Our lawyer puts in an application to the Kotor Planning Department for a house on the plot, for inclusion in the Urban Plan for Risan, which is about to be revised. This is a necessary step, as although the piece of concrete (which we’ve christened ‘Le Beton’) has been there for about 20 years, it is clearly not a house. Locals would probably knock it down and build anyway, but as foreigners, and particularly with our plans for an Eco-House, we need to be completely legal.
In July, we meet our architect again, having met him first briefly during an earlier visit. We visit the site with him and discuss our plans and ideas. He is very keen on being the first architect in Montenegro to build an Eco-House. We want to place the house at the rear of the plot, to have more room on the southern side, with the view to the Boka.
We are sittting in an Kotor estate agent looking at their latest offerings, when someone phones in from Risan with a plot to sell. Within 30 minutes we are on site. It is an ideal position, with a clear view out to the Bay, as well as the horseshoe curve of the mountains which surround 3 sides of the ancient town. The plot is also only about 500m from the sea, and a relatively easy (if one is good at hills) walk to the shops in the town centre. We get our lawyer to check the title is clean (a vital part of buying here) and put in an offer. Nail-biting follows and we pay the deposit, followed by the detailed contract and the final payment. We are land-owners at last.
Late February to Spring 2007
About once a month, Anke visits Montenegro mid-week, and does the rounds of property agents. James flies in Saturday mornings and spends the day looking at Anke’s selection. She finds the process particularly disheartening, as prices are going up almost by the hour. We start off in the Bar area – Sutomore, Dobra Voda, thinking that prices are lower than in the Boka. Most of the places we look at are weekend houses, usually cheek-by-jowl to their neighbours.
Concepts of space and privacy are totally different to our western European ones. We are shown around one newly built house by the proud mother of the family. Bedrooms have barely enough space to put a bed in, let alone move around, but yet have bunk-beds installed. One half of the building mirrors the other half, as it was built for her two sons, and so each has to have the same. The space around the building is barely wide enough to walk around.
Among other examples of what we are shown is a ruin of a stone house in an old village near Radovici. It looks great in the agent’s photographs, but on closer inspection, access is extremely limited. It is impossible to get cars, let alone builder’s lorries, nearer than 300m, and the amount of land with the building is too small.
For a change, we visit a piece of hillside up in the mountains above Risan, in Ledenice (near the new road from Morinje to Grahovo, which is still under construction). Access again; we have to go along a narrow stone path to the house, another tree-filled stone ruin, and would need to negotiate with other land-owners to buy slices of their property to get enough to create a track to take a car. Anyway, what to do with several 1000m2 of steep rock face behind it?
© James Collins 2008