John and Debbie’s Story
Renovation and Recommendation
See more pictures of the renovation below
It’s hard to believe that it was the end of October 2004 when we decided to buy the old house that we are now, at the end of June 2005, about to move into.
Like many people we had the dream of moving abroad to a sunny, slower and less hectic way of life. We also had the dream of renovating an old house and bringing it back to life, just as we had done in the UK.
Cretanagora, under the watchful eyes of Nikos and Hilary Constantopoulos, managed to deliver both dreams to us without us getting our hands dirty!
We had looked at many old houses on various Greek islands, some just about habitable, many uninhabitable. The house we have now bought on Crete fell into the latter category.
We had looked at new properties with Nikos as he had some nice plots at reasonable prices on the edge of traditional villages, some with stunning views. But eventually we went with our original idea of an older property to be renovated. Crete as an island still offers many types of houses at, dare we say it, bargain prices compared with other Greek islands where the prices have risen sharply in recent years.
This was the first company that we had seen that offered an old house with a fixed price for a full renovation attached to it. This was the way we would keep our hands clean!
Also within the cost where the necessary building licences and local taxes, these can be hidden costs that not everyone is aware of. And it also meant that we wouldn’t have to get too heavily involved with the wheels of bureaucracy, which can grind slowly in Greece.
So after opening a bank account with the help of Nikos we returned to the UK with confidence that the house would be delivered to us by June 2005 fully renovated to our requirements at the agreed price.
We were able to meet with them over Christmas to discuss the finer details of the layout of the house. However whilst in Crete they were quick to answer any concerns that we had by either e-mail or a simple text message. We also chose tiles, worktops, kitchen and wardrobe colours via e-mail samples. Nothing was too much trouble. Nikos understands Greek building techniques and Hilary, being English, understands how the ’Brits’ like their homes so they are a good balance when you give them your requirements.
We also discussed the timings for payments that were made in stages during the renovation. This is a simple system whereby when we had sent money to our account in Crete and we would then fax the bank to release exact amounts to Cretanagora. In our case we were in a hurry at the beginning so we sent our first payment directly to Niko’s bank account and gave him a Power of Attorney to use this money to buy the property.
The company uses local craftsmen to carry out the building work, which means that their reputation is on show a lot of the time in or close to the village that they live in, so it is in their interests to do a good job.
We drove over to Crete in early May 2005 to deliver our furniture and belongings to the house and although we had received e-mail pictures of the house during renovation from friends living in the area, we were amazed at the transformation of the house. Earth floors downstairs where animals had once lived were now beautifully tiled, crooked doorways and windows were now filled with high quality aluminium frames. The two bathrooms that we specified were finished to a high standard, and we had a full rewire throughout the house. The newly rendered walls where finished in traditional white paint and some nice old features like beams and niches where restored. The builders also managed to work around the old grapevine that drapes the upper veranda of the house and gives it its name Klimataria, they also recreated a beautiful arched entrance doorway to the house. Just a few minor jobs needed finishing before we returned for good in June.
We wouldn’t hesitate in recommending Cretanagora to anyone, as the company and its people care about the work they are doing and have a love for the places where they are doing it. They have delivered our home to us within a matter of months, whereas it may have taken us much longer and with the stress that would have gone with the job and managing the budget for it. Our only task now is to concentrate on learning more Greek and settling into village life! Enjoy.