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Vamos Villas, Vamos, Apokoronas GR-73008, Chania

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Background: Having lived in Northwest Crete for 2 years and purchasing a plot of land 18 months ago we finally decided to build a family home. With architect help we designed our home and then sought quotes for the build from six construction firms. It took approx 3 months to get the quotes back, and in some cases builders were unhappy about us seeking quotes from others. For the same property quotes differed by a staggering 120,000 euros from the cheapest to the most expensive. Some quotes then had extras such as IKA, power line/poles, terracing, boiler room, roofterrace stairs, etc, to take the price up further. Stone build was in most cases an additional 2-300 euros per sqm - so out of the question for size and budget. In all cases, we visited homes built by the different companies to look at build and finish quality.

Vamos Villas was not the cheapest (though closer to it than some), but the agreed price per sqm was a good price. We were also pleased to learn that IKA for the workers was included in the price, as was the power connection (phase 2 which we upgraded to phase 3) and a couple of electricity poles if required, central heating, boiler room, double glazing, and all the normal kitchen, bathroom and bedroom stuff. We were then asked what material we would like the house constructed with - stone was ruled out because of our belief that it would cost more. We were stunned when told that the price per sqm was the same regardless - and that for builders there really isn't any difference at trade cost. We opted for stone!

The house is still being built and is on schedule to be completed mid 2008. The foundations are absolutely solid. The inspection process between builder and engineer is working well. The build site is kept tidy and in order.

Dealing directly with the builder (and owner of the company) has also proven very beneficial. A couple of days were spent visiting local officials to have the build permit/licence authorised by the local authorities, including the local police; planning office and mayor's office to arrange water connection to the land; OTE and electricity connections, and IKA office to open the builders account. All with the builder using his experience of the system to help us get the necessary stamps and signatures. This whole process is often done behind the scenes without the client knowing what takes place - in our case I think it gives us the confidence that the correct/legal procedures are being adhered to.

We would recommend this company without reservation. They are honest and friendly in their approach, and the owners actually do build your house themselves and they do take pride in what they are building. No money has yet changed hands - no deposit or first stage payment - the company ethos is that you should at least be able to see what you're being asked to pay out for, before paying.

If you are looking to have a home built, then please do your homework, DON'T get sucked into the glossy brochures, fancy offices and part with your money at the first place you go to - shop around and visit several companies, consider getting your own architect/engineer, definitely get your own lawyer, and at least take a look at what this company is doing, you might like it.

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