After a year of designing and planning, we have (finally!) broken ground in Bali and begun construction of our villas. It's been a busy and exciting roller-coaster of a week.
One big piece of news is that we decided to divide our plot of land into two, and we're actually building two houses - one will be our home for some the year, and the other will be a full-time holiday rental. The two houses have been designed to be complementary aesthetically, without being identical twins.
Right now construction is focused on preparing the land; clearing and grading the area, and filling it with hardcore. There is a lot of water in the earth on our plot, so it needs to be dredged and stabilized in advance of laying the foundation. Bali is also in an earthquake zone, and our home has been engineered to US building codes and safety standards.
One of the complications with our project is road access. Our plot of land is down a little lane, known locally as a "gang", which makes it difficult to get supplies in and out. We like the location down the little lane because it's a bit more private, and nice not to be on a main road, but it does make things a bit more challenging for our construction crew.
In order to overcome the issue, our team is creating a temporary access road through the middle of our land. The building that is intended for this area (our entrance foyer!) will be completed last.
At the moment the build is slated to take 13 months to complete, but who knows what unforeseen complications may pop up to delay things. On the very first day of construction we faced quite a confronting issue... Our crew had a land surveyor on site to demarcate the boundary of our land, and their measurement of the site was significantly smaller than our what was stated on our contract (and what we paid for). Talk about a stressful first day on site.
After a few days of investigations and meetings with our real estate agent and the original landowner, we figured out the discrepancy. The confusion happened because one of our neighbors has accidentally built a retaining wall and temporary accommodation on our plot of land. We believe this to have been an honest mistake, and it's a relief to solve the mystery. However, we are still faced with the added complication of having to negotiate terms for the removal of this building from our land, so we can get on with our own project. One thing we have learned over the years with our various building projects, is that you can never predict what problems will arise!
Even though we've started construction, we're still working on some of the finer design details. In truth, we've been *nearly finished* for a few months, but the devil is in the details, and these design iterations have taken us a lot longer than we anticipated.
We're working with a color palette of greens inspired by verdigris (the bright bluish-green color that copper becomes after it oxidizes) as well as the verdant greens of lush tropical plants. These greens will be combined with natural woods and stones.
Some of the materials we have selected include Indian slate for the swimming pool, reclaimed stone for the outdoor pathways, Indian limestone for the ground floor inside, teak for the floorboards, and a variety of different colored slates for floors and walls. We'll also be incorporating some green 'living' garden walls, and traditional Indonesian stone wall carvings.
We are also incorporating traditional Balinese wood carving into the design, with hand carved panels and doors featuring throughout the villas. In addition to searching for antiques pieces to incorporate into the design, I have also spent some time in Mas, an area known for it's wood carving tradition. It was incredible to see the artisans at work, carving intricate patterns into traditionally shaped wooden doors. The skill and workmanship involved is absolutely stunning. It's a real privilege to be able to incorporate some of these traditional arts and crafts into our home.
This week I have been on a particular mission to finalize all the bathroom tiles. We want each bathroom to have it's own distinct vibe, and unique set of tiles, without too much repetition. We're also trying to use as many local craftsmen and materials as possible, so finding all of these tiles has meant many hours driving around Bali on our scooter :-)
We were excited to find a supplier who mines a beautiful white marble from the Indonesian island of Sumatra, and we'll be incorporating his stone into some of our showers. We also discovered a wonderful ceramic tile factory, where every tile is crafted by hand. They had some stunning, vibrant glazes, and we'll be using those to create colorful mosaic feature walls.