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  • Steve Holloway

My Property Dream: The Magic Make-over,Testimonial for Cyprus HomeCare

My Property Dream: The Magic Make-over By Virginia Waite (Journalist for the Observer and BBC TV presenter

) 2004 It took four weeks to transform a one-bedroom ground floor apartment in Paphos, Cyprus, from a shabby bolthole into a little jewel. Its 46 meters comprise living room, kitchen, hall bathroom and bedroom The patio adds another 20 to that figure and looks out on a sea view and beach two hundred yards away. I found the makeover team by accosting the first British person I saw. And that struck gold. She was Zoe, maid-of -all-work, whose husband is Martin, sidekick to Graham, running a plumbing company, and keen scuba diver with boat. They size up the job the next day and send me off to buy washing machine and dishwasher. The electrical goods store apologizes that as it's early closing they can't deliver until tomorrow. This is better than the 48hours the bedroom furniture people needed, but can't beat the fridge-freezer which was wheeled out of the shop, loaded into the van and driven straight to the apartment, with me as passenger. The white goods come as promised, coinciding with the arrival of Steve, the electrician ( recommended by Graham ), who sensibly brings his brother Adrian , painter and decorator with him. Both are scuba-divers. The brothers "stopped off" in Cyprus on motorbikes three years ago, whilst travelling around Europe on an exciting adventure. The brotherly work dovetails nicely and they often give each other a hand. Complete re-wiring is needed. Steve supplies the technical bits and I am to buy light fittings, bulbs and shades. Adrian weighs up the paint and materials he needs and decides what the carpenters need to do before he starts. Of course his chums Mark and Tom are the carpentry answer. I taxi to Woolworth's and its lighting department and buy for the kitchen, hall bedroom and patio helped by Paul whop gives me a 15 percent discount because Steve is his chum. Graham and Martin, with a large van which is their travelling workshop, redo The bathroom, shower, pipes, taps and valves and remake the kitchen, reversing the taps as previous plumber had hot water flowing out of the cold tap, and then put in fitments for clothes and dishwashers. Grahams chum Zercon, arrives to discuss air-conditioning in the bedroom, and calls his son to bring the unit and everything else needed. They install the whole thing in 45 minutes, including drilling through the wall to connect the compressor on the outside. I'm off the next day to another lighting emporium to meet John, Paul's chum ( do try to keep up, Paul is the lighting man at Woolworth's). I buy fittings for the bathroom, and living room, including a handsome punkah fan. Its all half price. Then it's the big plumbing day, starting with hoisting by crane from Graham's pantechnicon on to the roof of the three-storey building two water tanks, a steel cradle to hold them and a solar heating panel. Graham ("without a safety net!") and martin remove the old and install the new in two and a half hours. Then they plumb in the clothes and dish washers, fix the outside tap and secure with copper piping the water softener to the meter in the garage. I disconnect this on leaving so that others cannot tap into my water at my expense. Finishing tasks include extending and hiding with cement a waste pipe from the apartment above, which has been spilling on to my doorstep. Plumbing time: two and-a-half days. Maid-of-all work Zoe does a half stage clean up. Next day the living room furniture is moved out on to the patio, and passers-by ask if I'm having a car boot sale . this procedure is repeated in the next couple of weeks. Steve begins re-wiring using noisy dusty angle grinder to "chase in" the walls. Brother Adrian comes by later to lend a hand. This pattern is also repeated, sometimes the work not ending until 20.00. The wiring is hidden, there are many many double points, the light fittings look super and Steve concluded by fixing light in bathroom cabinet, and replacing doorbell and switch. Electrician's time: three and-a-half days. With help from brother Adrian . Mark and tom ,the carpentry team, estimate and deliver. Tom works concurrently with Steve, who also installs the cooker Tom adds shelves in kitchen cupboards, makes stand for the microwave using an old worktop, puts wooden plates at base of front door to mask rotten wood, boxes in kitchen sink area and removes doors of four kitchen cabinets. By the following afternoon, with more wood delivery, Tom has made and rehung the cabinet doors, and put up four long shelves in the living room. Carpentry time; two days Adrian, the painter, begins his monster task, handing me colour charts to choose the stain for the bookshelves. He fills in walls and ceiling where necessary, stains and varnishes the new items and refreshes the lovely carved beams and panels. His personal saying is "another coat won't do any harm." Painting/decorating time: 11 days The front door with its new brass numbers and fresh stain dries and Zoe cleans every inch of the apartment. Next time around Adrian will refresh the furniture: sofa bed, two armchairs, coffee table, dining table and chairs. Zoe will plant a herb garden in the earth patch on the patio. Then there will be a team party.

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