Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Ruin -- Part Two

The first work I was aiming to have done was to raise the height of the windows and door, put in another window, raise the height of all the walls, and seal the underground portion of wall at the back. The next job, which I thought would be silly money, was the roof. This would require new roof beams, a wooden ceiling, a fenizol layer (waterproof foam insulation), nylon and then a layer of reinforced concrete. The prices I got for both of these jobs were very good, so I told Mikalis to go ahead with them. He asked me when so I told him to get to work as soon as he wanted. He also did not require any money up front, and subsequently he, and two workers, turned up not the following day but the day after. The photographs here (dated) show the results thus far.

At this point I have to make it clear how good, how unusual this is. We spent the first two years here forever waiting for the Greek worker who never arrived. We’ve been ripped off on price, which both Greek and Albanian builders do a lot of here because, well, if you’re British the assumption is that you’re probably a millionaire. We’ve also heard nightmare stories about what some people have paid and, really, the builders often get away with it because the various ex-pats here are accustomed to British, German and Dutch building prices.

However, there are new circumstances to take into account. Greece is seriously in debt and the recent 95 billion loan the country received has come with some stringent conditions. The problem is exacerbated by Pasok having won the election last year. The Pasok government’s solution to a cash flow problem, like socialists across the world, is to tighten the screw on the rapidly diminishing number of those who earn the stuff. The result of course being that even less cash tends to flow.

Mikalis hasn’t worked in four months because, due to the taxes being imposed, people here are tightening their belts and putting off that roof repair or extension that seemed so essential a few years back. In Sitia, the largest town at this end of the island, only two building jobs are in progress. Here’s an example of one of the taxes: unleaded petrol is now 1.60 Euros a litre. Great way to generate wealth, don’t you think? Is it any wonder to learn, as I did in another conversation with Mikalis, that something like 80% of Sitia’s population is on some form of anti-depressant?



Kirby Uber said...

may i offer a simplistic but hearty "kick ass" for your efforts.

Scott said...

I was curious about the Fenizol. I found almost nothing on Google, except for this snippet: " Fenizol brand is obsolete, next to useless and to be avoided..." Unfortunately that page is missing in the book that is cited on Google books. You might still find the book interesting:

Anonymous said...

I like the stone work above the door. Inner wall of plaster board + insulation or just a render coat?

I always like the start of a building job. Block work always goes up so quick :) It's just the finishing that takes so goddam long. Good to see progress being made.

dan said...

Hi Neal,

I was wondering; what's the background on the urn just above the door? It caught my eye straight off...!

Brian said...


Looks good, and during hot summers, that stone work will be a good cooling place.

I just hope they wont make to much noice that it disturbs the writer that lives there, so that he can write some more soon.

Also, try your best not to get ripped off, it sems like everytime i heard of house building and construction that the house builder is being ripped off in ways he did not envision.

Good luck, and hope to see some more pictures soon.

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

speak polish and dress in tatters. no one will rip you off! except at the gas station. jeez. time to bike.

Jebel Krong said...

i thought greece was in trouble because nobody paid any taxes, or all declared they were on the minimum wage to escape them... still their budget (and deficit) is peanuts compared with ours/france's/USA/Japan etc)

Neal Asher said...

Thanks Kirby -- it's where we'll keep the stalkers!

Well, they still sell Fenizol here, and it being a plastic foam I don't see how it could be next to useless as an insulator.

Just a render coat inside, Skar, with some stones remaining exposed just like in the main house.

Dan, Mikalis knows we like plants so he suggested he put it there for one. Coincidentally I have a weird trailing plant that just fits the bill.

Brian, getting that ruin done will result in less disturbance, since we can lock visitors in it rather than in the main house!

Vaude, in this weather I always dress in tatters. Five months of sawn-off jeans shorts.

Greece is in trouble, Jebel. The whole damned world seems to be in trouble at the moment, yet no one is starving.

Thud said...

Those lintels are not really suitable regardless of local building practise.

All said...

Neal, just downloaded Orbus onto my Android phone through Amazon. Nice to see it as an eBook, Masher always told me you hadn't yet gotten into eBooks when I asked him if you'd had any published in that format. I have all your books and now one eBook. Good stuff... Rgds, Peter