Chairs in Boljun (Bogliuno)

Chairs in Boljun (Bogliuno)

The foundation has been laid and the crucial wall is half up! Plus – and most importantly – we have the final building permit – whoo, hoo!

One may wonder how come that the foundation was laid before the permit arrived, well, the law says (I’ve been told) that one can start the build if by what one is doing they are preventing something bad to happen (I am sure that the actual legal wording is a bit different, but this is the gist). In our case, as we demolished most of the old house that was there, there was a danger that the neighbour’s land could slide as it is about 1.5m above our ground level – you can see that to the right on the pictures below.

Foundation is laid - 14 December 2011

Foundation is laid – 14 December 2011

So we did the necessary work to prevent that in case of heavy rain. And then the permit arrived to our postbox as a New Year’s gift on 3 January – so, theoretically, we are now go, go, go!

Now let me tell you a bit more about the team working on this. Sometime in May 2011, as we pretty much knew what we wanted to achieve, we started gathering offers from contractors. We knew we wanted someone local. Because it is nice to employ local people. “This is a local shop for local people” after all 🙂 We need them on the build as well as for any future needs – fixing any issues that may (will?) arise and I hope this is about building relationships with people that we will hopefully be living with in the local community.

I started on my own. Branko and Vjeko (the architect) came up with the initial list of things to do – one on which we were to base the initial cost estimate. Then Branko gave me his offer. I also approached another contractor – GIP Karojba – who came in with their offer. I also contacted couple of other contractors whom I met at the property but didn’t like them much – not serious enough. I knew I wanted a “proper” company who would not only be able to do all the aspects of the job but also help me in making decisions and suggesting best solutions – based on their experience in building similar things around there.

Just as I started to really worry about how the hell am I going to decide as I really wanted to work with Branko, but his offer was a bit high and GIP guys also looked perfectly fine – and despite a few negotiating courses behind me, I don’t praise myself as great negotiator –  Zdenko showed up.

Supporting (north) wall - 22 December 2011

Supporting (north) wall – 22 December 2011

Zdenko is Martina’s father and Martina is of one of my best friends. He is also an uncle of another friend of mine – Danijela – and I met him after not seeing him for some time at Danijela’s phD (!) ceremony. So we started chatting as they drove me back home, I was telling him about my project, Zdenko explained what he does, suggesting he might be able to help me with both the negotiation and perhaps the whole build.

I debated that proposition for some time as A) I am a very capable woman who of course can run a building project even if she never ran any other building project before. B) I was a reasonably successful IT project/programme/whatever manager in “a major-ish UK IT company”, triple winner of the “employee of the year” contest. This surely cannot be that much different. C) I saw ALL Grand Design episodes, many more than once. Which qualified me.

Still, the wise me and a few friends convinced me that it is worth giving Zdenko a go. So we went to Istria together to meet GIP people and it didn’t take long for me to figure out that no way  a builder will ever talk to me in the same way as they do to him. And I don’t even have boobs. I mean, people do look me in the face.

Zdenko is a seasoned building industry professional, who runs his own building consultancy. He knows the lingo and is familiar with how much things cost. So, there and then, at the lovely lunch in Motovun, (GIP owns main Motovun hotel which is run by a very lovely owner’s daugter and her husband who showed us around) I decided Zdenko will definitely take me through negotiation process between Branko and GIP.

After successful negotiation (Branko won, or more truthfully, we “made it work”, so were happy with the end offer), I decided Zdenko will take us through the complete build as “an independent project manager/consultant”. He is here to reassure me about building stuff I don’t understand and guide me through the process – most importantly, he helps me in keeping costs under control. Together with Vjeko (the architect) and Sladjana who works for Branko and runs this project from contractor side of things, we make a pretty cool little team.

So far, this works splendidly and I would recommend “Zdenko like” person to anybody doing any build or remodeling.

Which won’t be an easy task as for now, it is really hard to say no to anything extra that comes up. It all seems really necessary. And I have already added a few things extra myself. I’ve been told by my great friend Nives, an architect and a mother of three perfect little girls (and of course a wife 🙂 who few years ago finished building their family home near Zagreb – you get really tough towards the end as the money runs out.

Our main task now is to build all the walls up to the point of starting the roof. Then we will take a really good stock at the money situation and decide if we will fit the pool in phase one or not. Fingers crossed that we will.

Garden gnomes in Savičenta (Svetvinčenat, Sanvincenti)

Garden gnomes in Savičenta (Svetvinčenat, Sanvincenti)