I’m back from my visit to Lefkogia, accompanied by Renata, the civil engineer (not building engineer as I mentioned in the previous article). A civil engineer (‘POLITIKOS MIKANIKOS’) is usually hired to review a specific plot and to ensure that boundaries are within the description in a title document. They can also be consulted regarding specific building restrictions in place in your chosen area. In my case Renata also did an inspection of the quality of the construction. Renata is of Greek origin, has graduated as a civil engineer in Germany and came to Crete about 20 years ago. She has a charming and straight-forward personality, but can be very firm as I was soon to find out.
The verdict? In short, the brewage was sour!
The first surprise came when Renata asked to see the Title of the property. She was presented a lined paper from a writing bloc, handwritten in three different pen colors, dated 1985. There were also a number of topographic plans, very rudimentary, that outlined the property. It all didn’t look too official to me. In the so-called “Title” three people declared that they had sold “a” property to a certain lady which turned out to be the daughter of our friend Manolis. In the Title no reference was made to the topographic plan.
In the mean time we had been joined by Manolis’ wife, their daughter and her husband. When Renata pointed out that the presented hand-written document did not qualify as a Title and would not uphold in a court or before a notary public, there was an outcry of indignation. How could she doubt their honesty? They were hard working, honest people who had been living in the area for generations! The house was hand built by their grand parents who were remembered and respected by everybody in the region still! Renata calmly explained that she was not passing judgement, that she merely stated facts. It took quite a while before the dust settled. After some free advice from Renata about the procedure to follow to get a real Title, we set off to see the property — our future dream house — itself.
I anxiously watched Renata’s expression when we entered the courtyard. She obviously did not see the charming aspects of the place, how it would look when the bougainvillea that I was going to plant would have come to full growth, covering the stone walls and the pergola that I was going to erect. Nor did she picture me sitting there in the morning sun, sipping my coffee in all tranquility, observing the sprinkles of morning dew on the spider webs in the corner between the water well and the bread oven, or me in the evening firing up the barbecue for our friends who had come to visit. None of that she saw.
What she did see was walls that were made of very low quality stone, such that everything would have to be torn down, she assured me. Not only that, tearing down the place would be a high risk venture since the neigbouring buildings were all made of the same quality stone, most probably coming crumbling down with “our house” in case I was bold enough to proceed with my plans. It would cost a fortune to build a scaffolding over “our house” to support these neighbouring houses. Since the street was very narrow, no truck could come close to the house, so that all material and debris would have to carried in and out with wheelbarrows from and to the nearby central village place. This would double the working hours at least according to Renata.
All in all, not a very pleasant prospect. I’m sorry guys, you’ll have to wait a little bit longer before you can become our guests.