Step 1 – FIND YOUR LAND……..

Now, this part of our story actually has nothing to do with shipping containers – it is just here so you can see how we came to this point – so feel free to skip it if you are just here for research on shipping containers as your home…….this is also a very emotional write for me as this story actually started way over 10 years ago and to suddenly see some movement again is raising all sorts of emotions in me…….

So as the years rolled along [we arrived in Corfu in 1989] my parents realised we were not coming back and thought we should start looking for something to buy for both them [so they could visit as and when ] and us to settle into… 10 years later we came across a piece of land. Firstly we weren’t looking for land – we were looking for a house, so there was that plan out of the window!

When we saw the land we could not even walk into it, or even see the borders as it had been abandoned for 15 years and to say it was overgrown – well you can imagine, actually you can’t but you get the idea! But there was something about it – far enough off the road to be peaceful but close enough to still be on a bus route and within walking distance of the village, big enough to make 2 houses, facing towards the sea and the mountains of the mainland… but did it have a view? Husband  [Andy] and Dad [Mike] hoisted themselves up various trees and assured us [My Mum and I ] that once cleared up it would… but even that aside there was “something about it” Mum said…. Where even standing on the edge, peering into the 2-meter high bramble and weeds it felt “peaceful and somewhere special”……..

So Mum and Dad paid a deposit and the fun began – to shorten this part of the story a lot let’s just say there was a problem with the paperwork – not helped by the fact that the owner lived in Australia and from the time of paying a deposit to the time we signed for it was 11 months. I think if we hadn’t actually got an email at the time, which at least meant we could communicate with the owner in Australia we would still be waiting!

shipping container home
Trying to get through to see if there was a view worth fighting for….

We thought that part was stressful enough but that was NOTHING compared to trying to design 2 houses with all the rules and regulations which we had no idea about until visiting an Architect with our topographical map…. THEN the fun began …… Things we did not know and which were law at the time [2003] but may have changed since then and if you take nothing back from this apart from this one piece of advice – if you find your piece of heaven on earth, CHECK what rules apply before buying! –

If the land is outside of the village boundary you MUST have a minimum of 4000 sqm to be able to build.

Even with 4000 sqm, you can only build a building up to 220 sqm [so we had 110 each]

The building must be 15m from each boundary – which meant we have to be VERY creative as our land was oblong with the view from the short side!

If you are building 2 structures and are outside of the village boundary they must be joined – so semi-detached houses not detached  and so on and so on……

This can be VERY annoying trying to fit in not one but two dream homes, of which ours we had been drawing on napkins since we were married and in no way resembled the small space we now had to work with!!

Now as anyone will testify all of this is stressful enough in your own country, but add on being in another country where things can be [and 99% are] done differently and you are not fluent in the language – and it gets to bursting a blood vessel/having a heart attack level … then add onto that the “emotional” side of the story – again the shortened version as that is not what this blog is about but just so you can understand a little of why we are doing this….I was an only child [my brother died very young] and hated it – I wanted at least 4 kids, met a FANTASTIC guy from a big family who wanted the same – wonderful!! Spent 10 years trying to get pregnant – now I am not moaning about that part! But as month after month passes it gets to become heart breaking when nothing wrong with either of you and you do all the old wife’s tales – drink this, eat that, take your temperature, stand on your head [now that was funny!!] etc etc… so we signed up for IVF but 2 months later, before we even started IVF – pregnant!!! Once we gave up ruling our lives for it, there he was! Then at 7 months pregnant we get the phone call – “you have to fly to the UK while you still can, your Mum is full of cancer and has less than 3 months to live”……….. So off we went……….

shipping container home

So… Mum did chemotherapy – [nothing was going to keep her from her long awaited grand-child ] and time passed – although all this was before seeing the land so the search had become more important … When we actually found the land our son Jamie was already 3 and Mum was still with us…….

So after nearly a year of craziness buying the land there then follows 2 years of shuffling little paper squares around a grid square to fit everything in and a wheelbarrow full of money- the final plan is admitted and passed, we spend every available minute cutting, strimming, chopping, burning our way through to each boundary to reveal our prize and it’s view ….but then Mum deteriorates and time passes and dreams fade. One thing to be said though is do not always believe your doctors – she was told she was so full of cancer that she may just see her grandchild born if she was lucky, she actually died when he was 12 years old.

shipping container home

So more years passed and the land just sat there… sometimes we would go and cut wood for the fire, when our beloved Labrador, our first “baby”, died he was buried there, Andy and Jamie would go shooting up there, but as a whole it grew again and nature reclaimed it …….. But as time changes so do your priorities and suddenly we were over 50 and suddenly we are thinking of how we are getting on and still have nothing of value to leave our son….. So out comes the strimmer, the chainsaw and it is time to start again.

The only thing is we will never have the money to build the house of our dreams from cement and bricks and stone and neither of us really wants the stress levels of what that would also entail – so apart from a tent or a caravan what other options are out there? Then about 5 years ago [yes this plan has been formulating for that long! ] a friend mentions staying in someones house and it wasn’t until they mentioned it that they even realised it was in fact made out of 2 shipping containers……light bulb over the head moment –  ahhhhhaaaa!!!! And so begins the quest… and the research and the options and, and, and, and, and, and finally a plan – we will make our home from shipping containers!

shipping container home
In memory of Mum /Yia-yia……….
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The mad Monro family making a home from shipping containers on the island of Corfu, Greece.....

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