Building our house, part 1
I would also like to share with you the story of how we build our house. It has been quite a process and all in all, it took 3 years. But I am very proud of what we (especially Bine) have achieved. Because it is too much to write down at once, I will do this in several parts. So see here: part 1.
When we still lived in a rented house in Predoslje, near Kranj, and we found out that we would most likely have to move out of it in the near future, we slowly started looking around for a house to buy. My mom, at the time, already had a dream to buy a holiday home in Slovenia. She wanted to buy an old house and then completely renovate it. My mother has most certainly been a construction worker in a previous life ;). My father was not yet sure about the idea and so Mom asked me to search for houses on the internet with her. She herself is totally anti-computer and doesn’t even know how to turn one on, that’s why she needed my help.
At one point, we found an old house that looked pretty decent in the pictures. It had water and electricity, almost 1800 meters of land and it only cost € 38,000. I don’t know how we did it, but an appointment was made for a viewing and the four of us drove there in October 2008. This was our first encounter with Gradenc :).
Because the bridge in Žužemberk was just being renovated at the time, the road was closed and we had to take a long detour. We all thought, “Where the hell are we going?” It seemed like an endless drive, but eventually, we arrived at our destination. The owner was an elderly man who had inherited the house from an old man he had taken care of. He himself lived in an apartment in Ljubljana and did not want to renovate this house. He came there for the occasional weekend and it was empty for the rest of the time. It was clear that he wanted to get rid of it. From the outside, it seemed quite habitable, but once inside it turned out not to be the case at all. What a mess! It was a typical house of this area, long and narrow and divided into three parts. The entrance in the middle, where there was a kitchen, and left and right a room, one for living and one for sleeping. People used to live here with 12 children!
The center of the house was the kitchen but it was a so-called “black kitchen”. That means that the entire space was covered under centimeters of soot! In the past, cooking (and heating) was done on a wood stove but without a chimney. The reason these houses didn’t have a chimney was that the houses used to have thatched roofs and a chimney was of course a very great fire hazard. So the smoke lingered in the room and that caused layers and layers of soot on the ceiling and walls.
The room on the left was a somewhat liveable, but this whole part turned out to have wooden walls. The other (two-thirds) section was built with stones and clay and the walls were about 50-60 centimeters thick. It would be a huge job to remodel this house.
My parents soon decided that it was way too much for them and decided against the purchase. The surroundings were of course beautiful and Bine and I were still young so that gave me the idea to buy it for us. I talked to Bine about it and to make a long story short …… Bine and I decided to go on this adventure and buy this house and start renovating :). It was affordable (we eventually bought it for € 32,000) and the benefits of the beautiful surroundings, a nice piece of land and realizing our own place were more than worth it.
In January 2009, the house was officially ours and we had already made all kinds of plans. We started by purchasing a second-hand caravan that we put in the garden so that we could stay there for the weekends and do some things around the house to make the plot more orderly and to prepare for the start of the remodeling. We had decided to move to Gradenc after the end of the school year so that Larsen and Lexi could finish their school year in Predoslje and then start their new school in Žužemberk after the holidays. It was kind of scary for all of us, but we were also really looking forward to it!