Wednesday 9 April 2014

Our house – the renovation work

At the end of March we finally moved into our little house! Well, part of our house – the upper floor to be exact – where we will live while work continues on the ground floor.

I already wrote about all the time and patience it took to buy this house. Renovating a house also requires big doses of patience and almost always takes more time than expected.

Whenever I asked the contractor (or majstor as he’s called in Croatian) how things were coming along, I would always get the same answer: 'Pomalo' (slowly). This was not exactly the answer I wanted to hear, especially since we were eager to move in as quickly as possible. But since pomalo is a standard answer to many questions here, (including How are you? How’s your job going? and even How’s your mother?), I wouldn’t take his answer too literally, and eventually just stopped asking.

The first step of the renovation process was to completely demolish the interior walls and floors of the house. Once this was complete, only the skeleton of the structure remained: the four stone walls, the windows and doors, and the roof.

The next task was to dig up the floor. Traditionally, the ground floor of Istrian houses was used as a stable while the upper floor was reserved for living quarters. For this reason, the ceiling of the lower floor where animals were kept was often quite low. So in order to have a reasonable ceiling height, we had to lower the floor by 70 centimetres. Since the village is mostly built on natural rock, this was a very long and painstaking task. It took workers two months to drill and break into the rock, break it up into pieces, and haul it away in 15 truckloads!

Breaking up the rock!
I won’t describe the reconstruction and renovation work in detail here, but I would like to share a few of the original details of this typical Istrian stone house which we would like to preserve. For example, we’ve kept the stone doorway which separates the two rooms making up the ground floor, though the wall dividing the two rooms had to be completely rebuilt. Where possible, we’ll keep the stone walls exposed on the ground floor, along with the little stone niches built into the walls. The remnants of the huge rocks the house was built on are also visible as vestiges of the original structure.

Can you see the big rock?

There’s still a lot of work to do, and I won’t dare try to guess how long it will take. But it’s wonderful to finally be living here.

Some necessary 'ingredients' for the construction process.
The South Indian cat however, was not at all happy about the move. She expressed her annoyance by not letting let us sleep the first three nights! We kept her indoors as much as possible so she’d get used to her new home, but she managed to slip away one day from the veranda. We found her the next day at the house we had been living in before the move, about 200 metres away. She misses the big garden and clover fields she used to explore, but soon she’ll have a whole village to discover, as soon as she figures out this is home.


  1. I really enjoy reading about your adventures in Istria! keep them coming! one of these days, i have to make it out there!

  2. Hi Kiran, great to hear from you! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Yes, do put a visit on your list!

  3. Congratulations on your move Isabel! Your new home is simply gorgeous,... the stone walls are stunning. I'm looking forward to seeing the continuing progress and final phases. At this point, it seems patience is key ;)

  4. Thank you Catherine! Do visit again to see how things are progressing - and whether my patience has run out!

  5. Congrats! It looks like a lot of work but you're making progress! Looking forward to the updates!

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