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Hi All!

Post by mookie30 on Sun Feb 10, 2013 6:36 pm

Hi all,

We're currently living in the UK and working damn hard to pay for a house we dislike living in, in an area we dislike living in, enduring weather we dislike living through!

We're weighing up a couple of options, either Southern France or Southern Spain, ideally we want to be as carbon neutral as possible and live on little money, my wife has a Diet & Nutrition qualification and we were thinking of doing a healthy eating and living residential course a few weeks of the year.

I just wondered if anyone has any advice for us about the suitability of a cave for this type of endeavor, or general pointers on areas, what to watch out for, the general feel of Spain at the moment with all the unemployment etc?

Thanks for reading this, hopefully I can begin to learn about the exciting world of cave living!

Cheers, Mike

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Re: Hi All!

Post by bigcol on Mon Feb 11, 2013 12:17 pm

Hi Mike

welcome to the forum, someone will be along soon to answer you questions
Lots of info from a great bunch of people.
I dont think you can get more carbon neutral when living in a cave.
I lived in a cueva casa, part cave part house.

Loved it great way of life, the area arround where the forum is based is a lovely place to be. lots of caves that are lived in by local spanish and quite a few english now.
palaces in side, no short of luxerys, all mod cons. Life here can be fulfilling and it down to you what you get out of life here.
great comunity great locals great scenery and yes you could be self eficiant.

as far as you having a choice between south france or spain, as far as were concerned its Spain!!
come over and stay in cueva pedro, Sally or kate on the forum here great website and if you stay in the b&b in only one week you will have made your mind up!!! get out of the rat race and enjoy life
Anyway mt8y welcome to the forum and what ever you do,
Dont go to France!!!!! lol

Col

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Re: Hi All!

Post by Dave on Mon Feb 11, 2013 12:55 pm

Welcome to the forum. I'd suggest to take a holiday in one of the rental caves over here and get a feel of cave life, there are plenty available. Also theres some good info about eco caves here Click

But yes, get out of the UK and avoid France.

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Re: Hi All!

Post by Dave on Mon Feb 11, 2013 1:02 pm

You may also be interested in Mariposa's threads on here about her Solar and wind turbine installations. sunny

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Re: Hi All!

Post by Gobiker56 on Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:57 pm

Well I have been in my cave nigh on 9 years and absolutely love it. They have their faults, but the benefits far outwiegh any niggling little faults. Today, for instance, it is howling a gale with sleet and snow, I am toasty warm with the minimum of heating.
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Re: Hi All!

Post by santamaria on Mon Feb 11, 2013 10:30 pm

Hi, We have lived in a rural cave community, for a few years now; as quality of life goes, you can't beat it. The weather, community spirit, great food, lots of smiles and laughter; as for living in a cave , it's great and it met all our expectations.

It isn't sunny and hot all year round but after day after day of hot sunshine, from mid May through to September ,you are ready for the Autumn, and Winter. When in Winter, you think you could do with those hot sunny days again, along comes the Spring...........

Good luck, with what ever you decide. Very Happy
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Re: Hi All!

Post by Lurchio on Tue Feb 12, 2013 8:40 am

I didn't buy a Cave (headroom problems!) but I did buy a house in the area. For real down to earth values (read 'traditional' if its better), a genuine Community spirit that is NOT based on the value of a gift, just the meaning behind it you cannot beat the area, the Spanish population or the ex pats . To me it is like stepping back (in a good way) at least 20 years and it ALL the better for that I promise you. If you want rid of the 'rat race' its a no - brainer!
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Re: Hi All!

Post by gtclubman on Tue Feb 12, 2013 11:11 am

Welcome to the forum and good luck with your endeavor. Every cave home is different, ours has ceilings higher than most uk homes, eight feet too twelve feet high, in different rooms.
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Re: Hi All!

Post by Mariposa on Sun Feb 17, 2013 2:55 pm

Hi Mike - welcome!

I have lived in Spain for many years now. Started in the North (Galicia) and then bought my first property, again in the North (Asturias) a traditional old house, which I fully renovated, then sold and moved down here just over 3 years ago into a cave.

As Go-Biker says, caves do have their faults, but it is so worth it if you want to have a fairly carbon neutral lifestyle.

It is February now, a little milder than last month and I don't need any heating on until around 5pm ish. My particular cave is all cave, apart from one small built on shower room.

Water/cooking is bottled gas, a lot better than mains as you recycle the bottle and there are no pipes to maintain or roads being constantly dug up! Woodburners do a great job in caves giving dry heat and wood can be obtained very cheaply, with a bit of knowledge!

Quarterly bills are very cheap too, live near a town and expect to pay a bit more for facilities.

I personally have never regretted my move to Spain, but was a bit shocked at first by the weather down here, not what I expected at all! Cooler too than other parts of Spain, due to the altitude I suspect.

There are people of different nationalities living here, but this is mainly a Spanish region.

I like your business idea. It will all be down to good advertising and your enthusiam! Bringing more people to this area to show them how life is and how good life can be, can't be a bad thing.

Come and stay here for a while first, to see if you like the area and the way of life.

Good luck, Caroline
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Re: Hi All!

Post by pete_l on Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:18 am

mookie30 wrote:We're weighing up a couple of options, either Southern France or Southern Spain, ideally we want to be as carbon neutral as possible and live on little money, my wife has a Diet & Nutrition qualification and we were thinking of doing a healthy eating and living residential course a few weeks of the year.
Well living on little money is very, very common in Spain Crying or Very sad though you don't say if this would be a lifestyle choice or a forced situation. Though the thought that Spain is a low cost of living country is coming under increasing strain. It was true years ago when the Euro was cheap (for brits, at least) - but not so much these days.

So far as healthy eating and living ... have you seen the amount of oil, grease and fat used in spanish "cuisine"? Though one thing I would say in all seriousness is that if you will be depending on people taking these courses, for money to survive on, then please bear in mind that this area of Spain is well over a hundred km's from any airport that serves the UK. Also, there would be a significant carbon footprint for people flying 1,000 miles each way to take your courses - oh the irony!

You will also find that if you want to run a residential business legally, there's a great deal of bureaucracy, paperwork and permits necessary. I'd strongly suggest you get a copy of the book You and the Law in Spain - it's available from Amazon.

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Re: Hi All!

Post by Lurchio on Mon Feb 18, 2013 12:49 pm

All good points. I looked into self employment in Spain for the future, you should be advised that 'Autonomo' payments will be due per month (About 260 euros per person declared as 'Autonomo'), good news is that this will include you in Spains NHS but bad news is that its a 'fixed' cost due month on month, even if you do not earn month on month! Obviously depends if you are looking to be a Tax resident, so say no more............................ big subject, covered in the book recommended to you. My best friend in the 'early days' was the local (well recommeded) Gestor, who definitely saved me more cash than I gave him in fees.
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Re: Hi All!

Post by Ponderosa on Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:33 pm

Hi Mariposa and Go-Biker you says caves do have their faults please let me know what they are privately or on the Forum. Regards Peter
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Re: Hi All!

Post by Gobiker56 on Thu Feb 21, 2013 2:40 am

Most of us cave dwellers have roughly the same problems I think. The problems can vary cave to cave. Mine are very minor problems. Number 1 is Paint, I have to paint fairly regularly in some rooms as it just falls off after a while, how long depends on the type of rock in the room. Different rooms can have different rock types. So some rooms have to be swept/hoovered fairly regularly to clean up the fallen paint. Number 2 is crumbling walls or ceilings, again depending on the rock type, this can be severe or minor. Some rock surfaces have to be 'glued' i.e a solution of PVA glue sprayed or painted on to set the crumbly rock, this type of rock in my cave is in small layers across some walls and on 1 ceiling. The 'gluing' sometimes needs to be repeated, most of my crumbly bits I have to do every 2 or 3 years and there isn't a lot. Finally, Mineral seepage. This is where salts or other minerals seep through the surface of the rock, pushing the paint off. I only have 1 wall like that and the mineral pushes through in clumps like bunches of very fine optic fibres, It is called 'Angel Hair' I believe. So a quick brush/hoover off and touch up with paint. That's an on-going but minor problem. The main thing to say is you are dealing with 'living rock' so small amounts of water will eventually seep through in very small quantities in the rainy times, coming through the porous layers as a type of damp. Therefore you need plenty of ventilation. Don't forget you also breathe out water which again is absorbed into the porous rock, plus the water from steam whilst cooking and to some extent showering/washing/bathing. My cave goes a long way back ino the rock face so I have extractor fans that take the air from the back rooms and bathrooms and blow it out the front of the cave. These operate when the bathroom lights are switched on. That seems to be enough to keep the place fairly well aired. Luckily the long hot days soon dry out any damp accrued in the winter. Most caves have to be 'lived in' leaving them shut up for long periods would exacerbate any problems I have mentioned. I think it is safe to say the advantages far outwiegh these minor problems. Just be aware of them when looking at a cave to buy. Check out the rock types in each room, make sure there is adequate ventilation throughout the cave. Most cave owners are happy to show you their cave, warts and all, so you can get an idea of the advantages and disadvantages.
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Re: Hi All!

Post by gtclubman on Thu Feb 21, 2013 10:29 am

I agree with gobiker56 good ventilation throughout the cave is essential, and to aid this the minimum number of doors should be used. In our cave apart from the outside doors we only have a door on the bathroom. Our bedrooms have curtains across the door openings, spanish style, which aids ventilation.
Good luck with your search.
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Re: Hi All!

Post by Dave on Thu Feb 21, 2013 11:10 am

Our doors were fitted by the previous French owner, so theres plenty of air circulation even when they are closed. Wink

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Re: Hi All!

Post by Imagemaker on Thu Feb 21, 2013 2:10 pm

My doors have a 20ish cm square panel at the bottom of every door to aid ventilation when closed at night - I leave all the doors open during the day. There are also extractor fans from the bathrooms to the outside.

The walls in my cave are pretty much the same as most peeps on here - regular touch-ups with PVA/yeso and other (gloopy) products along with a generous amount of paint keeps it in check. The good thing about cave walls, is that you don't need to be a skilled plasterer to make a good job; actually, the rougher the job, the more 'rustica' it looks! cheers
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Re: Hi All!

Post by pete_l on Thu Feb 21, 2013 5:02 pm

On the subject of doors - I have noticed that in my cave house (apart from the doors being far too low, a feature originating from the people of this part of Spain being very short. I've seen new beds for sale that are only 180cm from end to end ! ) that there is a complete lack of lintels. This puts the whole load of the cave ceiling on the doorframe and makes them sag inwards, hence after a while the doors don't close properly and I end up shaving bits off the frame. Obviously that just weakens them further ...

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Re: Hi All!

Post by Imagemaker on Thu Feb 21, 2013 5:26 pm

pete_l wrote:On the subject of doors - I have noticed that in my cave house (apart from the doors being far too low, a feature originating from the people of this part of Spain being very short. I've seen new beds for sale that are only 180cm from end to end ! ) that there is a complete lack of lintels. This puts the whole load of the cave ceiling on the doorframe and makes them sag inwards, hence after a while the doors don't close properly and I end up shaving bits off the frame. Obviously that just weakens them further ...

Oh dear - my cave has no such problem thank goodness! My ceilings are surprisingly high as the floors were dug out to accommodate northern European giants ;o) I certainly don't have sagging bits in MY cave lol!
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Re: Hi All!

Post by Gobiker56 on Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:03 pm

Blimey Pete, I would be a bit worried if my door frames bowed as if they were helping support the Ceiling!! A far as I am aware, and I hope I am wrong, cave ceilings should be completely self supporting or the appropriate measures taken to support them (RSJ's etc.). My doors are OK in the Cave, but the front door Sticks in the winter due to the swelling of the wood with moisture, Are you sure it's not that that is causing your sticky doors?.
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Re: Hi All!

Post by gtclubman on Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:55 pm

Gobiker is right cave house ceilings should be self supporting, and are usually curved in shape, this is sussuming the room is not an outbuild extension. Our ceiling heights vary between 8 and 13 feet high, although we know some caves homes that have rooms that are 6 1/2 feet high.
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Re: Hi All!

Post by pete_l on Fri Feb 22, 2013 8:34 am

Gobiker56 wrote:Blimey Pete, I would be a bit worried if my door frames bowed as if they were helping support the Ceiling!! A far as I am aware, and I hope I am wrong, cave ceilings should be completely self supporting or the appropriate measures taken to support them (RSJ's etc.). My doors are OK in the Cave, but the front door Sticks in the winter due to the swelling of the wood with moisture, Are you sure it's not that that is causing your sticky doors?.
Yes, my first thought was that the wood in the door was swelling, as wood swells/shtinks across the grain.
However, if that was the case, then once you've shaved off the (small) amount necessary to provide clearance, the problem would be solved forever. If you do fix the problem and later find that it's happening again, check your door frames for plumb. One of mine has developed a distinct bulge that wasn't there a year ago. It's only a mm or so, but summat's moved and it's enough to jam a previously free-closing door.

Cave room ceilings are only arched along one axis - usually the length of the room. So the "long" walls and the ceiling that joins those walls bears the weight of the arch. If there are no lintels, that weight is transferred into the door frames. I may be looking in the wrong place, but I can't see any evidence of a lintel above some of my internal doors. I can see distinct supporting structures above the windows, just not above the doors. It might be a "spanish practice" (groan) to assume assume that the weight is borne by the considerable, 5 feet thick, "tunnel" that forms the doorways, which would lessen the problem but I'm still skeptical about the building standards. scratch

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Re: Hi All!

Post by Gobiker56 on Fri Feb 22, 2013 6:40 pm

My doors were put into 'doorways' that were already there, have been for about 300 years I gather, maybe longer. So I knew that they would not be load bearing. Plus my rooms are relatively small with very thick walls. I suppose it also depends what kind of rock your cave is dug out of and how much is above your cave. You could always ask a real expert on caves to have a look. Just for peace of mind. I am sure there are a few that people would recommend. I doubt they would charge much to have a look. I have found them most honest in my considerable dealings with them.
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Re: Hi All!

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