Restoration diary

Restoration work started on our old Istrian stone house in January 2012. What horrors would we uncover when the work began? Follow our adventure below.

Onward, onward, ever onward

07/06/2012
Channels everywhere at Kovaci, Istria

It’s been the driest winter and spring anyone can remember. As April begins, cooler, cloudy weather arrives, but the drought runs on – bad for the garden (everything’s as dry as a bone), but great for building work. This week, Kovaci is inundated with workers, upstairs in the barn takes shape and I lose...
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Barnstorming progress

26/05/2012
Front of Kovaci barn, Istria showing quirky window alignment

March ended with yet another glorious week of warm sunshine: more like summer than early spring. In Kovaci, the barn was the focus of everyone’s attention this week – a lot needed to be done to bring it up to the same standard as the house.   Progress – what progress? The sight greeting...
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Beams, barn and continuing sunshine

05/05/2012
1st floor of barn in Kovaci, Istria

A lot of activity around beams this week: Miro finishes one set in the house and Amir lays floorboards on another in the barn. In glorious sunshine, a window appears in the barn and work starts on its roof. I choose a door, finally get to look out of the hay-loft window and almost...
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New neighbours, scary rumours and mild panic

02/05/2012
Stonemason crafting Kovaci property's beautiful gateway in Istria

The Opcina property is sold to Italians and rumours send me into a worried spin. A financing road-block slows work, but things still proceed, with trenches everywhere and some quality stone and wood work.   Neighbours are a concern for any property and at Kovaci, we had four adjacent properties. Only two were occupied,...
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Fast forward in Spring sunshine

23/04/2012
Toni in his beloved JCB in Kovaci, Istria

In glorious weather, work shifts outside and moves on apace. The pool emerges from its formers and is back-filled into the garden, and work progresses rapidly on the šupa. The house gains a front door and the windows arrive, but the stairs disappear! And I finally make a decision about tiles.   Dramatic progress...
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More project creep … and Miro’s on an economy drive

14/04/2012
The team at work replacing the supa roof in Kovaci, Istria

Despite miscommunication, mis-translations and mislaid e-mails, work progresses steadily. I add yet more to an over-packed schedule, the pool starts taking shape and warmer weather finally arrives. Miro and I go shopping and, in a strange reversal of typical roles, I seem intent on spending money while Miro tries saving it!   Super šupa...
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Set-backs, mistakes, confusion … and forward progress

02/04/2012
Sand-lined hole for pool & JCB at Kovaci, Istria

A string of problems, inside and out, test my resolve, and mistakes test my temper this week. Do we find solutions and, most importantly, do I finally lose my cool?   Now the pool won’t fit… I started this week with a visit to the house to discuss the garden with my gardener, Davor....
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Decisions, kitchens and furniture

24/03/2012
Pool location under a huge pile of rubble

Like most of Europe, Istria continued to freeze in the second week of February. But despite over-night temperatures below -10°C, work moves forward apace in the house and many decisions need to be made. With P away in the UK, I go furniture hunting and … complicating my life even further … started daydreaming...
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Plummeting temperatures and a week of small panics

12/03/2012
Mixing concrete in sub-zero temperatures in Kovaci, Istria

Week three of our Istrian house restoration project sees temperatures tumble and my confidence falter, as my translator Miran disappears … and things don’t seem to be going quite to plan.   Abandoned? Week three did not start well. First, I was unable to reach Miran by phone to set up a progress meeting...
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The pace quickens … and off comes the roof

28/02/2012
Skeleton of the oof against a blue, blue Istrian sky

Work progressed very quickly in the first week of our Istrian house restoration project. Will things continue as rapidly and smoothly in week two, when the plumber and electrician arrive on site, the roof’s replaced and the sink debate runs on?   One sink or two? Week two started with me investigating bathroom sinks...
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It’s our house – let’s knock it about!

23/01/2012
Valter handing us the key for Kovaci in Istria

Busy, busy, busy. At last, we reached final contract stage for our new house. Then, with it barely paid for, we started gutting it. So inevitably, this week’s focus has been restoration, but we also find time for lunch with Pip … and I get a history lesson.   We take ownership… Life in...
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Let chaos reign!

17/01/2012
Builder bringing the ceiling down

    We only bought the house yesterday (Monday). By 9:30 am today (Tuesday), the builders are ripping it apart.                                                    
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