When dream visions become real
Futuristic dreaming – is that possible?
During those years that I had dreams about the two mountains ending up in the sea, I lived in the city of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. There are no mountains anywhere so I disregarded these recurring dreams.
In 2001 when I moved to Cape Town to join Robin in his publishing company, I had forgotten about those dreams. His home was in the center of the city near table mountain. It was only a few years later, when we went on a sightseeing tour around the peninsula, that I remembered my dreams. From then on we would take trips over weekends to look for property with the views I had seen in my dreams.
It was our estate agent that knew of a property that had the views I described to her one day, after she had taken us around properties. I had never heard of Clovelly, but when we saw the house and looked out of one of the windows I experienced a strong Déja Vu. We made an offer and sold the house in the city for the right price to buy the house with the views of my dream. For us it seemed like a bargain at the time.
Have you ever purchased a home purely for its views or position?
We bought the house purely for its views
Our new home needed major renovations, because it was not in a good shape. It had been a rented property for years and therefore was much neglected. The road was broken up due to new electricity cables that were being installed. The price we paid for a sea view property was still a bargain, but we needed to renovate it so we would be able to run our business from home. The house had great potential, but we started inside with an office for our publishing company, the reception room would come later.
Before we moved in I started to play with the photos I took from every spot inside and outside, and manipulated them in Photoshop. We moved in December 2005 just before Christmas
In the New Year we consulted with several draftsmen showing them what we had in mind, and if it was feasible. (Architects were far too expensive).
Giving an artist's impression of our ideas was helpful. Our garage with an extra room extension would become our reception room with its own entrance. Our new garage would support the deck all along the front of the property. My intent was to make a roof garden on the top, but I kept that to myself at this time.
Renovation plans for the rest of the property
Since we worked from home and our income was not always reliable, creating an income producing home was also one of our requirements. The property had a single room at the back higher up the mountain, used as the maid’s quarters. That building was a true bonus if we could change it to a renting possibility that would cover our mortgage repayments each month.
The original house was built in 1947, and in those days domestic workers lived on the property. That is no longer happening except in very large estates.
We took out a mortgage on the property to pay for the renovations. Again Photoshop came in handy and I gave the draftsman a printout of a double storey cottage. We knew that the views would even be more stunning if it became double storey. Clovelly is a five minute walk from the beach, therefore the cottage needed to be worth renting out to holiday makers during the high season.
Waiting for plans to be passed
Our first hurdle came when we needed to ask our neighbors on both sides and also the people who lived above us to sign our plans, before we could hand them into the municipality for their approval. We never thought that would be a problem, but one neighbor was very worried about her privacy. What we didn’t know at the time was that she was a very difficult individual, who had major territorial issues. She had already taken her other neighbor to court because she clearly wanted to be in control of what other people did on their property. She did everything in her power to stop our renovations.
Whatever we suggested she was not happy. She even engaged the building inspector, who seemed to be influenced by her frequent complaints. By this time we knew what our rights were, and that she was being totally unreasonable.
During that time, over a period of several months, while waiting for the plans to be passed, we started plot clearing in the back garden while running our publishing company Kima Global Publishers.
A new hobby – Landscaping
This was a whole new adventure for us both. We employed Richard a young man from a nearby township to help me with the really heavy work, while Robin kept the business going. Plot clearing was hard work. When we pulled all the ivy away natural rock boulders appeared and that was a lovely surprise. I have a great love for rocks, and the biggest boulder at the back of our home totally inspired me to make use of them in a way that would enhance the layout of the garden slope.
Our landscaping ideas were slowly growing on us. By this time we both became interested in living off the grid one day, so we did a lot of research as to what that would entail.
Here are the underground tanks buried. One is for the collection of rainwater from the roof and one is for the grey water from our bathrooms. Both have submersible pumps that automatically pump the water up to the very top of our property, 15 meters higher.
Rain and grey water tanks
Our twenty meter long slope against the mountain that was all covered in ivy became like a Pandora’s box.
It does not rain in the summer in Cape Town, so watering a garden during the hottest months can be a major problem if you want to have a nice garden. When we purchased this home it was because of the view, and the boulders on the property, but having a vision of one day being off the grid, we needed to plan ahead. We needed to make sure that our landscaping design included tanks that could store rainwater during the rainy season in wintertime and our layout also had to include a grey water system.
Before and after
The first pondClick thumbnail to view full-size
Creating water ponds
After doing some major plot clearing we divided the property into levels. I always loved having ponds in my garden, so In order to collect as much rainwater from the roof of the main house and from the cottage roof higher on the mountain during the rainy season; we needed tanks and an ongoing harvesting system for the overflow. That is why we created many smallish collecting ponds that fitted into the garden landscape.
Building a stone pathway
We discovered many big and small rocks during the clearing of our sloping plot. We used them to build walls and the pathways on the property were landscaped with many of the flatter rocks. We built the steps on the sloping plot to look like the bottom of a river. During a heavy downpour these path would transform the natural stones and pebbles into a glossy colorful fairytale landscape
Before and after
Building of 2nd pondClick thumbnail to view full-size
Creating a waterfall feature
The existing wall on the third level was about to collapse after we had cleared the plot of all the ivy.
The hole in the wall between us and the difficult neighbor had to be closed, but she kept giving us trouble. Whatever we did on our own land, she wanted to inspect. At the beginning I thought she might come around when she saw what our plans were, but it only made things worse. She insisted on a higher boundary wall, which we did to keep her happy, but for the hole in the wall Instead of just building a brick wall I decided that it would make a great backdrop for our second pond.
I wanted to imitate the natural rocks, so it would blend in with the new wall built from natural rock. Doing it this way gave me an opportunity to create a waterfall feature in the second pond. I’ve done rock sculpturing with cement before in the previous house we had sold, so my two helpers learned how old wire, glass bottles and other metal or plastic rubbish that was left on the property came to good use.
Three months had passed but still no building plans were passed. During that time we also needed to keep the publishing company going, so in my next hub I will share the rest of our landscaping project; Our Rain and Grey Water harvesting project
A lot of our back garden is seen on the blog of our cottage and this video, after the renovations were finished.