It’s been a long time coming but at last our boundary wall has started to go up.
We are very lucky in our village. The crime rate seems to be pretty low and we have good neighbours (or in one case completely absent neighbours!). Boundary walls and fences are a traditional feature in rural Bulgaria and the original property had a combination of collapsing very old mud brick walls, some rusting and falling down chainlink fencing and the beginning of a new breeze block wall that had been abandoned after only about 10 meters – presumably when funds ran out. Also the original (derelict) gate/entrance to the property was on the common land and there was no drive or track from the road/street to our gate – and in the winter you couldn’t get to the gate either for the snow or the mud!
Although security is something to think about, the primary reasons for having walls on our public boundaries are mainly to do with privacy and to contain critters. The North boundary is along our little street and the West boundary faces some common land about 25+ meters wide between our place and the main road through the village. The other two boundaries with our neighbours are going to be new chainlink fences with the posts and bottom of the fence concreted into continuous foundations. Our main gate will be in the North wall and we will have a small side gate onto the common land so we can graze critters there sometimes. Finally, realistically, we can’t move our dogs there until there is a secure boundary.
We had to hire in a JCB type digger (locally called a “bagga””and, of course, operated by the “baggaman”). Basically a tractor with a front bucket loader and a backhoe at the rear. There was particularly a lot to clear along the verge on the North side and down the West side on the common land – with some very big tree stumps to be pulled out. As we cleared we of course uncovered problems that need to be sorted, like at one spot we will have to build a concrete retaining wall as the land drops 1 meter from road level into our property :-(.
We did think about getting reclaimed bricks for the wall but eventually decided to buy new and our first load rocked up in a huge lorry and was dumped on the common land near our property. The wall will be a very traditional design with a tiled top and, eventually, the wall will be rendered to match the house.
Another consideration was whether to dig out the foundations and put formwork in all around and then get ready mix delivered and just poured in – makes sense right? Well the cost of the wood for the formwork for 140 meters of foundation was going to be huge! So we decided to do the foundations in sections and (a) reuse the formwork and (b) mix the concrete in our little mixer. Although it took a little bit longer this is was a lot cheaper in teh long run.
And finally, in the past week, actual building has started. We have two teams, each one with a “brick meister” and a labourer. It’s not a competition but we do need to get it up. Because it is very hot at the moment the lads are working from 6am to 2pm. So we wish them the best of luck – they are trying to get the walls built by the time we arrive in October – we will see!