Construction site

Our proposal on how to organize the building site is: first of all put up a camping site! Since we have to be there, work there, check that everything is going well and try to minimize risks, it is the best solution! An outdoor gas kitchen made out of used windows found around the villages was the first thing to build. Water tanks are filled every other day from the springs of Potamia, which is by the way very tasty drinkable water! A working table with benches were build for eating, drawing and planning. And my parents 70s style tent was perfect for our sleeping nest. At the same time the whole area towards the river is full of oak trees with perfect shadow to pich a tent under, as Rafa did.

On the 5th of August we finally got the building licence!!! 
It took almost 3 moths to complete the procedure. On the 9th of May the architectural designs were committed, on the 13 of June the architectural committee approved them, on the 15 of July were signed and on the 5 of August the statical study was approved and licence was finally given! Fast? or slow?

So we started building on our plot. Here are some impressions of the first weeks of work.


The excavation of the small house started first. The foundation slap is 40cm deep so in one day the hole was ready. What is really frustrating at the beginning of the building process is that by digging for the foundations the landscape is all the time suffering. Hills of earth and stones are piled up covering vegetation and terraces. A total of 335cubic meters of earth and stone was extracted! Although everyone is reassuring that in the end it will come together again its quite difficult at the moment to look at the field and imagine how to handle all this massive volumes of dump.
Broken dry stone walls had to be fixed at the same time around the excavations so that filling in with extract material could start soon.

Our first dry stone wall is ready! Building a dry stone wall is not so difficult as it may first seem. If you understand the method of stone structure in order to be stable, then the work goes on slow and steady as a puzzle in form of meditation...

Due to the fact, that we won´t be connected to the public water supply, the rainwater cistern which has a volume of 100cubic meters has always been of central importance in the planning process. The excavator was working for 4 days to get the huge hole  of 12x7x3 meters ready for the shuttering. Luckily 40% of the extract is good quality building stones that we can use for the construction of the houses. 

One of the old stone wrecks had to be torn down  because by lack of information from the mechanic the wreck was declared invalid and license was given for rebuilding  something from the beginning. This means it has to have concrete foundation which is earthquake resistant! Unfortunately we found this out too late to change it and we have to follow the rules! Old timers used to build on rock, modern times demand breaking the rock and pooring 30cm concrete. It took 5 days the machine to break the rock, a huge pile of extract is layed beside and 9 cubic meter of concrete will be poored. It definitely looks that the old timers had got it right. This will be our utility house with all the machinery of solar and wind power generators, water system installations, pumps, filters etc.
Our first important job was to place all the tubing inside the concrete. Toilet black water, grey water from shower and kitchen, fresh water coming in, were all placed in exact positions, with slopes 1,5%, and stabilized on iron bars, fixed with concrete at the bottom and wired on the iron bars of the foundation. Also electric tubes were placed in position of plugs and switches which will be connected with an outside network going around the foundation. Extra empty pipes were placed for wires to pass through. This quite sophisticated plan is made in 3D and will be published on the blog soon!

The cistern is ironed, floor and walls. Iron bars are placed in a greed of 15cm. That's a lot of iron!! But the hole is big and the 100cubic meters of water will put a lot of force to the walls. The floor plate of the cistern is 35cm thick.


The concrete is poored, first the floor is filled in, then the walls. Vidos, the beton man from Steni village, with his men is on full action. 40 cubic meters of concrete was poored in and it took more than 4 hours to finish the job. The concrete has been enriched with a chemical against humidity DOMYLCO CHEM Waterproof, and a chemical that makes it more fluid in order not to add water. But, as always it seems here, water was added in the dose at a point that the concrete was not running out from the pipe!!

The concrete is spread evenly on the surface. All the installation, sewage, electricity, water pipes are in place! Hopefully the slope of 5 degree is not changed by the force of the concrete pouring down.

 The helicopter machine is tried out by Vidos and Nikos. At the point that the concrete is dry that you can step on but its still workable this machine makes it smooth and fine, covering holes and bumps, and in the end it can be the floor of the utility house.

Water inside the stone builded houses is one of the commonest problems that any stone house will have to deal with. Knowing that we tried to conceal the house taking any measures possible! The first step was to prepare the waterproofing of the foundations. A perimeter of bricks were placed that would be built in the wall and would create a natural barrier of the water coming in from the gap between the concrete and the stone wall.

Then a not pleasant bitumen was painted with brushes on the foundation slap and on the bricks. The firm chosen was PENETRON 2 component and a primer before which was terrible to smell and inhale, definitely use a good mask. Next time we would used a latex based material with 1 component. Also we tried to put a grid first but the primer and the bitumen did not stick well on it so its not recommended. Better use a geotextile that the company sell together. But the final output surface is thick and elastic and it looks quite waterproof!!!

The stone building started with the Utility house to check out the technique of the builders and say what we like, how we like it and find an agreeable appearance and method. We asked them to use the stones form the excavation and the old stable and that made the building colors very nice blended with the surrounding.At the back wall we placed a plastic membrane to direct the water behind the wall and collect it into a drainage pipe underneath.

At the back wall we formed a drainage channel. First we made a slope out of concrete, formed with a piece of plastic tube, then we placed the geotextile, on top the plastic tubes PVC 75 diameter, that we had made holes with a drill before, and on top we covered it with gravel to drain better.


The construction went faster than we expected, this is the 3rd day and they are almost at the top. We had little time to make adjustments, in some parts the stone rythm is lost and small stones are used more often. Another problem that we noticed is that if the cleaning of the concrete around the stones was not made well and without a rush then there were holes left and it looks bad.

At some point they had to leave without finishing the cleaning of the concrete around the stones. I dont mind doing it my self, actually I liked it and I can do it taking my time, however this day it started raining after and the wet concrete run and stained the stones unfortunately!

So the Utility house reached the top of 2,25 meters and now we are waiting for the roof to be constructed. A small staircase was also constructed at the side by sticking out some long stones while building it. One problem that occured because of our inexperience, the absence of the architect and the builders speed was that we didnt construct an concrete ring inside the wall!

The small house is next. We explained the builders about the stone rythm that we like, using bigger stones connecting to one another, they got it! At the small house the electrical tubes are also placed inside the wall. We used the Kouvidis hard tubes which can stand on their own and are easier to be built in. Also we prepared wooden frame boxes for the plugs and switches to fit in the wall.

In the middle  of the construction it was decided to make a ring out of concrete. We asked an experienced mechanic from Patras, Teukris Sakelaropoulos, and he said that at least one should be made, better two. Xatzis, our stone chief, was not happy about building a very thin wall around it, since at least 20cm should be the concrete ring with iron bars inside, only 15cm from both sides were left for stone wall. In the end he did it, and the workers managed to put only a few vertical ones 'panagitses' as they call them here, which is wrong from the static force of the stone.

 The stones over the windows and doors, called 'prekia', have to be 40cm bigger than the front opening in order to stand on the side wall and 60cm wide in order to stand out 10cm more to protect the opening from the rain. These massive stones weight more than 150-200 kilos. To lift them up, at 2.50m height and place them was a team job and time for a small raki celebration!

Around the top a perimetric ring of stones sticking out 5cm is constructed in order to protect the walls from the rain. Its called the "eyebrow" of the building.

The small excavator is appropriate to prepare the ground for stone wall foundations, stairs, and the sewage tubing that has to pass under them.

A high wall is constructed behind the terrace of the big house to protect it from the north winds. There we asked the stone workers to make a lot of small shelves in a random and more freestyle shape.

The stairs are constructed connecting the big house with the Utility in the middle and the small house upstairs and slowly the surrounding starts to have a final look.

 The cistern roof which is the veranda of the big house is colored by throwing powder while flattened with the helicopter machine. A hardener was added immediately after the concrete was poured making the surface hard and solid.

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