CHALLENGE NUMERO UNO

WEDNESDAY 31 MARCH 2010

Additions To The Team

Contract signing and Tapas

Our smaller contractors (electrician, metal man, plasterer and carpenter) came to the finca for a beer and some tapas and to sign their contracts.  It was a pleasant couple of hours as the sun went down and gave us the opportunity to meet more of the men who will work on the house.

Thanks must go to Rob Westwater our clean-living lawyer (and happily a long chalk from the coke snorting example whom we sacked several years ago).  Rob has helped us ensure we have contracts for each and every person working on the project.

Jose Luis (Electrician)

Julio (Carpenter)

Antonio (Metal Carpenter)

Antonio Miguel (Plasterer)

Much to Scarlett’s delight our plumber is a woman – Encarna.  Sadly we have not managed  to get her in front of the camera yet.

Challenge Number 1

The Rock (after four days of drilling)

Well the idea of securing the site (which was the next thing to be done after our last blog posting) has gone into the long grass while we sort out rather a large problem – the ROCK.  It stands 3.0 mtrs high, 21 mtrs ling and 14 mtrs wide and sits in the centre of the lower ground floor taking up approximately 50% of the area.

Eloy spent up to the Easter Weekend (Thurs 1 to Sun 4 April) clearing the area around the rock. He actually worked on Easter  Thursday and broke the pick attachment on his digger so has not come back!  We ran into him using his other digger, working for the Ayuntamiento….mmmmm!

TUESDAY 6 APRIL 2010

Site Meeting With Oscar (Geological Surveyor)

Discussions with Oscar

Oscar is the man who did the geological survey and actually failed to identify the rock.  To say it was difficult to warm to the man is an understatement, particularly as he appeared to see the situation as an opportunity to demand more fees. The Geological Survey cost a whacking 4531€ and we believe we were justified in expecting a follow up visit gratis  – particularly when there is clearly a problem.  During the meeting it transpired that one of the the probes (marked on the plan in the survey report ) was shown as being right in the middle of the rock.  In fact it was not made where it was shown on the plan.  It was made to the side of the rock and thus showed soft earth.  The fact that the purpose of a geological survey is to help decision making seemed to conveniently pass Oscar and the Architects by…..

As well as “seeking advice” (see the Learning Centre Point 1) we are now looking at two options:

  1. To take the top off the rock, dig down further in the soft earth each side of the rock and fill, compact and cement these areas to the same level as the rock.  More complex but potentially cheaper.  However this option requires more visits by the dreaded surveyor and probes into the compacted areas to ensure they are solid enough.  The quality controller – a very nice girl called Inma would also charge for the apparently necessary additional visits.
  2. To dig down to 4 mtrs over the whole site – which includes removing the whole rock.  Simple but very time consuming and costly.

Calculating which option is the most cost efficient is now becoming the next challenge!  We should make the decision before the end of this week.  In the meantime if Eloy deigns to turn up there is plenty of work for him to keep him busy.

Meanwhile….

Work goes on at the finca.  The chickens are laying like crazy, and the weeds are growing after all the rain we have had.  The summer kitchen needs a springclean and the vegetable terraces and fruit trees need attention.

Our concern for some time now has been irrigation water. The main irrigation canal was severely damaged by a land slide during the rains – we have been waiting a while and the weather is getting drier.

Organic Vegetables

Martin And A Prize Carrot

Bridie (our daughter) and her husband Martin are doing a fantastic job in keeping the everyday things running.  Bridie has been growing vegetables from organic seed and is proving to have really green fingers.  We have eaten asparagus, carrots, peas, beans, onions and chard already.

Bridie and the Beans

She and Martin have researched the way that by companion planting we can manage our crops without recourse to chemical pesticides or fertilizers. They have planted coriander among the beans, nasturtiums with the chard and marigolds among the tomatoes.  Not only will we have great vegetables – but a lovely garden too.

We make our own compost and have just had a lorry load of mule manure delivered to go around the trees.  It is fair to say that the trees (just sticks really) that we planted about 5 years ago have had a tough time as, apart from irrigation, they have not been fed any nutrients at all. They won’t know themselves this year!

SATURDAY 10 APRIL 2010

We found the water deposit full to overflowing – at last the irrigation water is back and we do not need to hand water the vegetables.  Typically just as we have irrigation water again the weather forecast is promising rain this coming week.

Project Headquarters (The Summer Kitchen)

Thanks to Chris who has made new shelves for the summer kitchen we can use it more efficiently, more often and more comfortably.  Inma (our diamond – whom many of you have met) and Scarlett will give it a thorough spring clean now that Chris has finished his DIY masterpieces and the dust has settled!

Visiting friends

Thankfully friends still visit us at the finca – even with Eloy pounding away at the Rock.  We had a wonderfully sunny day with Alex and Jenni and their two small and cheeky boys Charlie and Zak. It was such a joy to have their help to pick the fresh vegetables and prepare them for lunch…. then later to enjoy a drink with Ann and Glyn Snelling who came to view the Rock and give us the benefit of their not inconsiderable experience in such matters….Winter is over!

Jenni And Her Son Charlie

Another visitor arrived on the 10th April in the form of a white dove.  She seems very tame and has been roosting in the pergola which is attached to the summer kitchen.  It looks as though she is wanting to nest in a basket we have hanging from a beam under the pergola so we may even have babies.  That is of course if we can keep our three cats at bay.  Typically we couldn’t resist offering her food and naming her Paloma so now it looks as though she will be another addition to the family – hopefully she will stay around to see the end of the project and bring us good luck!

The Dove Of Peace and Good Luck?

MONDAY 12 APRIL 2010

Site Meeting

This meeting was an important one.  This time Scarlett produced an agenda and chaired the meeting as we have felt that previous meetings have been somewhat chaotic!  She took the opportunity of outlining professional meeting etiquette and reminding the group that they are all members of a team with a common goal – to complete a project on time and on budget.

Site meeting 12April 2010

Reports were given regarding the position of the project  against the budget and against the time schedule.  So far we are slightly over on both.

Boris then described the two options we have with regard to the Rock.  In the general discussion it was agreed that we should ask Eloy to dig some more holes in strategic places while we waited.  The purpose was to establish exactly where, in the area the house will occupy, the rock lies. Then we can establish our options regarding the foundations. We ended up with a rather large shock.  To one side and back of the main Rock Eloy did not hit rock until he had dug 2.5 meters more (that is -5 meters in total from “ground floor level”).  Then we went to the the front corners and we hit rock at 1 meter.  So effectively at the back of the house we have rock at -0.5 meters which then runs to -5.0 on one side, -4.0 on the other and -4.0 along the front.  So far we have only dug to -2.5/3.0 on each side of the Rock.

The hole to the side of the rock

Needless to say there was a great deal of argument between the professionals as to the best way to proceed.  We agreed on two options.  Boris undertook to cost them by the end of the day so that we could make a decision.

The costings are done but we are waiting for Ana and Jesus to give us their opinion.  In these costings Boris in his inimitable style has actually changed the detail of the options to what he believes is correct – not what was agreed in the meeting. In fairness he is working to find ways to save the potential for enormous additional costs.  However  Scarlett will be having a word……!

One positive decision was that Reg could start to bring materials to the site and build the casetas (sheds) to house the generator and fuel tank ….so the building can begin!

Paloma the Dove sat on the beam above us and watched over the meeting.

Next …..

Will the rock become a natural feature in the house….?!


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