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Spanish Secrets: A Shocking Revelation

Be prepared for major financial shocks when you ask for quotes on modernising an old Spanish farmhouse.

Craig Briggs continues his account of property development in Galicia.

Having finally resolved the problem of inadequate access to our ruined farmhouse, we turned our attention to the next major hurdle; the electricity supply.

The quotation provided by the electrical contractor Raul was based on installing a temporary Building Supply. During conversation with Jose, the first of our three competing builders, he had questioned the reasoning behind such a supply.

In its favour, a Building Supply is provided at a preferential tariff. Jose argued that the equipment for such a supply had to be rented on a rolling annual agreement. If the work was not completed within the year, we would have to rent the equipment for another full year. Additionally and perhaps more importantly, once the renovations were completed and the equipment returned, we would have to re-apply to Fenosa (Spain’s national electricity provider) for a permanent domestic supply.

Armed with this new information we decided to return to Raul’s and ask Miguel, the cheeky contracts manager, what the consequences would be of applying for a domestic supply from the outset. Miguel failed to provide any reasonable argument why we should pay for a temporary installation and then later pay for a permanent one. Based on this we asked him to proceed with an application for a permanent domestic supply. Fensoa would reply to our application with a written quotation within two weeks. Courteously, we thanked him for his time and returned home.

Within minutes of returning, the phone rang. To my surprise it was one of the Cambote brothers, the second of our chosen builders. Eagerly, I told him the good news about the widening of the drive. He seemed unimpressed with our efforts – if only he knew what lengths we’d gone to, then perhaps he would have been more enthusiastic. He’d rung to give us his quotation for the renovation work.

I waited with baited breath. Melanie and I had an estimated price in mind and a budget to work within. Having worked on a number of projects with various different builders we felt that our budgeted costs were realistic. Since deciding to buy the house, over fourteen months ago, we’d had plenty of time to guesstimate the overall cost – plus or minus a few thousand.

None of this prepared me for Cambote’s quotation. A prolonged, pregnant-pause followed. I finally managed to utter a few words and asked him to put his quote in writing and deliver it to the house. Melanie could see that I was visibly shocked.

“What’s the matter” she whispered, as I replaced the receiver.

I recounted my conversation with Cambote. A prolonged period of stunned silence followed. Cambote’s quotation was almost double our budget. After a few minutes I broke the calm.

“I don’t believe it! They must have made a mistake? Perhaps they don’t want the job”?

My mind was racing with thousands of different thoughts and permutations. It was unrealistic to think that we had miscalculated our budget by so much. This revelation threw the whole idea of renovating the house into question. Unless the two outstanding building quotes were much lower, we would have to consider reselling the house as it stood.

In the absence on any other quotes, we eventually decided to forget the Cambote’s and press ahead, confident that our budget and assumptions were correct.

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