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Puntos de vista - a personal Spain blog

Musings about Spain and Spanish life by Paul Whitelock, hispanophile of 40 years and now resident of Ronda in Andalucía .

A building project nears completion - Casa Real, Montejaque (Málaga)
Monday, September 6, 2021 @ 6:20 AM


Casa Real, Montejaque (Málaga)

Pablo de Ronda came across the house that was to become Casa Real quite by chance one Sunday afternoon after visiting the house next door.

As I emerged from No. 2, I noticed a private “se vende” sign attached to the rejas of the house next door.

 “Oh, it’s for sale!” I pronounced somewhat unnecessarily.

“Yes, it’s Armando’s house”, said my companion. Armando just happens to be my favourite bar owner in the village. It was still opening time, so off I went straight to his bar to ask whether I could view the property.

“Of course. I shall be closing shortly, so we can go then”.

Armando informed me that the house had been his family home. His parents had long since passed away, so the house belonged to him and his three siblings, the heirs.

I looked at the house and was smitten. I could see its potential straightaway and decided I wanted it. After the easing of the first Covid-19 lockdown, I needed something to do, a project, so I bought it.

The process seemed to take ages, partly because the house had no papers and it was summer and one of the notaries shut for two weeks for holidays. It wasn’t until the end of August that we were able to seal the deal at the notary.

And so to work. The house needed a re-wire and new plumbing, so San Jorge got to work cutting out the channels in the walls for the tubing and electric cables and José Antonio “El Suave” started replacing the old lead piping with copper.

The next job was to remove two tabiques, partition walls, between the lounge and what had been Armando’s mum’s bedroom, and said bedroom and the kitchen, in order to create an open plan, L-shaped lounge, dining room and kitchen.

Then disaster struck …..


Everything was going fine until we discovered that the kitchen ceiling, also the floor of the room on the first floor that was to become the second bathroom, was unsafe. On investigation we discovered that the wooden beams had rotted.

Andy, a structural engineer friend, who lives in the village, advised that we would probably have to demolish that part of the house and rebuild it – not cheap!

Jorge and José, however, reckoned they could avoid that by replacing the wooden vigas one by one with reinforced steel concrete beams. This is what they did painstakingly, but with great success.

That crisis over we spent the next several months gradually renovating the house. The two Js did the masonry and plastering and heavy lifting, while I converted the existing bathroom into a modern and stylish wetroom. I had a bit of help from José with the plumbing , but I did all the tiling myself. A very relaxing and satisfying enterprise – it easily beats inspecting schools, my last job before I retired.

Despite two further Covid-19 lockdowns, which cost us four months when we couldn’t work, a year after we started, Casa Real is nearing completion.

I decided to call the house Casa Real in honour of Armando and his family and forebear who had owned and occupied the house for three generations, its entire life in fact. Why Real? That means royal or real, doesn’t it? Well, it’s also their family surname.

There were tears in the eyes of at least one sibling when they found out. They were dead chuffed!


Although I was fully involved with the work from start to finish, I had help, of course.

With me from the start back in August 2020 until May 2021 was “San Jorge”, an albañil born in the same town as General Franco, El Ferrol in Galicia.

Jorge first turned up to dig a ditch at our house in Ronda. But this rather shy and private man soon revealed other talents, including bricklaying, plastering, painting, carpentry, electrics and tree felling.

When I asked him to help me out with Casa Real he threw himself enthusiastically into the project.

José Antonio “El Suave”, locally born and a trained albañil, began to do the odd day before soon becoming full time.

José is a brilliant plumber, bricklayer, plasterer, carpenter, tiler. He can turn his hand to anything. He is still with me and has taken ownership of the job. He’s the foreman and I’m his peón.

Stewart “El Alto”, a former neighbour, has done the odd day and did a lot of the “heavy lifting”. Well, he’s younger than the rest of us.

Recently we have been joined by Miriam, “La Constructora”, José’s daughter. She came initially to do a bit of cleaning, but quickly demonstrated other skills, such as grouting, plastering, mixing mortar and much more. She is now virtually full time and keeps José and me on our toes!

Now that we’re reaching completion, my wife Rita, the “Meter Maid”, has come on board advising on décor and sewing curtains. She is our fiercest critic, which is a good thing.

I am extremely grateful to all five of my collaborators, who have become good friends.


I can’t wait to “move in”. I’ve already stayed there several nights, mind. Why not? I have electricity, hot and cold running water, a fridge, a TV and a very comfortable bed. Me staying overnight meant that I was on hand for a bit of nocturnal tiling or painting when I couldn’t sleep!

My first guests move in for 11 days at the end of September. They are old friends, having stayed in Casa Rita, our other rental property, 12 times in the last six years!

Let’s hope they give Casa Real the thumbs up!


Articles on a similar theme in Eye on Spain include:

The Houses That Jack Built

The Building History of a 71-year-old DIY Fan

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