden boards block out the warming effect of the sun and the house becomes colder by the hour. Inside in the now permanent darkness it is a depressing existence.
The shine is beginning to fade on our new place in the sun.
Monday, October 25, 2004
The house is now painted and has had stone 'piedra' applied to the lower walls in keeping with the local tradition. Piedra is a type of stone facing which is decorative and also prevents the paintwork being discoloured through water splashes.
Quotes for the application of the required material ranged from 19 euros to 65 euros per square meter.
Sunday, October 24, 2004
Inside the plasterwork and coving in the lounge and dinning room are excellent. The persianna blinds are down but the windows have been left open to allow the plaster to dry. The whole house is covered in a thick layer of plaster dust. We sweep away the dust before opening the kitchen door to reveal our new state of the art kitchen; only to find that nothing has happend since September there in the kitchen are the boxes of tiles but no fittings or cabinets.
We make up the beds and after a quick wash and brush up drive into Figueres to grab a fast food meal.
On our return to the house we decide to call it a night and begin the clean up in the morning. But something is nagging. In the pantry the bottled beer reserved for occaisions like this is missing, there are a only couple of empty bottles lying around. We will have to wait for our drink, but the hot and dusty working conditions endured by the workers mean that we would not have begrudged the builders a cold drink and understand why they may of helped themselves.
Something else is missing too; the widescreen television our only luxury is also gone!
Monday, September 06, 2004
Señor M. is certain that the sequence of work for the kitchen element should be,
- removal of the old cabinets
- removal of the old tiles
- retile the walls and floor
- construction and fitting of the cabinets
- install new double glazed units for windows and doors
- complete tiling around window and door apertures
- install granite worktops
- fit appliances
- re-hang internal kitchen door
- stand back and admire his work
When we query this he is at pains to assure us that he must start work immediately if all is to go to his plan. He begins work before the ink is dry on the cheque for the deposit on the work. And within the week he has reduced the kitchen to rubble.
Sunday, September 05, 2004
The painter arrived with some samples for us to choose from, he was recommended by the owners of the specialist paint store we had visited in Figueres. The proprietors had often employed him to work on their own home. His work they said was good, he was also very clean in his methods and although not the cheapest, asked fair prices for his work
He painted coloured swatches on the wall and then asked us for our opinion.
Sample 4 was not practical because of the soil that would be carried on the wind from ploughed fields on the farms around about us.
Sample 3 was a little too orange.
Sample 2 was not available in the anti cracking specification he had advised.
Sample 1 this years black, was available in the anti crack formula and also toned with the
various shades contained in the stone work.
And the winner is Sample 1.
The only complication is that he can not paint the window and door frames until the double glazing has been fitted. He will either return after the fitting of the windows or he will give us a discount of 250 euros if I paint the frames. So thats another job on my list!
Saturday, September 04, 2004
September has arrived and
7am and the first of the three teams of builders are on site they will work on the roof, exterior wall repairs and the cornice which is crumbling.
8am and the kitchen supply company are here too.
8.30 The plasterer 'paletta' or ‘yesoista’ delivers his materials and negotiates his space on the site.
10am The Window manufacturer arrives with another 'paletta' who will remove the current windows and install the steel frame that will hold the aluminium frames in place once work begins, they need more measurements.
Every two minutes I have to speak to one or another of the firms involved about supplies and potential problems. No sooner do those conversations start then a telephone call from one of the companies involved is called for; I am handed a series of mobile telephones and I take part in three way dialogues; my Spanish is being pushed to breaking point.
1pm Thank god for their siesta! Everybody leaves the site.
3.30pm The work resumes with a vengeance.
4pm The next piece in the jigsaw falls into place, the 'palettas' responsible for fixing the 'piedra' to the lower part of the external walls arrive. They will work till 9pm or 10pm as necessitated by their work.
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
This room was set up as a fully functional office with telephone and internet connections. We also asked the owner about the telephone; because this was an essential item and we knew people in some areas had waited a long time for 'telephonica' to provide a line. We were shown the connection to the telephone line and two telephones both functioning. Well at least that was straight forward.
Monday, July 12, 2004
Monday, June 21, 2004
Thursday, June 17, 2004
Tuesday, June 15, 2004
Monday, June 14, 2004
In the hallway as in the rest of the house, the walls were decorated with the owners own art work; unfortunately his enthusiasm for paint did not extend to the walls. He painted some areas of a room and not others, to make matters worse he mixed shades of a particular colour in small batches and was unable to match paint on different areas of the same wall.
To the left of the picture is a telephone
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
The buildings scale can be seen here in this view from the second entrance. To make use of this entrance with it's flatter access road; would mean putting in a road across the garden to the garage which is situated on the far side of the building. The car is parked at the garage entrance.
The horses were not included unfortunately, the large stallion in the left foreground was particularly friendly and followed me around the garden. He nuzzled be continually as I attempted to take my photographs of the property.
The front entrance to the Villa is uninviting. The large scale of the building is emphasized by the steps leading to the front door. Steps constructed in concrete but roughly rendered give a poor impression.
This is the first view of the house as you approach from the main road. There is a second entrance across the land on the south side of the house.
What we thought of as a new house when viewed it on the internet is obviously in need of updating. And in many areas the house needs to 'finished'.
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
This land surrounding the house is urban which means construction subject to planning regulations should be possible. The land to the right of this area is the finca which is non urbanisable and can only be used for farming.
This unmade road is the main access to the house, although we were told by the house owner it is a private road it is in fact owned by the local authority.
The yellow coloured building is a storage facility owned by a door manufacturer who is based in the village. That storage building was built by the owner of this house, and he operated it as a bread bakery. Eight years ago the property was divided and sold by a bank who had forclosed his mortgage.
The concrete slab inside the wall is the top of the old septic tank 'fos-septica' although the house is now connected to the village water and sewerage systems.
Outside the fence is the shared private road; it is shared by the owner of the house, the factory storage, the partialy constructed house and an adjoining farmer.
Monday, May 17, 2004
This Villa had been constructed 17 years earlier but remained unfinished. The facade had crumbling cornice, was unpainted and the lower half was roughly rendered.
When we spoke to builders and agents they told us that the rendered area should be finished with a stone facing material, applied in an irregular pattern, the stone material is called 'Piedra' ; from the Latin for Peter - 'and on this rock I shall build...'
Sunday, May 16, 2004
Almond plantations in full bloom against the bluest of skies in
Throughout our travels we were becoming aware, through media reports, that access to water was of major concern to the peoples of
Coastal areas often seemed to be over developed. A hive of activity in the busy summer months but deserted and forlorn in the winter time.
The increasingly arid south was loosing out in our estimation to the greener north country.
Friday, May 07, 2004
Our journey around
The principal area of our search was the eastern coast of
Wednesday, April 07, 2004
Parting with the apartment was the right thing to do, we both realised that without selling we could not fund our next venture. Easter was the final holiday in our former home and we had wall to wall sunshine throughout the two weeks. We took the new owners to the administrator for the complex and to the bank to set up their account and direct debits. The notary had been booked and everything ran like clockwork.
On the transaction day the purchasers arrived with their cheques in hand. Suddenly the realisation that we had reached the end of an era struck us both. Carol looked visibly shaken and she was uncertain of going through with the process. We had however made a deal.
Saturday, February 21, 2004
Friday, February 20, 2004
After studying the photographs I had taken, we decided to return to
A cheap flight into
along the Costa Blanca and the inland villages of that coast. Out of season the coastal resorts looked desolate with too few people around in winter. And perhaps they would have far too many people in the summer months, we kept reminding ourselves that we were looking for a home not a holiday resort.
We headed further north to Tortosa.
The city of
Roquetes on the opposite bank of the river Ebro, was home to the
The drive to the house through the back streets of Roquetes was a bad move on the agents part, the effect of which was to cool Carol’s enthusiasm. He should have gone directly across the east bridge from Tortosa and into the area of the villa.
The unfinished road leading from the village towards the house was going to be finished in asphalt and would be completed by May. Now though, driving slowly across the uneven road surface made the journey seem longer than it undoubtedly was.
Viewing the property we concentrated on areas that needed reform or replacement. Carol had doubts but was willing to have a go. The vendor would not reduce his asking price and other agents we knew had valued the property at a higher price.
Despite negotiating a deal, we felt that we had to walk away from the venture after ‘not’ sleeping on the matter.
Carol had considered that the rural setting was too isolated for her to be comfortable if left alone in the house. And so we decided to continue our search and look further south again before flying home from
Sunday, January 04, 2004
Described as ‘The English Mansion’ this house seemed to be the one we were looking for, it was set in 72,000 m2 of established
Just 6kms outside the city walls, the property was self contained and connected to all the essential services. The villa offered several possibilities, for business. The fruit tree planting could be extended to give a useful income. A second small store-house could be converted into accommodation for use by paying guests. This is also good bird watching country and has excellent fishing both based on and around the river
The house was in obvious need of a lot of modernization but had the potential for business that was one of our considerations. It was worthy of a second look.
Friday, January 02, 2004
Deciding to buy a home is one of the biggest and most stressful events in most peoples lives, buying abroad amplifies the problems of the process. In 1990 when we announced that was what we were going to do, our friends and families were more than a little alarmed.
In later years those same alarmists thought that, our earlier ‘brave decision’ had been a wise one; and one that they wished they had themselves emulated. Price rises over those years meant a bigger capital outlay for anyone entering the market today, and this put those same people off once more. It did not though stop them following the many re-location programmes shown on television or scouring the newspaper for the elusive bargain property.
Situated only a short stroll from the shore-line and a similar distance from the village centre; the apartment had been recently renovated and was in first class condition, but it was too certainly too small for anything other than a vacation home. Selling a ground floor poolside apartment close to the beach and the village was not going to be a problem.
Over the years we had made a lot of friends on the
We had often discussed the possibility of moving to the Spanish peninsular and making it our permanent home. Property on the mainland seemed better value when compared to those on the Canary Isles.
When, we were finally in a position to seriously consider the possibility of such a move, we began to draw up a list of our requirements in a building. Some were classified as essentials such as, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a formal dinning area and lounge, off road car parking. Whilst others were merely desirable a pool for example.
We were careful not to become too rigid in our demands, and reflected on the change to an outdoor life style; from the more familiar northern European lifestyle of our home in the
Financial considerations included having enough money to live on in retirement without cutting back on the quality of life we were used to. A budget was agreed between us and the search for a property began in earnest.
Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately for me, the land owner changed her mind and rejected our offer, withdrawing the property from sale.
The finished properties we saw, at least those which satisfied our requirements, were beyond our initial budget. The mainland was now a major consideration.
At the same time we wondered if the shorter flight time to the Spanish peninsular, more flights, cheaper fares allowing us to travel backwards and forwards between the two countries; might ease the strain of re-locating. The accessibility of European cities might also make for a more culturally enriched experience.
We were certain though that we should sell the apartment and posted a notice in the reception area. Within ten minutes a queue had formed at the garden gate. The sale was agreed at the asking price and the transaction scheduled for Easter. There were a number of other interested people who tried to gazump the purchaser, but we felt bound to honour the deal. Onlookers to the sale process advised that we should have invited bids for the apartment; perhaps we are not hard headed enough for the property market.