Renovating a cave - what comes first?

Being stung by the same wasp twice in my mouth was not a nice experience to say the least, in the campo you learn very quickly to buy bottled beer with a screwcap top -wasps love beer! Having no water to the cave our neighbours kindly agreed to let us use theres, this involved numerous trips per day to next doors hose pipe to fill up drums of water for the caravan. Showers were quite pleasant having left a 20 gallon drum of water out in the sun all day the water becomes quite warm.

The main priority in any unreformed cave is the bathroom. Bedrooms and living rooms come last - it is essential to have a fully functional bathroom as soon as possible. This however does require a Spanish plumber and more importantly WATER! Application to the town hall was made for our water connection 30 days before we got it (and even then it was only an outside tap) In between then trenches had to be dug for waste pipes and gradients calculated for a sufficient slope to the pozo negro (cesspit)The rule of gravity dictates that poo does not roll uphill so the pipe system had to be carefully planned. In a lot of caves the bathroom is generaly built onto the front with the kitchen near the front also, in our cave though the bathroom is near the middle of the cave which is to some extent unusual, however all that was involved was 10 metres of extra waste pipe and much more digging.

We had employed local Spanish builders to construct our cesspit and also make safe the ceilings in 3 rooms - one of which was the bathroom. The floor in the bathroom had to dropped by 18 inches to allow for headroom (allways dig down never up!)which meant the waste pipe had to be 46 inches at the front door to meet the pipe to the cesspit - getting the two to match on a gradient was not easy.

Electrical channelling is advisable as one of your first jobs, the fact that it creates so much dust is reason in itself to get it out the way with asap. I went through two bosch grinders making channnels for "conduit" throughout the whole cave. Another tip is to plan your electrics carefully, really sit down and think about where you want your switches and sockets, do they need to be double? ceiling lights or wall lights? and make your switches all the same height from the floor.

*A note on dimmer switches: Do buy dimmers from the UK if you really want them, dimmer switches retail for 35 euros+ in rural Spain the equivilent from B&Q or Homebase is 10 euros

By the time September came around the builders had nearly finished and we were being warned about how cold it gets in the winter. Building the chimney was relativly easy. I had never laid a brick in my life but had mixed cement so off I went up onto the roof, the hole through the roof was already there it just needed a chimney on top. The lightning in Spain can be quite spectacular at 900m above sea level except I was a little higher, a fork came down probably about 1/4 of a mile away - it was at this point I decided that the chimney would wait until the next day.

Note: Electricity - apply for it immediatly if you do not allready have it. In some cases it can can take up to 5 months to be connected sometimes longer. A 3.3kw supply will be sufficient for a normal family home but you can pay a little extra and get 4.4/5.5/6.6 or even more should you require it

Water heaters/boilers: We have a 1200 watt electric boiler and boy does it make that meter spin! I would advise a gas boiler although due to new safety regulations these have to fitted externaly to the property ie, an outhouse or gargage etc

Next up...Renovating on a budget? What you should bring from the UK and what to leave behind.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Pero shiquilla a quien se le ocurre meterse en una cueva con las casas tan preciosas que hay en esa zona.