Tag Archives: Home improvement

Waterproofing the Roofing


January was wet.  Very wet.  There is a flat roof over the bathroom in our back house (our summer house) and it was just bare concrete.  Concrete absorbs water and the concrete absorbed the rain to the extent that the paint started coming off the outside of the house and also off the inside of the bathroom ceiling.

flatroofCNot a pretty sight and potentially quite damaging.

Ashley and Zeki did some research, talked to the guys in the building supply shop and came up with a solution.

The roof has been covered in roofing felt and bitumen.  The walls have been re-plastered and re-painted.  This was two days of solid work (plus another day of painting for Ashley afterwards).  We seem to have got a good result.  February was also wet and we had no leaks.  But, what impressed me most was that they took down the satellite dishes then managed (in the dark) to replace them in such good alignment that Ashley was able to watch the UK premier league football on our TV.  (Picture below is before the roof upgrade)


A Slow Transformation

When we first moved here we wanted a place we could just move into with the minimum of work. What with all the stress of finishing work, leaving the UK, and everything else taking on a construction or renovation project simply was not on our agenda.

What was planned was to upgrade as we went along, and as we had the money to do so. The kitchen was always high on our plans to upgrade.  It started like this.

front house kitchena


The kitchen is now done. It was a two stage process, about 2 years ago part one was done. This was the extractor and the upper cupboards which were hand made to match the lower units. The carpenter did a fantastic job.  So this is the end of stage one.

Davlumbaz-lowered-with-fing Now part two is completed. A somewhat more expensive job given the new hob, oven, sink, taps, and black granite worktops. We spent a lot of time thinking about the worktops, granite or marble to start. Ultimately granite is more durable and far more resistant to lemon juice and other acids. Then came the decision of what granite. The stonemason said it would be impossible to exactly match the existing granite and brought us a catalogue with pictures of different granites we could have. In the end we chose the black and stuck to our decision even when we learned it was a bit more expensive.

Then, a week or so later, came the fitting.

The same carpenter we used 18 months ago came and fitted the unit to house the oven. The stone guys came in the evening, removed the old granite and started to fit the new granite, a task completed the following day. Then the sink was fitted and left unplumbed for the sealant to dry.  So this was the second night we could not cook so had to go out for dinner.  The next day the sink was plumbed and in the early evening the guys came to fit the oven and hob and went away again.  I should have spotted the problem, only one power supply – so eating out again. The next morning an electrician came and fitted a double socket, and later in the day the oven and hob were fitted.

We are sure that other bits will happen, but the big work is now done.  We have the old granite and plan to use it elsewhere. It all took a day longer than we thought, but the quality of work is fantastic and the finished result a vast improvement.



And now we have cake….

Renovation Work

Well we’ve talked about builders and little things in the middle of a big thing but we’ve not yet got round to talking about the latest improvement works on our ‘compound’…


Terrace before work

Sometime around late September early October we took a look at the back house terrace, or porch.  It’s where we spend the vast majority of our time in summer.  It’s shady and pleasant and conveniently close to the house.  But, back then, it was very small.   We decided to try to have it extended.  We went to buy some tiles that matched those already present and rode home on the tractor.  We started to ask around for an usta who would be prepared to take on the work.

We didn’t have much luck initially.  It was summer.  All the good builders were busy and had no time for our little extension. Whilst we were making these enquiries we had a little problem with the window in the back house bathroom which led to speculation about removal of the bath (never got used, always needed cleaning) and renovation of the bathroom (a lot of the fittings had suffered from neglect by long-term tenants)…  In the end we went through a friend who said everyone was busy till 21st November at which point our Usta came round and said he would be back in 15 days or so…  We began to wonder whether he would be back but, a week ago last Tuesday he showed up and took a good look at what would need to be done.  Hilary was in the back house at the time, pinning together some pieces of a quilt which ended up being done in double quick time to free the house up for the building work…

Next morning he took us off to the builder’s merchants to choose tiles.  This was fun.  They showed us lovely tiles.  We selected some.  They went off to find out whether they were in stock.  They weren’t.  So we selected some different tiles – light grey and dark grey.  The dark grey were in stock but not the light grey.  OK, we decided, dark grey alone would be fine but we’d want a border…  Eventually we found a combination of tiles and borders that we liked and were in stock.  And…. In the intervening period we had chosen a new shower fitting and a new tap for the wash basin.

Work begsteps-day-1-endan…  The tiles were ripped out of the bathroom and from theck house steps…  Then they were rebuilt.  Everything went very quickly.  By Sunday everything was finished, except for ‘montaj’ in the bathroom.  Most of that was done whilst we were out walking and the final touches were put on the work after we got home.


Little things in the middle of a big thing – Part 2

In the middle of the renovation and other work and the plumbing problem the front house telly decided to take on a mind of its own.  It turned on, pulled up various menus, went to standby, then turned on again.  At times did other weird things.  It refused to turn off.  We did not think this was a simple problem, it was obviously electronic, something like a motherboard and it clearly needed replacing.

When we first retired and moved to Turkey we were very cautious about money, kept records of everything, were trying to work out what we could afford or not.  To be honest we worried too much, were mean with ourselves, but back then we simply did not know how far a vastly reduced income would go.  Electronics are particularly expensive.  This is when we bought the TV in question.

There are a few discount electronics outlets, places like Bimeks and Teknosa.  They sell IPads, cool kit, and more.  They also sell seriously cheap stuff made in China, PRK and so on, and discontinued models from LG, Sony, and the rest (which represent very good value).  None of these outlets have branches in our town – we have to go to Izmir or to Aydin to take advantage of what they offer.  Also, whilst the goods do come with a guarantee, we doubt if they would come to our house to fix any problems.   The telly in question was a really cheap flat screen one from PRK.  It lasted more than two years (well beyond the guarantee period) and survived the power chaos a year ago which destroyed all manner of goods up and down the street.   So it really didn’t do so badly.

The situation was, however, that we had a TV that needed replacing.  An expense we did not really want, but now we are far clearer about how far the money goes.  With all the work going on we were not in a position to head to Izmir to hit the outlets, and locally we can get TV’s from Beko, Vestel, Arçelik all of which are perfectly good, and come with a guarantee that can be called upon locally.  So we took a short trip into town, browsed what was available and came back with a new TV.  We were told not to unpack it, that people would call to do montaj (set up in this case).   Setting it up yourself is easy, but invalidates your guarantee.  Our understanding was that they would come early in the afternoon.

By 16:30 we had not seen them.  So Hilary phoned the shop who gave her another number for Servis.  She phoned that number, explained the situation and was promised that Servis would be round to do montaj in half an hour. Very confidence boosting for her ability to communicate in Turkish!   About an hour later the TV was all set up and the guarantee papers signed and correct.  We know that if anything goes wrong within the guarantee period, we can call Servis who will come to our house.  If anything goes wrong after the guarantee period we can call Servis who will come to our house and charge us a reasonable fee for the privilege.

So tonight it was back to watching Torchwood.

Little things in the middle of a big thing – Part 1

It has been an odd few days.  We are having some major work done on the house, more on that later, but in the middle of that work other things happened.

The drain from the kitchen sink blocked.  We did the usual, dismantled the pipes beneath the sink, cleaned them out, tried a plunger.  No better.  Then we got the local stuff that is called sink opener (lavabo açici).  It’s caustic soda.  Tip it into the drain, add boiling water, stand back.  This too failed.

11954219911140919487h0us3s_Sign_danger_corrosive.svg.medIt was time to call a plumber.  The plumber came with a length of hose pipe, tried to unblock it.  Despite many metres of it going into the drain it failed.  He said he was going to get some stronger drain medicine, but that none was available in Selçuk.  Anyway, he came back a few hours later with a 2 litre plastic container full of a clear oily liquid.  He opened windows first, saying there will be smells, at which point Ashley started to get a good idea what was in that container.  Some went down the drain, gurgling noises started.  Then boiling water, then some more of the strong drain medicine, then more boiling water.  Then loads of it.  All manner of noises started coming from the drain along with powerful blasts of hydrogen sulphide.

It did the trick.  The basement garage needed serious ventilation to get rid of the fumes.  The kitchen sink now drains perfectly.  The odd smell that was noticed in the bathroom has gone.  Ashley suspects he left it a few hours because he wanted to be sure there was no caustic soda still in the drains.  So there you have it, if all else fails….  Concentrated sulphuric acid will probably succeed in unblocking drains, it certainly cleared ours.

Yeni Soba Var

We have aold-soba new wood burning stove.  It is a thing of beauty.  The old soba, it should be said, worked well enough.  It was always difficult to light, fussy about the size of wood, and made smoke in the house for at least a short period most evenings it was in use.

We thought that a wood burning stove would be a great improvement.  Hilary was very keen to have glass in the front of it so that she could watch the logs burning.  We have friends with wonderful stoves, bought from Canada or from Switzerland.  We also have a friend who bought his stove in Tekzen – a local chain and he was very pleased with it.  We rode out to Tekzen in Kuşadası and they didn’t have any nice stoves at all.  The only half way decent one they had was broken.  They thought they might get more in later in the season…

We did our Internet Research and found a shop in Izmir that sells Prity stoves.  These are made in Bulgaria and, whilst a great deal more expensive than Turkish models, are hugely cheaper than anything made in the UK, Scandinavia or Canada.  Last week we went up to Izmir and looked at the stoves, chose one and paid for it.  It arrived by Kargo on the day we requested.  We had to install it ourselves but, as it arrived early, we had plenty of time to walk into town to buy new pipes (the right length) and a new base.  It takes the same sized pipes as a local soba.  Installation was not a problem.

Ashley lit it on Thursday.  It works beautifully.  It heats the room more evenew-sobanly than the old one, you can see the pretty flames and it doesn’t make smoke inside the house…

Although, tonight there was smoke in the house, but that’s because Hilary forgot she had put croutons in the oven…

Riding the Tractor

back-terrace-sept-13We spend a lot of our time sitting on our back house terrace.  It’s sheltered there, shady for a lot of the day in summer and protected from the worst of the wind and cold in late autumn and early spring.  The only issue is that our back terrace is very small.  Just about enough room for the two of us (unless both of us have a project which needs the table) and just about enough room for our breakfast (though it is a bit of a puzzle finding space for all the different dishes).  So Ashley has had this brilliant idea to extend the terrace – this will mean less steps but steeper ones.  It will also mean more tiles are needed.

We went into Kuşadası earlier in the week to look at tiles.  We only went to the big places Koç Taş and Tekzen (though there are many very fine looking smaller tile specialists in the town).  We were not impressed.  Nor could we match our present tiles.

So we consulted our neighbour who we believe did the original build.  He didn’t have a spare tile (nor did we) but he knocked a part tile off the stairs and took it to his builder’s merchant.  Who, he said, was able to match it.  We found out where this builder’s merchant is (it took a few tries and misunderstandings) and headed there early this afternoon.

Sure enough – they were able to match our tile.  We bought 12 square meters.  And went to collect it from the depo in a tractor (which then bought us home with the tiles, much to the amusement of our neighbours).

We are thought very odd for this.  We do not have an usta to advise us.  We have not bought the cement and adhesive and sand and grout or other supplies that we will need.  We are probably not going to have this work done till late in the autumn.  But, we have the tiles.  And they are the same tiles as we have on the terrace now (so we only need them for the new bits, and won’t have to have the whole terrace redone) but they match the tiles in the back house which pleases Hilary.  All that, plus a ride on a tractor at about two thirds of the cost of the cheapest tiles we saw in the big DIY shops…

Furnishing the roof

new-furniture-for-roofWhen we bought this place we inherited wood furniture on the roof terrace.  It was in need of repainting, which we did in the hope winter would not kill the chairs.  We were overly optimistic, and the time and effort painting was wasted.  Winter killed the wooden armchairs.

We have been looking for replacements for a month or so, but it is early in the season and not a lot of garden and patio furniture was around.   It is May now, so on our way back from Izmir having had the bike fixed we stopped at a bamboo furniture place in Torbalı and poked around their stock.  They had just what we needed and we were quoted a very reasonable price.

We discovered this price included cushions and were shown various fabrics.  Most were bright, flowery, and really not to our taste.  Fortunately they had some striped fabric options one of which was much more to our taste.  We were asked a few times if we were sure, the sales people clearly thought we should have bright flowery fabric.  All the cushions we were shown also came with frills, we did consider asking not to have frills but they would probably have thrown up arms in absolute horror and not believed us.

We settled on the price and were told everything would be delivered on Sunday or Monday.  Sunday passed.  Monday lunchtime we phoned, were told they would be coming in the evening.  By 9pm we had given up hope and resigned ourselves to waiting another day or so.  Then we got called and told they were on their way.  Half an hour later we got another call, this time from the delivery driver who was lost in Selçuk.  We managed to work out where he was, met him, and by around 10pm we had our new furniture for the roof terrace.

Just in time really, the weather is getting lovely in the evenings.

All Spruced Up

One of the tasks we had put off for a while was having the outside of the houses painted.  There really was no point in this until the basement was turned into a garage / work space, and the roof terrace lined with marble.  So finally, with all the other work done it was time to take this on.  We could have done it ourselves, but it would have been a big task, involved ladders, working at height (which we covered recently), and getting covered in paint.

When we had the basement converted the people who made and fitted the iron work offered to do painting, so we gave them a call.  They came round, looked at the work needed, came back with a painter who did some rough measuring and came up with a price for the work plus paint and bits.  We could have bought the paint ourselves but it was a lot of paint and easier to let someone else carry it all.

Two days later it was all done, all we had to do was provide tea.  The painter did an excellent job and managed not to get paint everywhere.  Today we cleaned up, put things back in place.  It all looks really good, freshly decorated, just like the castle for today’s public holiday.


I wonder where the concrete is

purple-plantWe had a wonderful three days traveling about in warm sunshine, a couple of days on the bike and then a trip to Izmir for shopping and seeing a friend.  We were going to do a blog post on spring flowers but it seems spring comes earlier in Muğla.  It is definitely spring.  On Monday we saw a stork over Pamucak, our first of the year.

Inevitably the warmth ended with black skies, bright flashes, rumbling thunder, torrential rain and power cuts.

The sun has now returned but it is colder.  This morning some men appeared and fixed a metal support to the base of our stairs.  Then the marble man came round to be paid.  We decided to do some preparations for summer, painting in the back house, and a bit of spring cleaning.  Today Ashley fixed the bracket holding the soba pipe to the wall of the terrace and did a few other bits around the place.  Meanwhile across the road, some people arrived and started measuring the empty lot (the house was demolished last year).  Then some workmen came with a load of wood beams and boards.  This was followed by one enormous concrete pump and two mixers.

There was a bitneighbours-watch-the-concre of drama around where to park the concrete pump, but eventually on the third attempt it was resolved.  Most of the neighbourhood came out to watch the proceedings.  The pump  could only be remote-controlsecured at the top of the street, so the pipe had to go right over a neighbour’s house and yard.   A man with a remote control skilfully lined everything up correctly.  Then the concrete started to flow.  When it is dry it will leave a level surface for building on.  It might take some time, the lot was not flat, the concrete-spreadingconcrete is ankle deep at one end and at least a meter deep at the other.  The wooden boards held back what must be a massive weight of wet concrete, we had visions of the stuff flowing down the street.