The road to hell ……?

1st Week of May 2010

The area for the house is finally clear …….but Challenge Numero Dos is upon us.

Eloy has left the building…….  Our favourite man has steadily and unerringly picked away at the rock and redistributed it around the finca.  Removing the rock was a hard and very non environmentally friendly thing to do.  Taking into account all the alternatives and bearing in mind we have to keep to a budget, in the end it was our only option. Having come to terms with this we were ready to start to build – however fate and the mayor had other ideas!!

Week commencing 10th May 2010

We have mentioned the access road to the finca before …. well the planned mass meeting of suppliers and labourers never happened (no surprise there!). Instead first Boris, then our solicitor, Rafael de la Rosa, visited the mayor to point out that the project has Ministry of Tourism approval, that we have paid the Ayuntamiento a huge amount for the licence, that the maintenance of the road is the responsibility of the Ayuntamiento and that we were not responsible for the damage to it.  In addition, in an economic crisis, there was a group of men standing around doing nothing and all receiving social security, who could be working if the construction materials were delivered.

The mayor’s response was words to the effect  – “F…. the English – if they want the road repaired they will have to pay for the materials”.  Charming.  So we did – in the interests of getting the house finished.  Scarlett, with advice from Rafael, is keeping a list of points that we will pick up later – apparently we have 20 years in which to do so!

As it turned out the estimated 1500 euros worth of materials was reduced to about 300 euros when Sergio (the lorry driver who is delivering the materials) agreed that the road was safe enough when only one key area of damage was repaired.  He is happy to drive the materials over the other damaged points. This means we can sort out the issue of the road with the Ayuntamiento later – Hallelujah!

While all this was going on sufficient materials were delivered to:

1. Make the “Control room”, outdoor lavatory and oil tank.  The oil containers were also delivered.  We are now the proud owners of a large block built “shed” where all the elements of our energy and heating systems will be housed, plus 6000 litres of storage for domestic heating oil (more about energy later).

2. Fill and compact the areas each side of the rock on which the side walls of the house will be built.  Plus have the necessary quality checks carried out and certifications and paperwork issued to confirm that the “compaction factor” is within the required reuirements.

3. Compact and prepare the site ready to receive the “cleaning concrete”, metal reinforcements and the base floor of the Casa Rural.

Oil containers/tank

Control Room

The site for the house


During the month we have had several meetings with a local company to talk about energy and waste water disposal.  Their engineer, Fernando, has designed heat and power systems for us based on alternative energy sources.  The energy system consists of solar panels, batteries and a biodiesel generator.  We can source biodiesel that is manufactured locally and meets all the necessary EU standards.  The hot water and central heating will be fueled by a biomass boiler fed by olive pips and almond shells sourced in the valley.  All waste water will be channelled through a water purification system that will produce water clean enough for irrigation of the garden and trees.  Very GREEN!!

1st June 2010 – Site Meeting

We have not had regular weekly site meetings in May so it was good to see the team together again.  However it was a long meeting as there was a great deal to talk about.

It was agreed that the next steps are for Reg to lay a layer of fine sand over the site and then cover it with two layers of plastic.  The steel reinforcing grid (due to arrive on Thursday 3rd June) will then be laid over that – followed by 45cms of concrete through which all the drainage pipes will be placed.  This apparently is the way that the Spanish create a foundation.  This meets all the necessary norms required – and saves us money too as the original plan was to lay 5cms of “cleaning” concrete instead of the sand.

We are now 9 weeks late on the time schedule.  However Reg is still aiming to finish Phase One by Christmas.  That would be soooo great!

Hooray – at last we are starting to build the house.

10 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Tony said,

    Oh, well done to you all. Was just listening to The Road to Hell as I got back – is it that version or are there good intentions? Best of luck & wishes for the rest of the season.

  2. 2

    Liz Micallef said,

    Boy! Won’t it be good to put your feet up with a large gin and tonic!!
    Well done you two and all your team for overcoming obstacles and staying in there.

    • 3

      You are implying that we are too busy to imbibe Liz – I have to tell you its the large G & T every evening that is keeping us going!!
      Great to hear from you all – thanks again for your messages. Scarlett

  3. 4

    Dave & Margy said,

    Greetings and best wishes from downunder
    Great to hear you are finally to the stage of starting the house at the top of the road from hell .You have had quite a journey but you have succeeded!
    WE have enjoyed and been fascinatedby your trials and tribulations.
    I shall never again complain about our local council [maybe].
    Good luck and more alcohol to you both.

    • 5

      Hello Guys
      We could do with some Aussie humour a bit more often up here – plus Dave’s skills and experience!! Where are you when we need you?!!

      • 6

        It has been far, far too long since I have been in touch. Amazing that you have got this far and you are now starting to build the house that has been your dream for so long. We can’t wait to come and stay with the boys (who are now 4 and 6 1/2 believe it or not!). The boys are both big and strong and very good manual labourers, so maybe we should come out and help with the build 🙂
        Huge hugs to you and Chris. We think about you often.

  4. 7

    Deirin said,

    I’m gobsmacked at all your achievements! Seems a long way from peaceful Otmoor life! Continued good wishes to you both Bob & D

  5. 8

    Jacqui and Tony said,

    Hi Guys, Wow – just checked your blog out for the first time. Sounds like you’ve had a real nightmare. Glad to hear the G & T’s are keeping you going. Also checked your web site out. Sounds like you are both busy busy busy …………
    Great to catch up yesterday and will look forward to watching the progress in the future. Look forward to seeing you in July and will try and get out to see you both in the new year. Love Jacqui and Tony x

  6. 9

    Gundi said,

    Hi Scarlet, hi Chris,
    great admiration for both of You for Your endurance keeping your project runnig despite all the obstacles. I really wish You more luck with rocks and mayors and alle the things that are coming up as well as ongoing confidence in Your competence and all the skills that help You finish the finca.
    Wish I could help You with the garden and love reading about what is growing.
    Sending You lots of love and good energy from Germany

  7. 10

    Paul Gawith said,

    Probably too late as i have only just discovered your website.

    We are building in a similar rural area and using a system from Powerguiard that uses waste heat from generator/solar immersion heater to heat water thus doing away with the need for seperate boiler system.

    Their system also manages charging/discharge of batteries and is the best system I have found for controlling and integrating all the different elements.

    We saw the system at a house in Restabul and got in touch with them. Small company but very switched on. Cost of whole system including delivery and havinhg engineer from UK to install was very comparable with the various split systems I got quotes for in Spain.

    Meanwhile was fascinated by your story which has so many echoes of our own. We started building in March after that appaling wet winter but things are going well so far. We know the mayor in Lecrin well, he may not be invited to the opening party.

    Hope things continue well for you both.
    Paul & Carolyn

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