In May 2010, the time had come. After some 45 years of getting to know the Greek islands and collecting enough comparative material to be able to choose the nicest place in the Aegean to settle down, the choice fell on Télendos.
Télendos is a small island with about 35 inhabitants, without motorised traffic, in the immediate vicinity of Kálymnos. Both islands are the favourite destination of professional mountaineers. The mountain walls are exceptionally steep and overhanging in places. There are many deep caves. Our eye fell on the narrow strip of land next to the high mountain formation that dominates most of the island. The view of the Kálymnos opposite is breathtakingly beautiful. The strip of land with a pine forest is so narrow (800 metres) that the sea is very close on both sides. The beach at Chóchlaka, on one side, is surrounded by jagged colourful volcanic rocks. The helpful boatmen of Télendos maintain a frequent connection to Kálymnos with their kayk. The crossing takes only 12 minutes.
It was finally time to find out how we could get a house there. The estate agent from Kálymnos who tried to help us first presented existing houses with a lot of lack of maintenance and a hefty asking price. It turned out to be more financially attractive to build one ourselves. The estate agent had contact with a contractor who was prepared to build on Télendos. Not everyone wanted that. The supply of building materials was difficult because everything had to be brought in by ship and there was no mechanised transport on an island with a single donkey.
The very first bump that had to be taken was to find a place where the archaeological service would give permission to build. This proved to be no easy task on an island filled mainly with Byzantine ruins and early Christian remains. While digging trial trenches, important remains were repeatedly encountered, after which another site had to be found. This was finally found. Agreement was soon reached with the contractor on the plans for a two-storey house with a large terrace on the top floor and a splendid view. Although no written agreement had been reached yet, the contractor had already started moving rock and levelling the site for the construction, indeed he had already started building the concrete skeleton of the lower building! Contractor and estate agent told us that things could now proceed in a simple way. We had to pay “only” 40% of the total building costs as a deposit and sign a personal agreement stating the quality and design requirements that had to be met.
This seemed like a lot of money and also very simple, so it was time to find people who were familiar with the laws and regulations that exist in Greece when acquiring a piece(s) of land and a house under construction.
I remembered that a long time ago, in the magazine “Lychnari” (about the developments in Greece today), I had read an advertisement of a company “Elxis” in Utrecht. We found the telephone number and made contact with Mr Vangélis Nástos and Mr Giórgos Gavriilídis, Greek lawyers. At the Elxis office, we were quickly given a lot of explanation about the way in which the law was regulated in Greece and how and in what order procedures should be followed. Especially the common risks and the inadequacy of the proposal of our, otherwise well meaning, real estate agent and contractor were pointed out. A “hand out” was given to us on which everything was clearly written down.
We agreed on the support we needed from Elxis. It was then ensured that in the near future we would only enter into commitments on the basis of adequate documents. For example, there could be no doubt about the current ownership of the land, the building permit had to be complete and correct and, above all, the destination of the land had to be in line with the building plans. Elxis ensured that the correct documents were available after the necessary corrections.
It was well explained to us what we had to take care of ourselves at Kálymnos, such as obtaining a tax number and a residence permit. Because Télendos is located in the border area with Turkey, there were some extra conditions that had to be met in order to buy the plot of land and build a house. For example, an additional signature from the local military authority was needed for the permission at the regional responsible committee. It must be said that due to the alertness of the contractor, all the necessary stamps and signatures were quickly placed in the right places. If he had not taken on the necessary courier services himself on his motorbike, it would have taken much longer.
Then we entered the phase where everything had to be notarised and legally confirmed. There was the purchase of a piece of land with a concrete skeleton and there had to be an agreement for the completion of the house. An unusual situation. Elxis presented a “real estate purchase agreement with down payment” and in addition a “private construction agreement”. This was therefore a case of tailor-made care. Elxis also used a lawyer from nearby Kos for this case. Finally the documents could be notarised in the presence of the notary, the lawyer of the seller and “our” lawyer from Kos. The next day the further construction started immediately. The house was delivered in the agreed condition two months (!) earlier than the contractor was obliged to. In August 2011 we moved in.
The contractor in particular learned a lot from the support provided by Elxis and has resolved to focus more on foreign customers in the future. He now knows ‘the tricks of the trade’.