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Building work - phase 93! (July to October 2010)
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Our visit in July 2010 was timed to coincide with some more building work. Not that they need watching that closely but it's good to be there so any questions can be sorted out on the spot and nobody makes assumptions that turn out to be wrong ones.
And so the builders arrived. First job was to demolish the old bathroom and start to rebuild it adding a walk-in store room - Spanish houses don't have much storage as it always went in the goat shed or the garage of which we have neither. And then they moved on to the front of the house which, apart from a few cosmetic changes, had stayed pretty much as it was when we bought the house. As you'll see below, that was going to change.
And then the heat set in, every day in the mid-30's and heading for, but not quite reaching, 40. We hid in the house as it was just too warm to do much outside other than in half-hour sessions but the builders carried on, sweating through it all. One of them told me he drinks about 6 litres of water a day and never needs the toilet once!
This is one of the last major pieces of work we are doing to the house - the only other one (that we've thought of at present!) is to tidy up the drive and make a car port to keep the sun off the car. There will always be something to be done, that's the same no matter where the house is, especially when, like this one, they are almost a century old.
Bathroom goneDemolished bathroomEx-shower
By the end of the first day, the bathroom had become part of the garden. The old dark brown door, held by two beams, was our security door! Behind that was the hall and our lounge. This is what was left of where the washbasin had been and, in the corner, the bath. As the tap on the wall suggests, this was the shower.
Open Aspect?Thin wallsView from dog pen
I suppose an estate agent would describe this as having an open aspect. But here is the main reason for knocking it down and starting again. This is the thickness of the wall, hardly a finger length. And the roof was even thinner. No wonder it was impossible to keep warm in the winter. From the back of the house, in what we call the dog-pen as it was where the previous people kept theirs, you can see the roof has gone and only the original walls have been left intact.
From the backReconstructions startsOld tiles removed
The back of the house is also being renovated, and the disused TV aerial is being removed. This is the 'before' photo. Inside, the dividing wall between the bathroom and the store room is starting to be built And in what will be the new bathroom, the old tiles are being removed and the walls 'straightened' a little - no two walls in a Spanish house are ever square - or so it seems.
Cat ScanPassed?First finish coat
And that evening, we had the cat inspection. Daisy from next door decided to give it the once-over. Yes, I think this is satisfactory, hardly a paws width between the bricks. The outside wall is now complete and starting to get its first coat of mortar.
Roofing startsInside improvesFinishing the roof
The roof is now going on - on top of this will go a layer of insulation set in concrete, some bitumen felt, more concrete and then the roof tiles. Inside, things are progressing too. The dividing wall is getting taller and the only way in now is through what will become a window. The dividing wall finished, attention moved to finishing the roof and starting on the front..
Patio Day 1Wall goneEdge of the mountain
This is the end of the first day, the digger having removed about half of the existing poor quality concrete patio. And most of the wall, plus half the conifers have gone too exposing more of Denise and Stewart's house than we normally see. Where the gate to the pool area was is now just a gap at the edge of the mountain. Now you can see some progress we are getting excited about what it will look like.
DemolishedOver the edgeThe Milk Trough
To the right of the photo is the house and the front steps, in the middle is the pile of rubble that was going to fill yet another skip, and to the left is a drop down the edge of the mountain. As you can see, it's quite a drop below to Denise's washing line. The satellite dish is our internet connection not TV. In other parts of the gallery you may have seen the milk-trough mentioned which is where they used to pour the goat's milk, and it had a pipe down to where the tanker came to collect it. Well this is what is looks like out of the ground - not quite as impressive or old as we thought.
Over the edgeSmarten the back tooRetiling the bedroom
And to give some idea of scale, this is looking over the edge down to the bottom of the valley. The house you can see is about half way down. The back of the house was looking shabby so we had the chimney and soffit renovated and now it looks as smart as the rest. Our bedroom tiles had been the original shiny 'villa' style tiles which weren't in keeping with the way we saw the house, so they now match the tiles in the rest of the house - rustic!
Wet adhesivePreparefor the concreteThe curved tile edge
And, inside, we were walking the plank to get to bed as the tiles in the little hall had been laid and the adhesive was still wet. Meanwhile, outside preparations were being made for the big day. The day when the concrete lorries arrived to re-lay the front patio. Then the curve that was to be the edge of the tiled area was laid and it really started to look as though things were happening.
Steel reinforcingConcrete lorriesConcrete pump
The steel reinforcing was laid, together with the levels for the concrete and then we waited for the next day The big day arrived and the sky was, unusually, overcast and grey. Ideal concrete laying conditions. And then the two concrete lorries arrived and picked their way down the very steep drive. The first to arrive was also the concrete pump, so the second backed up to it and, together, they would deliver the concrete over the house.
Pumping starts
The snake of the concrete pump started to rise ... ... and eventually came right over the house ... ... and into the front
Concrete appearsLaying concreteRaking into place
then the concrete pump was started and out it came sheer physical effort managed to get it into the right place and start to get it smoothed down Garden rakes were the order of the day!
End resultThe JCB goesThe van stalls
And this was the end result Having now finished with the JCB it was loaded on to a trailer. However, it was reluctant to leave as it got half-way up the drive and the van did not have enough power to get it to the top. So it was pulled the rest of the way by a powerful Nissan - and then the van refused to start at all!
La PiedraDoor stepBathroom tiling
Next day a start was made on the piedra which was going across the bottom of the front house wall. Natural stone, split and then concreted in place And the front door step, approximately half an octagon in shape, was started. The tiling comes later. The bathroom tiling was coming on a treat and we could start to get an idea what it would look like when completed.
Getting thereApproach from the driveTurning the corner
The bath, in position but not fitted, helps to show what it may look like in the end. And this is what the approach from the drive was starting to look like as we moved toward completion. And, as you turn the corner, this is what the front looks like - not finished but well on the way.
Nearly finishedPiedraPiedra finished
The front step is not quite finished but, apart from that, you get a pretty good idea of the new look This is the piedra (natural stone) finish that we are having at the base of the house to protect the wall and make it look a bit more tidy And looking toward the house you can see the piedra finish and the proof that we now need to repaint the external walls!.
DecemberFront viewOur mountain
This one is actually from our next visit in December, the plants had begun to settle in and the big log had made it back into position. The roof you see is of our neighbour's Stewart & Denise's Being cooler, the fly curtain has been held back away from the door, which is why it looks a little strange. The wheel-barrow is used to transport the logs for the fire from the store at the rear. And the view from the other direction toward the mountain.
Door step finishedBathroom finishedShower Cubicle
The front step is also now complete, a vast improvement on the previous one. And finally the bathroom is decorated and furnished and ready for use. And the all glass shower cubicle is fantastic, and the shower itself provide a very invigorating blast of water to help in the waking up process.

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