Now that we were able to actually see the property we had bought, it was our opportunity to work out how to start the refurbishment.   How were we going to start this?

We were given a lot of advice and guidance on how to work with the local specialists and builders; and we made the decision to take this advice.  The first step was for us to work through our design.

We decided that we needed to start with our plans for the first half of the house and not try and design it all.  So we looked at what we actually needed to be able to stay in the house.  We decided that the first area of rebuild had to be the bedroom and bathroom.  OK, so why no kitchen?  Well in the climate that is there, a small fridge and a preparation area would be all we need with fresh vegetables and cold meats.  So we looked at the house and finalised our thoughts and made the decision that the single story part of the house becomes the bedroom, bathroom, storage room and car terrace.  Once we had made this decision we felt on top of the world.

Now we had to sit down with our plans and really decide what we were looking for in this space.  After 10 design ideas, all drawn out using Microsoft Excel, we came up with our agreed plans.  December, 2008 saw us discussing these in detail with a recommended building company.  We gave them a copy of the plans and walked them through our ideas.  We then met up with them a week later and discussed the details of the quote.  One of the things we had become aware of was the lack of storage space in these houses – no lofts!  So adding a storage space to our design became very important.

As part of this process we also looked at and pulled an outline together of our design for the two story part of the house.  Building regulations allowed us to put a third level on this structure; and we included this in our design.

In our exploration of the property in a lot more detail we found a hidden treasure – we found a wine press with only one piece missing.  We ensured that this building was locked up safely before we came back to the UK.

On our return to the UK, we then had to look at funding the first phase.

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