6 bedroom house for sale
Spain - Andalusia, Almería, Bédar
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THIS PRICE IS EQUIVALENT TO EURO 1350 PER NET M2 (BEFORE EXTRAS) AND IS VERY COMPETITIVE IN ALMERIA FOR A HOUSE OF THIS QUALITY OF BUILD, FINISH & MATURITY OF FOLIAGE IN SETTING.
This property is a spacious, high ceiling, 4 Reception, 6 Bed, 4 Bath + 10 by 5M pool + full size Tennis Court rural "Country House", situated 15 Km from the Mojacar Coast in Almeria Spain at 400 M above sea level. It is located about 0.5 Km from the traditional Spanish village of Bedar.
The concept behind the house, which was constructed in phases twenty years ago, has been to combine traditional Andalusian regional appearance, with Arabesque Mediterranean internal distribution and well insulated⁄ventilated modern construction in an abundantly shaded setting.
This achieves best use of the multi level site orientation, obtains sea, village & hill views from the upper entry level used for the reception rooms and provides maximum shade& sun protection for the lower level bedrooms grouped about a Patio Andaluz or courtyard complete with a water fountain feature and flower bed. Both levels benefit from natural cross ventilation to take account of the sea breezes prevalent during the hot summer. The garden has areas of sun, shade and semi shade, suitable for all uses in all seasons.
Much use has been made in the finishes of materials in wood, stone & Iron, traditional, to all styles of Mediterranean architecture. These include, wall facing of local ironstone, use of reclaimed antique doors & window grills (reinforced where appropriate) with flooring of both antique &modern hand cut tiles combined with roofs supported by timber taken from old railway sleepers or telephone poles.
The overall effect is of a constructed area that sits comfortably on the site; this is reinforced by the retention of four Olive and Algarroba trees, at least 50 years old, to improve shade at the top entry level and a lower entrance, tree, flowering shrub & flower garden, planted twenty years ago, which adds to overall maturity and blends tastefully into a, largely untouched, Spanish rural background.
MORE DETAILED INFORMATION ON THE PROPERTY.
1. Concepts behind the Cortijo Calerica Country House Property.
This section will seek to show how the project relates to local tradition and the origins of Mediterranean architecture developed first in the Levant and then imported by the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties (coming from what later became the Mesopotamian provinces of the Ottoman Empire), via the Maghreb, to Spain during the 500 years the "Moors" ruled, what is now Andalucía. The prime driver to achieve comfort for living in all Mediterranean zones is to construct and align to get the best out of the varied climate conditions. The climate and vegetation in the hills behind the Almeria coast, is very similar to that prevailing above the Umayyad Capital of Damascus, nearby modern Lebanon and much of the areas behind the coast of the Maghreb, in what is now Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. The Arab invaders of Spain dominated most of this coast (and its agricultural hinterland) as they progressed from the Levant to Andalusia and brought, for the time, advanced cultural ideas, into the then undeveloped regions of contemporary southern Spain, they occupied.
Language, medicine, cuisine, architecture and 'artisanal skills', are amongst their lasting contributions to Spain. The last two have inspired the design of the Calerica house. The simple and critical concept, derived from this tradition, is to align a house into a site, that naturally protects itself from the elements and increase its user comfort and convenience (over the whole expected range of climatic conditions ) by judicious choice of materials, ventilation, external shade, cooling & heating techniques.
The house is owned by an Englishman, who has lived, worked and travelled in most of the areas in the Orient and Africa mentioned above, and has been implemented in collaboration with a Landscape Architect & garden designer, who has lived in Bedar and worked in the area for over 30 years.
The alignment of the house is, with views to the south to the sea, to the east to the village and the 'Campo' landscape. The best vistas are to be seen, on the upper level from the closed terrace, joined to the drawing room and the semi open terrace leading off the dining room. The house is well protected from strong and sometimes seasonably cold winds, by the steep hill behind and this is reinforced at this level by the very Moorish technique of not having any windows facing north, or any living space directly inside north walls that catch the wind.
All the upper floor living space is further insulated by an entrance hall⁄ woodshed for the drawing room, stairs for the study and a larder for the kitchen. At the lower level, the two bedrooms at the north end of the built up area are behind a natural terrace, protected from damp by an ironstone wall [bedroom 2] and insulated by either a corridor or an internal storage facility [bedroom3]. This insulative effect on the building as a whole is enhanced by all the outer walls being cavity with fiber glass insulation between the outer and inner wall. The closed roof spaces also have insulation.
To illustrate both the internal distribution of the property and its alignment on the site, a copy of the Floor and Cadastral plans are included at the end of this description; the photos in Exhibit B also compliment these explanations; in order to place the property in its perspective it also includes, further photographs showing the landscape and vegetation around the village of Bedar.
2. Details of layout, materials, construction & room distributions
These are all crucial elements in optimising the comfort of people living in the house, given that effective control of the natural factors of Sun, Wind and Shade drive much of the satisfaction people derive from actually living in a particular house, on a year round basis. Cortijo Calerica was designed, by the owner for his use on this intention rather than as a summer and other seasonal holiday home; however, it can of course be used to good effect as such, given its well developed natural ventilation and cooling features.
An overall impression of the house is given in Photo [B.1], taken from a road behind, which is slightly higher than the upper entrance road to the house itself. Photo [B.2] features the Tennis court. Both show how the retained, established trees, have been supplemented by the owner planted trees around the Tennis court, the Palm, Yuccas and vine in the shaded back garden plus the conifers along the access road behind the pool⁄barbecue block Photo [B.3].The latter also highlights the sheltering effect of the hill behind. The key vegetation effect of this accumulation of proximate foliage is to reduce inside summer temperatures generated by surrounding surface radiation and also, to provide a low combustibility evergreen fire break, to protect a potentially vulnerable aspect, given the summer prevailing wind, from the south of the Tennis court.
The core construction materials used is cement block, finished with a variety of old⁄new wood and a similar mix of tiles. Special attention has been given to preventing⁄minimising direct incidence of sunlight on windows and also ensuring that almost all rooms on both levels enjoy natural cross ventilation. Placing the bedrooms on the ground floor improves insulation against both heat and cold. Another feature that decreases summer temperature is that most ceiling heights exceed 2.8m (2.5m is standard).
The distribution concept of the reception floor is that Guests tend to arrive from the upper entrance and move into the drawing room, Photo [B.4] or closed terrace⁄bar, Photo [B.5] to meet residents coming up the main stairs. The dining room, Photo [B.6] is connected to the open terrace, photo [B.7] with the study joining the two halves of the house. These three main reception rooms are each 30 m2 in floor area, and two of them-The dining room and closed terrace-have open pitched, wooden beamed, traditional country house roofs, over 5m in maximum height. The 24 Sq m Kitchen also has an open pitch & beamed roof with a round table that seats 4 in one corner, Photo [B 8].
On the bedroom level the six bedrooms are grouped into three sets of two, and in the present owners style of occupation, the four bedrooms⁄three bathrooms facing the west side of the courtyard have been allocated to family use [No's 3 (photo of master bedroom: B.9) &4, and 5,&,6 in floor plan A,2], with the two bedrooms⁄one bath under the dining room, [No's 1&2 in the same floor plan] under the dining room mainly used by guests who also have the use of a separate staircase and dedicated entrance to the courtyard. All the bedrooms are genuine doubles, ranging from 14 to 25 Sq M each. Four of the bedrooms also have spacious fitted cupboards.
This accommodation distribution arrangement has worked well for the present owner, but many others are, possible-particularly if two more bathrooms were to be added-see section 7 below.
3. Details of the heating⁄cooling ⁄ bathing & other infrastructure facilities plus parking space.
The 'family areas' of the house being the four west side bedrooms (No's 3 to 6), the main drawing room and the entrance hall are all centrally heated, by a bulk Butane system that also provides hot water to the three bathrooms attached to these bedrooms. The other two bedrooms (No's 1&2) use electric space heaters and the fourth bathroom heats its water from, a combination of an electric immersion heater, and an initial hot water intake from the butane gas heater that supplies the kitchen sinks in the floor above.
This core heating system is supplemented by three log fires, one in the drawing room, one that takes large logs in the dining room and, in the study an antique closed log burning iron stove (that can be safely left to stay alight all night). If the house is in full use during a cold winter period, these facilities are supplemented as required, by portable butane heaters in, the outer entrance hall, the closed terrace, the kitchen and, as background, one next to the main dining room window.
This multiplicity of heating systems, plus the attention paid to thermal insulation, has proved very practicable and economical in a climate where sub zero temperatures are not normal, with 3⁄4 C, as a typical low. Firewood is relatively cheap & readily available; the owner has found that trimming the trees on the property, has in fact satisfied most of the recent firewood needs.
So far as artificial, energy intensive, cooling is concerned, the owner has not found it generally necessary-but various rooms have been equipped with fans for periods of high humidity-generally in the autumn after temperatures drop. One bedroom [No 5] has a window box air conditioner fitted.
The pool block [see Photo B.3 above] also has two M⁄F changing units comprising a shower, changing area & separate lavatory⁄ basin in each unit. The showers are heated by the Butane heater that also provides hot water to the sink in the barbecue area.
The full size Tennis court (537 sq m in ground area) has been excavated and supported by combining two terraces; this has enabled retaining walls to be built on the north and east sides with, now mature, evergreen tree⁄shrub cover on the south and west sides. Both protect against wind and reduce glare when playing in the late afternoon and evening-which is often the best time when it is hot-see Photo B.2.
Availability of ample off road parking is a critical facility for a substantial Country House in Spain, where the owners can be expected to entertain outside guests, usually arriving by car; this property has four spaces in the upper entrance (one of which is inside a lock up garage, [Photo B.10]) and six spaces at the lower level (two of which are behind lockable metal entrance gates) & another four in a separate cemented area overlooking the tennis court, [Photo B.11].
4. Options for eating & entertaining in various locations.
The Cortijo has been designed to be very flexible both, as to type of gathering, sit down meal, buffet, barbecue or Tapas plus cocktails being the function range normally organised by the present owners. Numbers have varied from dine alone, all the way up to 12⁄14 sit down at table, and up to 20⁄25 buffet⁄barbecue depending on the locations chosen. On one memorable occasion, a New Year's party of over 50, was held over the entire upper floor and its terraces, without any noticeable overcrowding.
The most suitable location for each gathering varies, firstly by deciding to consume indoors or out of doors inside and then by anticipating the climate or forecast expected at the pertinent time of year. For inside sit down eating, the choice is between, up to 12⁄14 in the dining room, 6⁄8 in the semi open terrace and the same in the bar⁄breakfast table area of the closed terrace. For buffet meals, about 20 can be accommodated, by combining the dining room and open terrace or up to 25 for 'Drinks & Tapas' if all of, the drawing room, the closed terrace & study are used to give,' sit down', space .
For groups wishing to eat⁄drink outside, the choice will also be much influenced, by the weather and degree of shade desired. The options range, from full shade in the covered barbecue area (Photo B.3) for 6⁄8, to no shade and 12⁄15 by placing tables on the raised area next to the pool entrance-see the corner of the same Photo. There is also a tiled table in the upper entrance courtyard (Photo B.12) seating 6 (extendable to 10) that is very useful for winter daytime meals as it catches the afternoon sun, is sheltered from the wind and adjacent to the back door of the Kitchen. It is lit for use at night when it is too hot to eat outside without shade in the day.
The owner has also made good use, over the years, of two semi- shade locations, particularly for smaller family gatherings, in the autumn or spring; the first uses the cushioned corner of the lower courtyard, plus as many chairs and tables as is required [Photo B.13], and the second is eating beneath the vine in the back garden on the west side of the house where a large round seasoned wood table seats 6⁄8 [Photo B.14]. This is especially delightful in the autumn when the natural vine cover is at its most dense and, the less vertical afternoon sun has gone behind the house, by lunchtime.
5. Travel options to reach National and International destinations.
Bedar is now well served by three international airports, Almeria , less than an hour's drive, Murcia (St Javier) about an hour and a half and Alicante, just over two hours. These fly to many EU destinations direct, but for long haul and less popular EU routes, a change in Madrid or Barcelona is required. All of these airports have national flights to both, and there are also good express bus services to Madrid.
The Cortijo is less than 15 minutes drive to the A7 Mediterranean Corridor Autovia (Motorway), which now, almost, links the French frontier in Catalonia with Malaga. There are two fast trains, one by day and one by night, from Madrid to Almeria and a slow regional service to Granada; however the latter is better served by buses.
Local politicians are working very hard to pressure the central government to complete the half built AVE, fast train track to Madrid via Valencia (which is now operating to Alicante). It was postponed for budgetary reasons in 2010, and should by now have been in operation. However, if the funds are reinstated soon, by political will at all decision making levels, a 2020 inauguration date could still be achieved. The effect on the upper tier of the local property market could be very substantial as Weekending from Madrid would become much less stressful--especially in the crowded summer holiday period.
6. Possible options for improving⁄developing the Calerica project.
It is axiomatic, that no existing house that has served an incumbent well is likely to be perfectly suited, for a new one, without modifications and improvements to adapt to the style of life of a new owner. This section discusses a few of the possibilities considered by the existing owner. In evaluating, what could be done in the future, it should be borne in mind that severe constraints are imposed by current regulations for new construction in the area. The house is not in the protected zone where no new construction is permitted-but in an area where the Town Hall need Provincial planning approval to authorise any structural changes or extensions-but can approve minor works to walls, etc.
However, and purely as examples, three improvements might be considered in, or on, the house itself.
Above the study and main staircase is a flat roof, reached by a narrow staircase. There is adequate level space to install a 'Mini Beach' area with fixed⁄movable blinds, swing chairs, sun loungers, etc. The present owners considered-but did not implement this idea, as the space is hot in summer and windy in much of the winter. However adequate canvas shading and Perspex wind shielding would overcome this. The effect would be excellent 360 Degree sea and mountain views, a feeling of fresh air, and total sun bathing privacy.
Two more bath⁄shower rooms could be added. One to give both the guest wing rooms their own bath facilities by using the walk in cupboard as an entrance and dividing the large existing bathroom area. The second would be to divide the bath⁄Jacuzzi areas in the SW suite and end up with the Jacuzzi in one facility and a shower only bathroom in the other. This is a question of expected usage pattern and would not be expensive to implement.
All the bedrooms could be equipped with air conditioning-but real need, cost and agreement with the electrical utility to increase the supply capacity all require to be carefully considered.
The last improvement which the author contemplated some years ago-but did not proceed with it, because he then had mobility problems, would be to convert the embryo fruit garden between the west retaining wall and the Ramblas (dry river bed) into a more extensive and structured citrus area. The soil and climate would be suitable, assuming an adequate watering network was constructed, and the new trees planted with adequate fertilised soil.
7. Overview of Property.
The property on offer is an unusual and versatile house that has been most diligently molded into its physical &cultural surroundings. The price⁄quality ratio is very good and reflects, amongst other things, the fact that the area does not contain many such houses.
However, after any dramatic improvement in infrastructure and transport links, it is customary for the housing stock in a newly fashionable zone, to adapt itself to the needs of a more sophisticated type of clientele. The Mojacar⁄Vera⁄Bedar area is now in the process of this type of transformation.
Current building regulations applicable to this area have made it difficult, to construct such houses, as new builds, in the countryside outside urbanized zones; this is therefore a rare opportunity to acquire one of the few mature houses, now available in this category.
The Property is being sold because the owner and his family are moving to Peru. Building and owning the property has given them great pleasure, over a generation. The Vendor has little doubt it will do so again for an astute purchaser, with an eye to capital appreciation, who is attracted by its particular style and the ethos behind its execution.
BEDAR; May 2016
- Almería (International), 51.9 miles
*Distances are straight line measurements. This feature is currently in beta.