Week 3

The big news this week is windows and doors.  Windows and doors!  A total of 7 new openings need to be created for windows and doors to get natural light into every room and permit humans to pass through walls where necessary.

Twelve to fourteen openings need to be significantly modified for aesthetic reasons or to help minimize head-bonking.  The freakishly tall will still struggle, I’m afraid.  (You know who you are.)

Let’s get started.

This window in the rear upstairs bedroom was just too small.  Very poor lighting conditions in the room, and the window could not be enlarged because it was framed by some rather lovely worked stones forming jambs and an ogee arch lintel. Possibly an ancient element of the house.


Upon the suggestion of my clever neighbor Kathrin, we yanked the stones out of this window, thus permitting enlargement.  We moved the stones to a more prominent position on the main (southern) façade.

IMG_3729The window in the lower left was a door, formerly opening into a lean-to shed on the front of the house.   It simply did not make sense to have a door next to the main entry door.  So we filled in the wall with stones (mined from one of the many stone piles lying about the farm) up to windowsill height.  This little guy won’t let in a ton of light, but it is quite agreeable to peek through it for a view of the patio.

To the right of the ogee arch window is a new window for the “game room,” which formerly had no natural light.  I’m a big fan of this window, especially it’s lopsided lintel.  I think it’s a great addition to the façade, which currently looks like this.

IMG_3728The entrance to the game room has been raised considerably, though there is still the matter of extracting that little twig in the doorway.

IMG_3730Let there be light in the game room!  The photo below also shows the newly raised lintel on the door to the summer bath.

IMG_3731Plenty more work remains for window and door openings.  The windows themselves won’t be ready until September, so we have some time.  A set of stones ready to go into an upstairs window:

IMG_3735Princess view.  No modifications required here.

IMG_3738Meanwhile, in the guts of the building, water tubes and waste pipes climb higher, ever higher.

Bathrooms near a state of rough completion (very rough.)  Here we see the completed wall separating the living room from two bathrooms behind the wall.


Below is a new wall forming the master bedroom closet.  To the right of the closet is the door to the master bath.  All the way in the back, on the right, we have broken through into the rear bedroom.  A half flight of stairs will lead up from the rear bedroom into a new bathroom above the master bath.  The roof will be still be visible from the shower of the master bath, but the sink area will have a ceiling and another level above it.

IMG_3739More work tomorrow. . . .

Week 2

Another week of stunning progress!

A cement mixer came up the hill on Thursday and the builders poured the first layer of concrete on most of the ground floor.  Many, many plastic tubes are embedded in that slab–you can see the ends poking out in the photos.  Through these tubes will pass fresh water, waste water, heating water, electrical wire and A/V cables.

Walls are up in the family suite to delineate the wide hallway to the lounge room, the hallway and closet leading to the “vault” bedroom, and the bathroom.  Note the archway, which will remain visible both in the hallway/closet and the bath.

Meanwhile, things are still looking a bit dark and scary in the insomniac’s suite across the hall.  We’ll open a new window above the trough, so there will be more natural light.  I’m keeping the trough as an architectural element.  Not sure quite yet how to make it pretty, but I’m working on it.  Note the rock poking out in the corner of the shower and the storage niche built around the window.

Concrete slab in the game room and vaulted summer bath:


Upstairs, walls are going up to delineate the guest bath (left) and the en suite bath for an upstairs bedroom.


Jordi the Architect has issued a stop-work order on the master suite while we attempt to resolve an issue with sink placement.

Meanwhile, the paletas (masons) are working on the first window reform.  Behold a sad and misshapen door to a shed that no longer exists.  We will add stones at the bottom until this door becomes a window.  The interior of the doorway  is lined with some excellent square stones that will be repurposed as exterior jambs and lintels (sides and tops!) for some new and some refurbished windows.  This particular window will be framed by a Gothic arch that we are yanking from the west façade to accommodate a window enlargement.


Mortar delivery mechanism for upstairs masonry:


And finally, today’s brick delivery.  Jordi the Builder used his handy onboard crane to lift the pallets from the flatbed truck up to the terrace.  I helped in a manner that I would like to think was not totally useless.

Hope they are enjoying the view!

Work begins!

Apologies to my small but dedicated fan base for a long silence.  I’ve been applying for residency and a driver’s license, learning a new language, and going over round after round of architectural plans and job bids until we had enough clarity to begin work.

Jordi the Builder (JB) arrived with a bang on Monday morning with a troop ready to work.

First job: tear down that terrace extension!



Next the team attacked the ground floor rooms that are in need of the most drastic help to render them livable.  On Monday they snapped a blue line around the perimeter of every room and began to lower and level the floors to permit sufficient head room above a new concrete slab floor.

By the end of the week, the new floor levels were established.  Bricks indicate changes in level from room to room, necessitated by “la roca,” the massive slab of rock on which the house is built.  They ripped out the troughs (from which the livestock ate and drank) with jackhammers and a lot of muscle.  I am most impressed that they were able to level the floor in the “game room,” which had a serious slope.


Trenches have been dug throughout the ground floor for drain pipes and water supply pipes (red for hot and blue for cold).  Pipes poke upward ready to break through to the first floor for bathrooms and kitchen.  You can see that here in the suite familiar and the bedroom across the hall.

I am very excited for the potential of the tower bathroom and the “kids’ room” in the suite familiar.  Both showcase typical Catalan vaulted ceilings.  (Don’t worry if they still look like scary dungeons to you.  I’m on it.)

The pit and trench for the septic tank have been dug; waste pipe is laid and covered with sand. If work continues at this breakneck pace, I’m going to have a house I can actually live in. . . .