(No) Drainage in Villages?
Observe the Lie of the Land
Many people fail to take note of the land their property sits on. It is vital that you observe the landscape surrounding your plot.
If your house is built on a slope or incline, rainwater will run off from higher ground and engulf or maybe even flood portions of your house. If your home is adjacent to or traversed by a stream, it may overflow during periods of heavy rainfall. If your home is located in a flood plain then adequate drainage should be your first priority.
If you do not know the area well, it is wise to talk with your neighbours to determine if there have been any instances of high water or an excessive surplus of water in periods of extensive rainfall.
Many houses are built on soil instead of solid rock. Soil types vary from region to region and even within a 5-acre area. You need to determine if the soil is stable, especially if you intend to build on a hillside. Some soils do not absorb water very well and this could present big problems when building your septic tank.
The Septic Tank
Septic tank is an alien concept to all who have been used to flushing the loo and leaving the rest to the council! Bulgaria does not have a national waste management system and it is left to the individual property owners in the Bulgarian villages to take responsible for all waste and water flushed through their household drainage pipes. It is therefore essential that you ensure your property has an adequate sized underground septic tank to hold all of your waste.
A septic tank is a watertight box usually made of pre-cast concrete, concrete blocks, or reinforced fibreglass, which lies below the ground. Access is via a metal hatch above ground. When household waste enters the septic tank several things occur: Lighter-than-water organic solid material floats to the surface and forms a layer of what is commonly called “scum”. Bacteria in the septic tank biologically convert this material to liquid. Inorganic or inert solid materials and the by-products of bacterial digestion sink to the bottom of the tank and form a layer commonly known as “sludge”. Only clear water should exist between the scum and sludge layers. It is this clear water that should overflow into the soil absorption area.
You need to contact either the local water authorities or another private company to empty it on a regular basis. The frequency with which it needs emptying will depend on the size of the tank and the amount of use.
Gutters and Down Pipes
In heavy rain, a lot of rain falls onto the roof of your house and it is important to allow it to drain away from the house through a reliable gutter system. Gutters should be 100 mm to 112 mm in order to catch the rainfall effectively. The rain then flows into a down pipe, which should be 68-75 mm in diameter. Guttering and down pipes are available in UPVC and in aluminium in Bulgaria.
In most Western European countries, one the rainwater had flowed from the roof into the guttering and down pipe; it would pour into a gulley, which would take the water off into the underground drainage system. However, the lack of drainage in Bulgaria means that you need to consider various alternatives.
At the bottom of the down pipe, a collar can be fitted to point the water away from your property. Many Bulgarian builders neglect to add this vital piece of drainage equipment and failure to do so will result in water seeping into the walls and foundations of your house. This method is adequate, but not the best option. In addition, you must be certain that once the rain has exited the collar it does not pool in close vicinity to your house. It must drain away from the property in order to be effective.
Another solution to drainage issues is to build a French drain around your property. This is an in-ground trench that captures groundwater. This form of hidden piping can trap water before it enters your house. You can use the French drain to collect ground water and divert it to a low spot on the land, away from your house.
Building a French drain is relatively simple: dig a trench 15 - 30 cm wide and 15 - 30 cm deep around your house. Line the trench with 10 cm of washed gravel in the bottom of the trench. Then install a 10 cm perforated drain pipe on the bed of gravel. Cover the trench with another 10 cm layer of washed gravel. Place a 10 cm layer of straw on top of this layer of gravel. The straw protects the lower gravel and the drain pipe from being choked with silt or sediment from the soil. Finish the trench by filling it with washed gravel to within 2.5 cm of the top and then cover with soil.
French trenches need not be confined to the area around your house. They can be used to drain water from your garden or drive too.
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Choosing the Perfect Building Plot in Bulgaria
Not everyone is ready to take on a renovation project, but if money is tight, then you may decide to consider buying a plot of land and building your Bulgarian dream house. With plots of regulated land costing as little as 10 to 20 Euros a sq m in some areas, then you may find this is the best way forward. Initially, you may decide to just buy the land and wait until finances permit you to start building. This is a safe way to ensure that you don’t overstretch yourself, but can still capitalize on the growing Bulgarian real estate market. There are several things you need to consider when buying a plot of land in Bulgaria. InvestConsult Ltd offers some practical help to assist you in your Bulgarian land purchase.
The first thing to consider is finding the ideal plot for your needs, but before you start setting up a viewing trip, you need to do a little research. Consider first the location you want to buy in. Are you looking for sea views, flat open plains or a mountain landscape? Is the plot purely for investment purposes or a place where you intend to build a home for yourself? Do you want to be close to other people or are you looking for a remote retreat? The location of your land will have an impact on the price; the highest land prices are on the coast but if you move 10-20 km to the inland you will find significantly cheaper prices..
Ready to Build
Once you have decided on a location you need to look for regulated land as this means that the plot is suitable for building. It is possible to turn agricultural land into regulated land in some areas but this is something you need to research well before committing to buy. The process of regulating land will cost you time- it takes smething form one up to several years - and of course money. Regulated plots are usually close to mains electricity and water, but this is an aspect that you need to check. The further the distance to the source of these utilities, the greater the cost when you come to build. An isolated plot may offer privacy, tranquility and rural idyll, but you schould think also about the the security of the home which will be impossible if your home is outside of a village.
Proximity to Local Amenities
If you are planning to build a home for your permanent use, then your lands proximity to schools, doctors, the post office and shops is important. If you are intending using your home for holidays, then short drive to the the supermarket through the countryside is fine. Our advise is to look for a plot of land in a village close to a big city in Bulgaria - like Bourgas for example. There are many villages in 20km radius from Bourgas. If you build your home in Bulgaria in such location you will have access to all local amenities of the big city but enjoy the rural life.
If your plot is not located on a street or main road, then you need to check access rights. You may even need to construct a road to your plot and this could prove expensive. If your site is not easy to access, then it will also prove difficult to get materials there once building work commences. If large cement trucks cannot get onto the site then building work will grind to a halt and expenses will rise as you seek alternative methods of delivery.
Before you commit any money to buying your land, you need to check the boundaries in detail. The local municipality will have maps of each plot and will be able to tell you exactly what you will own. There have been many incidents of people being shown a plan of a plot of land only to find that when they own it, it is not the size they originally thought. We can arrange for you surveyors to mark out the plot in question so that you know exactly what you are buying. This will be money well spent. The surveyors will mark the boundary of the plot, once they have taken the necessary readings enabling them to calculate this. Do not assume that existing posts mark out the current boundary before you buy. These are often misleading and boundaries are subject to change as multiple owners carve up large plots.
The Lie of the Land
Sloping plots are much cheaper, but may be difficult to build on and this will add to your costs (but the landscaping of your garden will be unique and beautiful). Furthermore, the type of soil on your potential plot may also affect the cost of your build too. An incline may add a feature to your garden allowing you to add a variety of levels or an infinity pool or permit you to have unobstructed views of the countryside. However you need to determine where you can actually build and you should bear in mind that you will not be able to build closer than three metres to the boundary. This is shown on a plan detailing what is permissible in a local area as well as the size and number of storeys available. Once you are armed with this information, you can stake out the size and position of your home and see if it meets with your needs - in most cases a two storey house is permittet to be build in the villages. This is high enough in 99% of the cases.
Your plot will need to be big enough to include a septic tank. Bulgarian villages do not have common drainage systems and a large underground room has to be built as a septic tank. You will also need another smaller underground room for your water connection and meter. Consider also the location of natural water nearby. Whilst a spring or brook makes an attractive feature, they can prove to be hazardous if they burst their banks and cause extensive flooding. If you are considering building a swimming pool the plot schould be large enough for this too.
The secret to buying the perfect plot is not to rush to pay a deposit, but to research in detail how it best suits your needs and what exactly you are buying. Don’t be pressurized by over-enthusiastic agents who tell you the plot will not be available for long. Remember, should you lose this plot there will always be others.
We can help you finding the perfect building plot in Bulgaria and build your house in Bulgaria. Please don’t hesitate to contact us. We would love to help you!
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