Artists impression of la hacienda

Artists impression of la hacienda

IT IS QUITE UNBELIEVABLE to us that  10 years after moving permanently to Spain we have actually started the building project on La Finca – 6 years after approaching the first company of architects in the Lecrin Valley.

JUST AS A WARNING to any other foolish individuals who may be incubating similar ambitions some of the obstacles we have encountered include:

a bungled planning application by local architects

a coke snorting lawyer in Granada

a search for a credible team of lawyers, accountant and architects with NO vested interest in the local area

a long and involved planning application process including:

  • geological and archeological surveys
  • approval from the Ministry of Public Works, Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Culture
  • gaining the building licence from the Lecrin Ayuntamiento (Town Hall)

finding that the build would cost twice what the architects estimated

a failed application for a grant through the Ministry of Tourism

seeking quotations from building contractors and being blown away by the prices

revising the plans and re-seeking quotations from more building contractors

warring project managers and lawyers

massive costs for professional and local authority fees and taxes

almost constant torrential rain since November 2009 until mid March 2010

breakdown of the global banking system

the fall of the Pound against the Euro

WE DID HAVE HIGH SPOTS of course –  like when we turned on the irrigation that watered the 300 fruit trees and vegetables we had planted.  Then there was the first steaming outdoor hot water shower that we had beside our caravan, provided by a solar panel and a tank, in its roofless cubicle where you can look up and see the bright moon and stars in the clear Andalucian summer sun.  The first roast meat we produced from our wood burning stove in the summer kitchen and the many meals we have enjoyed under the pergola with long suffering friends and family who have listened year after year to our plans and dreams.

Hopefully after all this the actual build will be easier, the team will work well together, we will be able to stick to the budget and we will enjoy the “creative” phase!  Yes well we can dream – we have been doing it so long we are really good at it!

Now that we have started we will endeavour to keep a diary of the build so anyone interested can see the progress.

Chris is waiting eagerly to start work with the builders and Scarlett is hoping he will gain many new skills that he can use to continue and finish the build after the money runs out!!

Scarlett has been appointed Project Secretary so she can keep an eye on the money and be on site to take plenty of photos and keep order!


The Team

The team is growing daily and so far we have:

Boris – Project Manager

A German architect with plenty of experience of building projects in Spain.  Boris, a big child in many ways, with an endearing sense of humour  balanced by a fierce temper has the necessary attitude, organisation skills and force to drive through this project.  He has a love of the local fiestas – Boris likes to live on the edge …..

Jesus and Ana Architects and Co-ordinators of Health and Safety

A lovely couple, recently married, Ana and Jesus have worked with us for 4 years.  They designed the Casa Rural and then tenaciously fought their way through all the necessary and constantly changing legislation and bureaucracy to ensure that the application for a Building Licence was approved.

Now in addition to the duties associated with being the project architects they are ensuring that every aspect of the site and the workers employment complies with the very stringent Spanish legal requirements.  They seem to be an ideal foil for the Boris’ tendency to potentially “edgy” ideas.

Reg – Builder and main contractor

Our English builder who has experience of building in the valley and who lives close to the site – meaning he will be on call at all hours!  A kind and considerate man who believes the best of everybody (even Boris), he builds beautiful houses so we have faith that he will do the same for us.

Pedro – Quantity Surveyor

Pedro is new to us and seems a very nice young man.  His responsibility is to ensure that materials bought are the materials used.  Very important for budget control!  The test will be how he stands up to Boris…..

Eloy – Excavator Driver

He works 10 hours a day except for 1 hour for lunch (he is not a typical Spaniard).  He operates his digger with amazing accuracy and grace and is mesmerizing to watch.  He is unmarried and rumour has it he sleeps with his digger!

SAT 20 MARCH 2010

Measuring out

Measuring out - Chris, Billy, Boris, Reg and Pedro

Our grandson Billy (the hoodie) and Chris were very much involved in helping with the measuring and marking out of the house on the land with Boris, Reg and Pedro.

At this point we actually decided to move the house two and half metres to the left (facing the view) and swinging the house about two degrees forward on the left using the right hand back corner as the pivot point.

This will, we think, improve the view from the house -and very importantly will not cost any more!!

Project Headquarters

Granddaughters Willow and Lucie helped Scarlett clean the Summer Kitchen after its long winter closure to make it ready to be “Project Headquarters”.

Damage To The Road

You may wonder why this point is worthy of mention.  It is simply because it could reverberate later!  When the fees to the local council (The Ayuntamiento) are paid for the Building Licence they include a deposit (3% of the value of the finished building) to cover for any damage you may cause to the surrounding environment.  For several weeks before the measuring out of the land was even done, the local Ayuntamiento have been carrying out works near to the river.  They have to pass the Finca to reach the site of the work.  They have been driving very heavy lorries laden with materials and the surface of the road is completely destroyed in some places.  Scarlett has video-ed the route and is presenting the Ayuntamiento with a CD of the video and a letter ensuring there is absolutely no doubt that the damage is not caused by anything relating to La Hacienda Project!

MON 22 MARCH 2010

Measurement and change approval

The strings, steels and plaster dust used in measuring out

Approving the measurements - Ana, Boris, Jesus and Pedro

Ana and Jesus, Boris, Reg, Pedro, Chris and Scarlett were all on site at 08:30 for what will now be regular Monday morning site meetings.

Ana and Jesus formally approved the change of position of the house and everyone concerned established individual relationships and responsibilities within the team.

TUES 23 MARCH 2010

Clearing The Ground And Digging Out

Eloy the digger driver started work

Eloy and his digger lifting Reg's van

The first thing that Eloy had to dig out was Reg’s van.  Reg, with the help of Boris (who is always right) managed to get it so deeply embedded in the mud that only Eloy could remove it.

Now we are reaching Easter Week (Semana Santa) …. Eloy will work three days from the 29-31 March then all work will stop until Monday the 5 April – GRRRRRRRR!

The back wall of the lower ground floor

In the first 4 days Eloy has dug out a whole new “works entrance”, has restored the “visitors’ entrance” destroyed after Reg’s van was removed plus about a third of the house area.  He has now hit rock and 3.2 meters.  The geological survey said that should happen at 4 meters…..mmmmm!

MONDAY 29 March 2010

Site Meeting

At the site meeting it was agreed that we need to ask one of the geologists to visit the site to advise on whether we should build the house higher or dig lower…  Unfortunately Ana and Jesus have established that the geologist company who produced the original report no longer exist (the economic crisis hits again).  However the official “College of Geologists” are required to pick up the responsibilities of the company and are sending a geologist to the site next week (Tuesday 6 or Wednesday 7 April)  In the meantime Eloy has plenty to do.

Next to come……

Securing the site

18 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Nik said,

    .. and it all looks so simple in the artists impression. The first lawyer sounds like a colourful character! Maybe he thought he was contracting for a luna base.

    I sincerely wish you both the absolute best of British luck.

    • 2

      Thanks for all your help and encouragement Nik – it would not have been anywhere near as fun without you – long may that continue!

      • 3

        manuel said,

        escarlata, espero que tu proyecto lo veas terminado como tu lo tienes previsto, ayudada por los dos arquitectos y el resto del equipo humano, animo señora empresaria

  2. 4

    cali said,

    escarlet animo, seguro que iras mas contenta cada dia con este proyecto tan magnifico,y bien enclavado en la zona, seguire viendo la evolucion del mismo

  3. 5

    Rachael & Dave Colon said,

    Fantastic news. You deserve to suceed in your venture and we are all thinking of you from rainy Devon.

  4. 7

    Mario Garcia said,

    Hola Scarlett,
    Es un magnífico proyecto que sin duda funcionará a las mil maravillas porque se ve que está hecho con mucha ilusión. La idea es maravillosa y te deseo mucho éxito. Se nota una buena coordinación y ganas, muchas ganas para superar las trabas que, por el lugar que has elegido (maravilloso pero protegido), seguro que has tenido.
    Estos arquirectos (Ana y Jesús) también han trabajado para mi y me hicieron una casa realmente especacular de la que estamos muy orgullosos mi mujer y yo.
    Ánimo y Éxito

  5. 8

    Rosa said,


    Scarlett and Chris, your determination is admirable! My best wishes to all the members of the team. Good luck!

  6. 9

    Gonzalo said,

    THOUSANDS OF CONGRATULATIONS! WHAT AN ACHIEVEMENT!Dear Scarlett and Chris, CLEARLY YOU HAVE OVERCOME ENDLESS OBSTACLES WITH SHEAR DETERMINATION AND TENACITY. FORTITUDE AND VISSION HAVE SUCCEDED ONCE MORE. I have no doubt that Casa Amelia will not only offer the delights of nature, excuisite “fussion” of Spanish and international cuisine amidst a changing spectacular landscapes to the visitor and that I had the opportunity to enjoy but also will offer the posiitive energy you both have “transferred” to Casa Amelia, I hope the latter goes free of charge!

  7. 10

    Phil and Nicky Weismehl, California said,

    Wonderful news, Scarlett and Chris. Delighted to hear how quickly this has progressed.

    Now that global warming has altered the significance of the phrase “moving at a glacial pace” (since glaciers are now retreating at a brisk speed), perhaps “moving like Spanish construction” will replace it.

    We look forward to visiting at some point.

    Phil and Nicky

  8. 11

    tony said,

    Best of British (if that’s not too non PC. On second thoughts……….) We’ve just (about) finished doubling the size of the house through the worst winter in decades so remember the following:
    1. It seemed like a good idea at the time
    2. It’ll be worth it in the end
    3. May you live in interesting times (ancient Chinese curse)
    4. Completion takes longer than but is cheaper than divorce.

    Love to all,

    Tony n Helen (n John)

  9. 12

    Luis Llopis said,

    Congratulations, Chris&Scarlett.
    For being so brave.
    For your courage and your concern to do things the right way.
    For struggling hard to set up such a team to make your ideas come true.
    For running after your dreams for so long, and yet keep a smile and a high spirit.
    Thanks for being a role model.
    I’ll be watching you closely, hope we can meet at El Valle soon!


    • 13

      Thank you everyone. When all we seem to be doing is banging our heads on the massive rock, it is really wonderful to read your comments. They really help to bring the sunshine into the darker days!!

      Our love to all.
      Scarlett and Chris

  10. 14

    Hi Scarlett, I met Chris few times at the rotary club in Granada a year or so ago (probably more). I am so interested in your project. Actually I’d love to know more about what it will be / look like when its finished. Perhaps theres some information here. I will have a look around.

    I am very impressed with your perseverance. I expect you know that the gold is buried underneath all the stinky smelly rubbish and it only appears when you’ve refused to give up. So its bound to turn up soon.

    Good luck anyway.

    Im looking forward to the next update on the blog.

    Warm regards


  11. 15

    pedrotecto said,

    nice work scarlett and chris!
    it will be a nice project! we will work toghether for this 🙂


  12. 16

    Monique said,

    hello Scarlett and Chris, by coincidence, I have found your website, so now I understand how big are your projects and I applaud you !
    I still wish I will have the opportunity to visit you. Still in France but always in mind to go in a sunny place !!!
    Take care

  13. 18

    Luis said,

    Hi, Chris&Scarlett!
    It’s been great to see your update… you have been up to a lot during these past months!
    Congratulations, and all the best with your adventure.


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