Grand designs, and no Kevin in sight

With our next trip planned, and schedule coming nicely together, it is time that we brought you right up to date with where we currently are with the house (at the beginning of November 2010). Consider this article a kind of mental house-keeping, a way of sweeping away the memories of past visits in order to allow new ones to settle in their place, when we next put our trust and lives in the hands of an EasyJet pilot and his dungaree bedecked youth club crew.

In the last instalment, ‘We’ve got squatters’, I left the story on the eve of the meeting with the architect, Mum reeling from the shock of seeing our pile of stones for the first time, and us crossing everything in the hope of being able to move quickly on to the next stage.

After a very long breakfast, lengthened by the architects vehicular troubles in achieving Taramundi from A Coruña on a busy Monday morning, we ordered our third cup of coffee and sat down around the table. Us two like a pair of kids on Christmas morning, and the architects like our parents who needed to manage our expectations that we were about to take delivery of the entire toy shop. The normally decaffeinated Mother was, after three cups of finest Spanish Café con leche, almost as hyper as myself and Amanda. It was touch and go as to which one of us would explode first.

Fernando pulled out the ‘as is’ survey booklet, the most beautiful bound catalogue of our land. He talked us through it in detail, showing us the outlines of rooms that we’d not yet had chance to enter (due to thick undergrowth or dangerous floors) along with room dimensions and photographs of materials. It was a great start, the bound plans (along with a DVD of additional information) was more that we’d hoped for.

Now we moved on to Fernandos’ outline plans for the small house, the house which would be ours in the future, and which once renovated would act as a holiday home and site office while we managed the renovation of the ‘big house’. And what wondrous ideas he put before us.

A small extension, zinc roofing, rusty-look window frames, floor to ceiling windows, a central fire heating the house and providing hot water, a kitchen with a two metre letter-box window allowing is to see the fantastic valley views. It was the kind of thing that you’d see Kevin McCloud waxing lyrical over on Grand Designs, the kind of structure that was entered for awards, our little piece of modern traditionalism. Our eyes and minds were spinning and then Fernando hit us with the estimate. When architects fees, and all of the taxes, were added the total was over double what we’d mentally allowed for this small first part of the site. I suspect that our failure to mask our disappointment was audible, and possibly even olfactible.

We needed to take stock, double check whether A Coruña prices were the same as those locally and at least do some initial investigation as to whether extensions,  zinc roofs and rusty window frames were permissable in casa rural renovations. We thanked Fernando and Luz and decided to visit Delores (have I mentioned Dolores yet?*) for a coffee and some advice from one of our ‘renovation’ gurus.

Delores was sympathetic, soothing, and pragmatic. Just what we wanted and needed. It wasn’t the end of the project, it was just the start. We needed to meet the architect from the Concello and test the water, perhaps chat to a couple more local architects, and get some costings from local builders.

Only then would we know what to do next. It was a time to keep cool and keep our heads.

We spent the rest of the trip collecting contact phone numbers and e-mails ready to start another round of advice-seeking, and gather the ammunition to start planning our next trip.

* Dolores lives in the valley with her inquisative kitten Lula. She moved there from Madrid a couple of years ago to escape the rat race. She’s restored her own house, with some help from contractors, almost single handed, and she knows absolutely everyone in the valley and beyond. She is the ‘renovation guru’.
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2 Responses to Grand designs, and no Kevin in sight

  1. Gary says:

    I don’t think you should skimp on the luxurious small house, after all, if you’re claiming the big house then the small house might be where I spend many of my holidays.

    See if you can get him to fit a spa bath in somewhere too.

    • paul says:

      There’ll be nothing but luxury for you Gary, wherever you end up staying. However, wouldn’t your vacation require the passport that you’ve vowed never to renew?

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