EDITION: August - October 2014

Tips for renovating your home

IbiCASA is delighted to have had the opportunity to chat with a true construction/renovation specialist about the future of property construction on the island and adding value to our existing housing stock.

The administrators of M&S Bauservice, Constanze Gottschalk and Holger Müller, have been living and constructing on Ibiza for over 15 years. They are very familiar with the newest construction materials and technologies and are convinced that caring for and improving our older homes and buildings – which may have originally been constructed with materials of inferior quality and little vision – not only improves the quality of our life, but at the same time increases the value of our properties.

These home improvements can be adapted to each personal budget, simply by separating the improvements into phases to be done over a period of time. Holger suggests starting with the roof. A poorly constructed or badly maintained roof can be the source of humidity throughout the entire house; as water can seep from the roof throughout the interior walls of the home without us even being aware of it. A poorly constructed roof also needs a lot of attention and yearly repair. Repairs, material and labour add up while never fully solving the problem; as water always finds a way into the house which makes leaks difficult to find. Adding proper thermal roofing insulation and then applying the most modern techniques of waterproofing will leave your house dryer and warmer for many years to come. Most modern-day thermal insulation and waterproofing techniques are supported by a five-year guarantee, and tend to last even longer without the need for any care, repair or maintenance except cleaning.

Exterior and interior walls are also worth some attention. Many homes in Ibiza have been built with single block walls as opposed to double walls with insulation in between. Single walls allow valuable heat to escape and humidity and cold to enter. There are now many quick and inexpensive solutions that don’t require constructing a second wall. Through innovative technology it is easy to install thermal insulation boards to your exterior walls and then cover them over with a special mortar, thereby fortifying your single walls and at the same time adding important insulation designed to keep the cold and humidity out, and the warmth in. Thermal insulation boards are humidity resistant and will substantially increase your in-home comfort while raising its value and saving you a lot on your heating bills.

Both internal and external walls which continue to display cracks and openings (even after many repairs) indicate a problem which could be a weakening of the wall and structure, at the same time allowing humidity to enter. When the steel beams within a wall start to corrode, they expand creating a weakening of the surrounding wall. The wall will continue to crack and cannot be repaired properly by repairing the outside layer. This is an indication that the strength of the wall is weakening and could be in danger of collapse one day. The proper solution is to strip the cement down to the steel beams, remove the corrosion from the beams, and then replace the cement. Proper repairs are important to the safety and welfare of the house and people in it.

Floors are the next things worth concentrating on. Many older homes, or homes built for only summer occupation, have foundations only under the supporting walls, not directly under the floors or interior walls. So under the floors is only sand (for levelling) and approx. 3cm to 5cm of mortar or weak concrete (sometimes reinforced with steel), with the tiles installed directly on top. This turns the floor into a source of cold and dampness. A dry and warm floor is most important for comfortable living. If you are unsure if the floor of your house has a proper foundation, it is advisable to bring in a specialist who can remove a floor tile from an unimportant area, such as a cupboard, and inform you of the actual situation.

If you plan to change your floor tiles and your floor is indeed only installed on a layer of sand it is recommended that you lay new floor tiles directly on top of the existing tiles (even though you will have to shave the associated height of the new tiles off the existing doors), as removing the old tiles may break the cement base and end up creating an even bigger job. However, the ideal approach in these situations (funds allowing) is to remove the tiles and the entire (cement) base, getting right down to the earth. You then dig down 10cm further and construct a sturdy cement platform. On top of that, put thermal insulation and cover the thermal insulation with mortar. You can then place the tiles on top of that and enjoy a house that is considerably warmer with no humidity coming through the floor. If your budget permits, it is also highly advisable to install underfloor heating whilst doing this renovation. •