Where paradise welcomes you
This Old Home
This is the story of how we renovated my great grand parentís house.
Letís start with the view from the back of the house. This view has always provided more than enough inspiration throughout such a difficult project.
Nisyros has many properties that have been abandoned and forgotten over the last several decades. What most people do not realize is that Greece is an amazingly rich country in the areas of natural beauty and antiquities. It is the perfect vacation spot and a worthy investment especially considering the low prices that these houses can be purchased for.
Nisyros is especially unique in that it is a bit removed from the mainstream tourist trail. The nearest airport is a one hour boat ride away or 8 miles. This enables Nisyros to maintain an old town culture without the high rise hotels, traffic jams and revelry common in the mega tourists towns of other Greek Islands. The fact that the Olympics are coming to Athens in 2004 will further enable travelers to discover Nisyros. Also, the formation of the European Economic Union and its common currency are having a big economic impact.
My great-grandparents Irene and Nicholas Theororidis owned this house back in the 1930s and prior. That is all of the early history we know currently about the house. Irene and Nicholas had seven children back in the early 1900s. The first was my grandmother Anna who was born in 1908. Of these seven children two of them immigrated to the United States. Others moved to other locations in Greece. One of the two that went to begin anew in the United States was my Grandmother Anna Theodoridis. Anna Married Emanuel Campanis, my grandfather. In the Greek tradition the eldest female child inherits the family property. My grandmother Anna inherited this house in 1935. My father inherited it upon her death in 1974.
Many Niserians have left property as they immigrated to other countries such as the USA or Australia. I write this story as an inspirational guide to those who feel a tremendous lack of direction regarding what to do with family properties on the Island that are falling into disrepair.
The first step is to open an account at a local bank. I did this with about 500E. The Bank name is Cooperative Bank Of Dodecanese. This should be done in person. The bankers name is Calliope. She speaks English and maintains services in a very professional and accurate fashion. Below is a photo of Calliope.
Whenever business is involved it is important to be able to pay people quickly. Working for someone in another country, as I was, at first seemed to be a credit risk to the tradesmen. The tradesman need to be assured that they can get paid in a reasonable amount of time. The bank allows me to fax payment notices to them. With these notices the bank will call the tradesman at the phone number I provide and ask them to come to the Bank to receive payments. In this way I could pay tradesmen within 24 hours. This service of the bank has proven to be extremely valuable. In the USA it takes more like 72 hours to mail a check. So, having blazing speed in this area greatly boosted motivation, credit ratings and speed of construction. Many property owners from the USA make the mistake of paying workers when they make their annual trip to the Island. This causes cash flow problems with tradesmen and is a significant disinsentive.
Language translation was a big part of this project. There are several individuals on he Island who are available for hire on such projects.
They can be paid by the hour and reached by telephone, email and fax. It is helpful to have a linguist who can also act as a general contractor if you do not speak Greek. It is also helpful to set a weekly time when the calls will be placed. This way a pattern is established and weekly goals can be set.
I was also able to use a telephone trick called a three way call. This is where I would call my bi-lingual father in Boston, Massachusetts, USA from my location in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. While on this call my telephone service allows me to place a third person on the call. This is really quite simple and inexpensive. We could then speak to tradesmen directly and with translation. We did use a general contractor who did a fantastic job and did most of my dealings with the tradesmen.
Skilled Labor on the Island is available but can be a little hard to find. I spotlight the following individuals for contribution to this renovation. Generally these tradesmen speak Greek. I would recommend all of them on future projects. Do remember that there are only about 750 people on the Island and that limits the number of tradesmen specializing in individual areas. If one has an expectation that they can choose from a dozen builders they will be disappointed. There are at best one to four tradesmen in each specific area.
1) Masonry and Stucco
This step is likely the biggest and most expensive. My uncle had contracted this in about 1993 and we have no more details.
3) Property Survey
5) Sterna Cleaning and Repair
Contact me if you need help:
Photos Before Renovations
Interior Shots The walls had already been redone at this point.
Below are some photos taken after the renovations.
Thanks to everybody (and there are
many) who made this dream come true!