Posted by: puebloman | November 21, 2009


We are just about to finish our fourth “floor” project. First we floored the kitchen, then the sitting space, then the big outside terrace and now the last space, a workshop cum office. When we bought the cottages in Cutar, they came with four large rooms beneath them, which we decided to convert into a flat for our permanent use. Before that, every time we let a property we had to move house and we always had to leave one place empty for our own use. We moved into this space about 18 months ago, but the building was by no means finished.

When we started, our nice neighbours put a bottle of Cava on ice for us for a mini housewarming party. Three years on they sold their house and are moving back to the UK so it will be ironic if they get back to England with the Cava before we finish the flat.

It looked a simple project, as these things always do. There were four rooms, a supply of electricity and water. Everything was more or less neat except for the weird painting on the doors and walls and cylinder locks on each of the internal doors, which gave the impression that the rooms had been lived in by the family lunatic (or four family lunatics) like Mrs Rochester, whose ravings had been confined to a cellar rather than the loft.

It took about a year for me to summon the courage  to to knock out the flimsy internal wall that joined the first two rooms, after advice from builder friends artist friends and architect friends, all given “without prejudice” had proved unhelpful. When I finally took the sledgehammer to it and the one bedroom cottage didn’t collapse into where we’d planned to build a kitchen, Jude and I gathered our collective confidences together and started laying floors. Eight tons of concrete later (the Andalucian kitchen built by Jude the back terrace built by me and the FLOORS) and three years of part-time work done in between the lets, we are on our last floor. After all this time our supportive friends have run out of platitudes, and even enthusiasts from England who used to gush “You know you’ve come so much further than you think . .you’ve done so much . . . ” Are now thankfully reduced to a thoughtful “Um”.  As in –  “I’m glad I’m not them”.

Anyway. Floors. Ours are laid with “rusticos”. These are hand-made biscuit fired tiles, a good centimetre thick. Don’t gush, theyre cheap as chips and less than a euro each. Hand-made, however, is a double edged quality. It means you can’t guarantee the thickness, let alone the actual size of the tile. Last week having bought 60 tiles to finish our fourth floor, I took one back the local merchant I’d bought them from:

Me: Hi, you said these tiles were 30x30cms

He: Tha’ts right

Me: But these are 29×29 – look (I measure it)

He: That’s right they’re hand made.

Me: But I’ve laid half a fllor with 30×30’s!

(The entire family emerge from where they were boxing dried figs)

Father: Sometimes the clay shrinks in the mold. You never can tell . .

Brother: Come over here (he takes me to some concrete lintels) Measure that (Ido so)

Me: 65 cms

Brother: That’s a 75cm lintel! See? Hand made!

Me: What can I do?

He; Well, bring this stuff you bought back, I’ll give you your money back. Go to the shop where you got all the 30’s and hope they’ve got some more.

Well I did, and they did. The lesson is to buy all the tiles you need at once for your whole floor even if it wrecks your car.

Our floors are like a City and Guilds course in flooring. You walk through all the mistakes, idiocies, bad choices and compromises until you get to our FOURTH FLOOR, which is PERFECT!

Well, obviously the room isn’t square. . .and it slopes . . still . . !

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