Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Big Clean

A bit of a hold up this week waiting for the marble man for 3 days as he has to finish his work before zellige man can finish his work before tadelakt man can finish his work before clean up crew can finish their work and so it goes! Soon it will come to an end and I will miss the constant wallet opening......NOT. It will be time to start earning and not burning up the spondulicks.

The da capo girls have finished the front door WOW looks good enough to eat and now a big clean up starts inside on salon zellige mainly, whilst the salon kitchen gradually takes shape.
The marble counter is laid in kitchen and now zellige man can finish around the counter and we will be ready for the return of Abdelkaddir to tadelakt the last room before going on a snagging detail around the house to finish off the chips and bangs and knocks that always occur.

Had a young couple around yesterday who had just bought in the medina and found myself regurgitating my trials and tribulation of renovation to them but hopefully didnt put them off the whole experience. My last question for them was are you mad cos if you are it will definitely help along the way especially integrating with the ex pat nutters and that includes me and Pizza Mike and Antonio the Italian, definitely larger than life characters.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Back on the block

A week back in England brought me up to date with the Strictly Come Dancing on Ice finalists and the latest plot twists of Eastenders whilst staying with my mother. The trip back was to unfortunately to bury my dear old gran but was able also to catch up with the family and pop in to see Michael of Dar Mystere fame so we could compare notes on our renovations.

Back to the Medina to lots of happy workers, happy to see me as I was carrying their wages but also happy with the progress. The Da Capo ladies are on the last leg of their wood stripping campaign and its the big one, the massive front door. Doing a beautiful job and should be finished in a few days with their next job already lined up. The carpenter has been tweaking, sanding, planing all the doors and windows so that they effortlessly glide open and shut; a painstaking job. Also have another two bathrooms almost ready with all fittings in place and the main salon kitchen is tiled and ready for a marble counter to be laid before tadelakt man comes in to finish.

Looking forward to the day when the wallet is not always open as it is a constant stream of notes flying out at present as the finishing details can get quite costly and we still have to furnish the old place yet aaaaargh!!

Over next few weeks several friends coming over to check on progress and also possibly to invest in Fes or Chaouen with varying budgets. There are still some small houses in the under 20000 euros bracket in Fes and 40000 in Chaouen would get you a funky medina house with great views.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Tadelakt or is it Cadillact

Had some new visitors around with Josephine and we discussed the tadelakt or the fact that it was a version of tadelakt to which the quip was well why not call it Cadillact.. top of the line, so thats what it will be from now on in.

Came back from my weeks sojourn to find so much done in the house it was amazing, the front door was dacapoed or stripped to reveal honey coloured cedar and all bathrooms are now Cadillact. The shower room for the intermediary bedroom now looks exquisite with some artistic licence taken in the zellige as you can see in the photo which works well and the luscious lemon tadelakt walls. The other bathroom is a vibrant aquamarine blue equally cool. Also majority off all doors and window frames are now stripped and locks and handles are being fitted. Was able to have a steaming hot bath on my first night back soI was a very happy bunny indeed

We just have to finish the main salon kitchen and a storeroom so choosing marble counter from the factory was priority today and getting zellige ordered for the floors. When this work is done Abdelkaddir will come in to finish his penultimate tadelakt job with another lemon finish in the kitchen. This kitchen area has been an eyesore for so long it will be good to see it done at last. After this it will be snagging work for him walking round the house to see the little repair jobs and then he will be paid up and LISTEN UP FOLKS he is looking for the next job so my advice is to nab him. This is what i did when he had finished Sandys job and though not cheap you do get quality which is important over price any day.

I have to take off again on Thurs to go to my old Grans funeral in England so time to draw up another worklist although Moannis knows the house as well as I do these days so he can pre emt what I want done, and with Ben as my eyes and ears the project is in good hands.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Blue View and Rif too

Im just going to let the pictures speak for themselves really, the top one is the liveliest butchers shop Ive ever seen as they chase your order around the counter. The Rif in all its glory, absolutely stunning and theres Archi reclining in the fjord near Akrou contemplating carpet sales no doubt. The electric blue Aladdin restaurant in town is one of my faves a minaret every metre is the theme and theres a couple of shots of the house I am putting deposit on tonight only so that no one can grab it whilst I scour for shekels and await a reply from the Aussies as to their involvement.

Lots of interesting property here folks and I have done all the groundwork sourced simsaars and local contacts as well as checking out workmen, best deals on wood for furniture and where the locals get their carpets. I picked up a hundred year old carpet nicely worn, huge it was and paid the equivalent of 45 pounds, I know in Fes it could be up to 10 times more i will check with the boys when I get back tomorrow.

I am in love with the Big C it is the most laidback, tranquil but still vibrant place with real life, real people and unreal views, the views, the views are out of this world as are some of the Kif smokers in another way.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Taking care of business

Left Fes for the Big C leaving Moaniss in charge with Ben with a 3 page worklist for all the workers so we all knew what was expected in my absence. Spent a good two hours on the morning of departure ensuring everyone on the case and left a float for contingencies with Moaniss. Starting to put the pressure on them now subtly and me leaving at this time should ensure a spurt of activity to impress me on my return, thats the theory.

In the house at this time we have a carpenter putting wooden counter bar in the kitchen, plumber putting all bathroom fittings together so I should have at least one functioning bath and shower and three man plaster and tadelakt team who are giving the whole house and bathrooms their critically acclaimed finish. Their tadelakt work continues to amaze and even had the esteemed David Amster admiring the quality without quite being able to put his finger on exactly how it was achieved and what was in the secret lime mix.

Theres also of course thee Da Capo ladies and Mernissi whos sole job this week is to clear and clean all terraces. The metalman will be making stairway down from top terrace to next level terrace and the builder is oddjobbing throughout the house after laying the glass floor in the intermediary bedroom. The zellige team are finishing tiling floors in two bathrooms and finishing kitchen in apartment. So its all go as I left so lets leave them to it shall we and take a break in the Big C.

Reporting now from Chefchaoen as I have been up here four days now trying to relax but invariably it has been all househunting. On the first visit with Pete and Karen here we found an incredible house on the top edge of the medina and parking next door and a garden a huge bonus. It looked straight out of a magazine and we decided it had to be bought especially at 39000 euros even though my money is tied up in the Fes property i figured somewhere along the line i could find 13000 as a share as it could take 5 months to complete. My experience with an ex partner before should have warned me about getting involved in another project of that type but hey ho you only live once, and people over here leap into projects with such abandon and spirit of adventure that its refreshing although probably not rational.

Anyway this visit was to put a small deposit down and i mean small about 1000 dh and this would hold the house until paperwork was ready, it has been promised ages ago but not materialised. The house would then be signed for in 6 months when Karen and Pete return from Oz. As it stands it would make 3 two bed apartments with a top terrace and its value then would double we estimate if not more. Anyway we shall wait and see as the months progress but prices here are climbing almost daily.

Linked up with Archi in his shop my multilingual carpet man and general right hand man and spent my first night as a guest in his semi built house on a hilltop overlooking the town, with his family. We sat eating kefta and watching the stars from his bijou garden planning the coming days.

The next day at the shop bumped into two girls, Susan who lived near Ronda in Spain and her friend Charmaine who lived in Dubai for her sins as a nurse but also had a small property portfolio in England and looking to add to it over here. Alongside Archi we all went on a mission to look at property and i found myself in the simsaar role evaluating each house according to price,size,condition and views etc. They kept telling me I was good at my job and I suppose I am as I have picked up so much knowledge over the year but now should be the time to charge a fee for services rendered. This became clear when both girls found a property they liked and we ran around finding the owners and paperwork and hammering out fair prices.

By the third day deposits were changing hands and bank accounts were being opened and it was all getting serious especially as both girls asked if I could manage the reform of their houses. So I could see another project coming together alongside the house with Pete and Karen that could earn a few shekels especially if I brought Archi in as the chantier as he has his head screwed on on that front as well.

So with Mernissi house galloping to the end of its refit and spending next month kitting it out etc the ongoing Chaoen projects in a few months time could tie in nicely we shall see. Also have been getting a few emails from potential investors, friends from home and could start lining up stuff for them to see as well. You have to keep busy here and have a few irons in the fire so to speak and be able to adapt to whatever is required of you at whatever time.