We are restoring an 1850 old traditional house located in Valeapai, a remote village in western Romania, in the Caras-Severin county. Our project is aimed at preserving the cultural and architectural value of the building while helping transforming an otherwise forgotten corner of the country into a friendly place for tourists. We strive to use old techniques for rebuilding the house, using mainly cob, stone and wood.
We bought the property in august 2016 and decided to bring it back to life as it once was. It consists of a small house built on a wooden frame, sitting on a foundation made of rocks. Outside walls are built with wood and cob and inside walls with mud bricks. The pavement is also made out of cob. There are also two annexed buildings, one of which is also very old, made in a traditional manner.
Nobody lived in the house for the past 20 years, yet it managed to stay in a fairly good shape. For us it is a proof that old techniques of building houses are worth preserving. We want to strike a balance between modern comfort and traditional ways of life. So for now we can only offer the basic comfort, but improving all the time.
The house is small, but the rest of the property is fairly big, with two garden terraces, two orchard areas and a vineyard. In the back of the garden we are bordering with a small forest, so there's a lot of natural surroundings, with an incredible diversity of birds, butterflies and even squirrels or foxes.
Our plan for this year is to restore the walls, demolish an annex (which was built much later on, in the 1960s), rebuild the fences and main gate, bring back to life the neglected garden and orchard and many more. Any help is welcomed! We are absolutely positive that you will have an exciting experience joining us in this project!
A little bit about us: we are Radu (35 yrs old) and Nicoleta (37), a young married couple with two children - Tereza (4) and Tudor (almost 2) - and we live in the city of Timisoara. The house we're restoring is located in a village some 60 km from our city (it takes about 1h15min to get there). We go there almost twice a week, especially on weekends and holidays, so if you decide to come and stay longer, some days you'll be having the whole place for your own, others you will spend together with fellow workawayers.
Hilfe bei Ökoprojekten
Hilfe bei Kunstprojekten
We wish you could help us in the restoration process of the main building, annexes, gate and fences, or with diverse tasks in the garden, orchard or vineyard. If you know how to build, saw, sand-dust, paint and so on, then you will have a lot of fun. If you don't, you'll have the chance to learn and we bet you'll like it! Some of the tasks include:
- Clean the house
- Cook your own food
- Make fire for heating, cooking, hot water (during winter)
To-do List (easy tasks):
- Treat wood structures with wood stain
- Paint windows
- Build new vegetables boxes (out of reclaimed wood)
- Build a new compost box (reclaimed wood)
- Whitewash tree bases (using lime mix)
- Gather and chop fallen branches
- Stockpile all wood
- Clean the garden areas for wood branches, weeds
- Clean Room 2, 3, Annex 1
- Clean and paint the window frames (blue)
- Clean and paint the doors (blue)
- Recondition the old commode (repair, grind the surface, paint)
- Recondition the old bed
- Recondition the old cabinet
- Recondition table in Room 1 (grind the surface, paint)
- Reorder tools and goods in Room 3
- Gather ripe fruits and vegetables
To-do list (medium tasks):
- Build main wooden fence foundation (rocks and mortar)
- Main wooden fence decorations and reinforcement
- Build new main gate
- Restore wall coating in Room 2 (using clay and mortar) - almost finished
- Restore clay cover in the attic
- Clean the Kennel
- Restore coating on Kennel/
- Install garden fence
- Build outside shower wood fencing/curtain
- Restore house coating with clay (sideways)
- Reinforce wooden stairs to garden 2
- Repair window frames
- Build window shutters
- Rebuild Shed wooden walls
- Build outside toilet
- Build outside shower
- Treat and restore the wooden ceiling in Room 1 (deep clean, fill unnatural gaps)
- Clean/reorganize the Shed
- Restore ancient harvester
- Remove dirt floor in Room 2
- Build wooden stairs to back of the house and Garden 2
- Finish building bricks floor in Room 2
To-do list (heavy tasks):
- Complete works on the porch (fencing, ornaments, floor)
- Build new gateway
- Build wood deck in Room 1
- Build main alley in the courtyard
- Mount roof water collecting system
- Repair and replace windows
- Restore roof (with fishtail roof tiles)
- Build inside toilet
- Restore and rebuild Room 3 (walls, floor, replace ceiling wood)
- Tame the area towards the woods
- Fix property surrounding fences
- Restore vineyard (new poles and wires, replace old plants) - partly done
- Demolish Annex1
- Build the new porch
- Build the cob oven
Romanian, English, French, Italian and some German
Sleeping. As of today, we have only one room (out of three) that is ready for guests. It is fairly big and it has two double beds. We provide you with clean sheets weekly. Alternatively, tents can be placed on our lawn or anywhere in the garden and orchard. The second room is in the process of becoming the kitchen, to free space in the main room.
Eating. We have a small kitchen with an electric stove, kitchenware and a fridge. You can cook inside or make a fire for grill outside. We provide basic foodstuffs, vegetables, fruit, diary products, bread, some meat etc. We try to make sure you have enough for three meals a day. You have to prepare them as you like. If you have special requirements, let us know in advance and we will try to provide you with what you need. Also, you can buy groceries from the two village shops (one of them is fairly supplied).
Washing. The house is connected to electricity but has no running water and no inside toilet. You'll have to get your own water from a community water well some 50 m away. We have an eco-toilet and a shower area outside, for summer. We provide clean towels. During winter, you wash inside, using warm water that you boil on the stove, just like many villagers still do.
Phone signal and wi-fi. Mobile phone signal is very weak inside the house and the courtyard, but gets better as you walk up the hill in the backyard, where you could also catch some mobile internet. On some mobile phones you can catch signal inside the house but it is not reliable. There is no wi-fi. We have a Romanian phone that you can use for receiving calls and some limited internet se.
Other amenities. We don't have a tv and we have no intention to spoil the mood by installing one. For heating we use the wood burning stove, which you have to take care of at all times during winter, to warm the house. Alternatively, we have an electrical stove that may be use in case of emergency.
Travel. If you have your own means of transport (car, bike, motorbike) you can go straight to the house in Valeapai. If you do not, then the main option is to meet with us in Timisoara and we'll take you there by car (we also offer you the trip back). There is no public transport that will take you to the village, and hitchhiking on the last part of the road would be difficult.
Getting to Timisoara is now easier than ever, with two budget airlines available on the airport, with connections to many major European airports. If you come from Bucharest, the train option is the safest, but takes a long time. Let us know in advance and we can help you find the more convenient transport option.
Sightseeing. You can explore the village with its castle ruins, old mill and traditional buildings. Surrounding villages are interesting as well, especially the "ghost-village" of Barbosu, close to Valeapai. Many biking and hiking trails are available. The surrounding mountains and forests are little explored by tourists, but rewarding for those who like pristine environment. The river crossing our village is great for fishing and even swimming (there's a pond where villagers gather to have a swim).
If you plan on staying more than two weeks you will have time to explore the biggest tourist attractions in the area - the city of Timisoara, Semenic Mountains, Danube gorges etc.
Other. For a truly meaningful experience we advise our guests to stay for at least 10 days - 2 weeks or even a month, but a week is fine as well. The more you stay, the more you get immersed in the community and lifestyle.
We hope you come as a guest, become a true villager during you stay and then leave as a friend!
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Together with us you will take part in the restoration process and learn old building and restoring techniques using cob, wood and stone. For gardening, we are using basic no-till techniques and permaculture. If you already have some knowledge of the above we are happy to learn from you!
We will introduce you into the social, cultural and economic context and help you discover the whole area of western Romania. When more workawayers stay at the house, the experience can be more fun and enjoyable. We can help revive community life, bring back traditions and set an example in building restoring.
Remember: you will have to take care of the house as it was yours! You will be more than a tourist and a guest, you will have to be a true local villager, a part of the community, with its rules and own lifestyle. You will have to be flexible and adaptable to the needs of the house, of what's going on in the village, of what needs to be done, each moment of your stay.
Maximum 3-4 hours a day, 5 days a week
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