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Contribute your skills for creating our dream home in Coañana Quiros, Spain

  • Favourited 5 times
  • Last activity: 7 Mar 2024



 Min stay requested: at least a week



  • Description


    We, Cristina and Paul, are in the process of building our dream home in the heart of the Asturian mountains, Northern Spain. To find our little piece of paradise we signed up as Workaway volunteers and travelled northern Spain asking our hosts about the area and their experience of where they live. As a result we are now good friends with a couple of our hosts and are in contact regularly. We would now like to pass on our experience to any one who may be thinking to do the same and payback the Workaway community as a whole for the benefits it brought us.
    We share our land with a menagerie of animals, 2 dogs, 2 cats and a small flock of free range chickens. They are all very much part of our family and much loved. The land is within the boundaries of a small mountain Pueblo with a wonderful, thriving sense of community. Within the wider area of our valley there are a number of like minded people engaged in permaculture projects and building a homes and lives for themselves. Many are expats from other other European countries, a great potential for cultural exchange. Cristina is originally from Malaga, Paul from England.
    The house we're building will be a high performing house based on Passivhaus principles and we'll will be doing the majority of the building work ourselves. Currently we've submitted our plans to the town hall and are awaiting a licence to start the work. Since buying the land and moving here, to live in a small caravan for the duration of the build, we have planted a number of fruit trees and bushes and put up a poly-tunnel. We are planning to realise a forest garden, which is a new set of skills for us to learn – any help and guidance will be much appreciated. We eat a varied diet of vegetarian and meat dishes mostly cooked in the Spanish style, with an abundance of fresh eggs.

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    DIY and building projects
    General Maintenance
  • UN sustainability goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN sustainability goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN goals
    No poverty
    Zero hunger
    Good health and well-being
    Quality education
    Gender equality
    Clean water and sanitation
    Affordable and clean energy
    Decent work and economic growth
    Industries, innovation and infrastructure
    Reduce inequality
    Sustainable cities and communities
    Responsible consumption and production
    Climate action
    Life below water
    Life on land
    Peace, justice and strong institutions
    Partnerships for the goals
  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Spanish and English are fluently spoken by your hosts so there is opportunity to practice your speaking if you are learning. We have a couple of neighbours and good friends who are Dutch as well as a variety of locals and other expats in the valley all working on their interesting and diverse projects. Should they be of interest to you we could make an introduction. There are regular meet ups to go for cold water swims, clean and reopen local walking paths and spontaneous BBQs, you would be welcome to join us attending.
    So as a way to give you and ourselves the best experience we will be selecting certain weeks in the year where we can take time from our jobs to be working and playing along side you. We'd like to have a number of volunteers on site at the same time, which we hope will enrich the cultural exchange for you as well as maximise the returns for our commitment. We will have a structured work plan – all up breakfasted and working in the morning when its coolest, finishing together for a prepared communal lunch, with the afternoon for your free time. We are expecting you to help hard and efficiently along side us, as hosts, and other Workaway volunteers, from 9am until 2pm. The tasks will likely be physical and require you to take directions if it's a task you're unfamiliar with. If this sounds like fun to you, then you're our volunteers! Then to say a big thank you for your help and efforts during the week we will plan something totally different together for a weekend of relaxation – a walk in the mountains, trip to the beach, sightseeing trip to Oviedo, visit a local mountain spa, all open for negotiation.
    So if you are wanting an ad-hoc, unstructured experience where you can get up and breakfasted at a time that suits you and choose when and where to put in your 4-5 hours each day, then we are not the hosts for you.
    In return for your commitment and help there will opportunity to learn: dry stone walling; earth bag construction; carpentry skills; building and DIY; human-manure composting; water irrigation, etc. As for the house project, I've done a considerable amount of research and learning about building science, particularly suited to Passivhaus principles. I'd be happy to go through our plans and explain our thinking behind the decisions should you be interested or planning a project yourself.

  • Help


    We require help constructing low retaining walls to provide planting terraces and a flat lawn spaces. As we are on a hill side flat space is hard won and a luxury. We plan to build them from a variety of materials, stone, timber and earth bags so there is a chance for some skill sharing here.
    Depending on the time of year you arrive there will be help needed planting vegetables, pruning fruit trees and general grounds maintenance.
    We currently use our grey water to irrigate the land and will do the same once in the new house. Help digging and laying new irrigation systems is needed along with constructing new Swales to capture rain run off.
    A small extension to the workshop is planned to create a separate toilet and utilities space. Help to manually dig the foundations and lay some blocks will be appreciated.
    I´m sure there will be a variety of other tasks that'll need attending to – step/path building, seating areas, general maintenance, maybe even a pond!

  • Accommodation


    I'll start by saying what we can't offer, which is luxury accommodation and facilities.
    We can offer a flat space to park your van or pitch your tent. We have a couple of 2/3 person tents should you need a tent and will provide bedding and a camping mat if you aren't travelling with your own sleeping bag.
    The shower is a shared one in the extension attached to our caravan. It's not what most would call a 'private space' as it is right by the front door and entrance to our caravan. The extension is used by the dogs and as an overflow from the caravan. However, with some good communication and planning we will be able to provide enough privacy for your showering needs. As a way of compensation, we can guarantee enough hot water at a sufficient pressure.
    Toileting is a much more private affair, you'll be glad to read, and if previous volunteers have done a good job there will be a new outhouse to house 'the throne'. It will still be a composting toilet and all solids are composted on site.
    We'll provide three meals a day, with the main meal of the day being lunch served after the mornings work. We eat and provide a varied diet of healthy vegetarian and meat dishes mostly cooked in the Spanish style and will do our best to cater for individual preferences within the meal being prepared. Due to our compact living arrangements delivering different meals to cater for vastly different individual dietary needs is difficult for us.
    Please note our grey water is used to irrigate the land, so we ask kindly that you choose Eco friendly products for washing.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    There are many walking and cycling paths and trails to explore locally. A few Km down the valley is a very well known rock climbing area. Below there is a lake that hires canoes and a bike hire place not far from us.

    If you are keen to visit the big city, there is a regular bus service from Barzana also a fast train from Madrid to Oviedo in Pola de Lena.

  • A little more information

    A little more information

    • Internet access

    • Limited internet access

      Limited internet access

    • We have pets

    • We are smokers

    • Can host families

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?

    More than two

  • ...

    Hours expected

    Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week

Host ref number: 385177321795