Cleaning House

Wednesday 9 August the final purchase contract was signed. All four heirs had traveled to an administration office, as well as our dutchspañol real estate agent Frank and former Penadexo resident Angél who came as a witness.

In the first week of August, we had already started a major clean-up of the house. After all, we had a signed option to buy with down payment, and none of the four sisters showed any interest in the stuff from the house. However, we found a handful of family photos and papers such as their mother’s death certificate, from 1982. More on that later.

With my brother and mother visiting, we were able to make great strides. More than 20 large trash bags were filled, mostly with old clothes. Furniture that was falling apart from misery was separated from the few that still deserve a second life. Moldy mattresses got a single ticket to the municipal dump. We literally had to muck out the stable downstairs. Rotten parts of the floor I slammed out. Wherever there is floor now, it is safe to walk.

Our village square is now smooth enough for camping. My mother’s old lawnmower gratefully serves as a municipal worker of Penadexo. The paths and plots that I have already cut twice with machete and brush cutter can be maintained much faster now.

With a signed sales contract, there is no further need to remain discreet. The location is final, it is done!

But as they say, be careful what you wish for, as your wish might actually get fulfilled! Initial success creates an obligation to continue on the path taken. Specifically, this means:

1. Restoring electricity.
The house we bought was disconnected in 2006, the neighbours’ in 2010. The wooden poles in the village were recently replaced with poles made of concrete. In practice, only a cut cable needs to be reconnected. Bureaucratic procedures could possibly throw a spanner in the works. I will find out with the electrician from Pobra.
An alternative in the form of hydropower is possible. A month back, I discovered that Penadexo actually has an old water mill. Since grain is harvested in summer, one can deduce that even in the driest months, the stream provides enough power to set heavy millstones in motion. Thus has enough thrust to power a few households.

Poor baby from the slums of Penadexo

2. Water
Penadexo’s old water system no longer works and is highly unlikely to be restored as it was. The system is fed from a spring below Pradelas. Angél’s father bought a plot specifically for that purpose. From here, 500 metres of pipe run to a tank built on a plot above the sister house, now officially owned by us. This tank is damaged, but we can reuse it. 500 metres of pipe plusin the neighbourhood of 1,500 euros.

For the moment, I have cleaned up a spring situated below Penadexo. For now it provides clean drinking water, and in time this will be a nice spot for recreational use. According to tradition, we can name the spring after a saint, but so far I have not found a suitable saint. This is because the saint in question with meet two requirements: He or she must have worked for freedom, against oppression 2. The saint’s date must fall in the summer, so that it can be linked to a festival. Perhaps we should choose someone like Voltaire, Friedrich Von Hayek, Socrates or Adam Smith.

In addition to the spring, I have discovered five wells in the village so far. These are 1. on the left below the Viking House 2. in the Boar House 3. behind the annex of the former Sister’s House 4. In the plot between the Sister’s House & Pepito and 5. In Concha’s house (next to our house)

3. The roof
The biggest challenge of the project is the roof. The large natural slates were held in place by nails. These rusted through, causing the tiles to slide out of place. My first idea was to replace the entire roof with sandwich panels. According to Angél, however, this is not necessary, for the existing roof can be repaired simply by sliding the tiles back in place. Next, you can insulate the roof with sprayed polyurethane foam. The first option of sandwhich panels, the material cost is 6,000 euros, while option two costs only 1,500 euros in materials. But in both cases, it is a job I cannot handle alone, as the slates can weigh up to 20 kilos. So one needs scaffolding and/or aerial work platforms and a few extra hands. It is probably the biggest cost of the project.

4. What else?
In 2006, the house was habitable but primitive. Initially, we shall restore it as it was, and make improvements bit by bit. Large parts of the floor have rotted through where the roof was leaking and the floor underneath is made of pine. These floor boards need to be replaced with chestnut. Some windows and doors at the back of the house are also completely rotten.
Next, we divide it into three living sections and a workshop. Each living section needs its own kitchen, bathroom and wood-burning stove. Single glazing needs to be replaced with double glazing, each house needs its own entrance. The stable doors downstairs need to be replaced with windows. Everything has to be wired, et cetera et cetera.

Anyway, if freedom was easily available everyone would do it!

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