Posted by: viewfromtheriva | January 13, 2010

Stone house hunting in Croatia

It’s hard to live here and not dream of owning an ancient stone house overlooking the sea in some dreamy village.  Croatia is full of such places so it’s very tempting to take some time off to poke around and see wha’s available.

The roads from the seashore leading up into the hills, with the craggy Biokovo range looming overhead, can go up as many as 3-4 kilometers.  But the views are stupendous and the terraced groves of olive trees, the freshness of the air, the stillness so immediate, but at the same time  you know that at the bottom of the hill is civilization and Split is only 30 minutes away.

What deters most people from getting more involved with old stone house restoration is that too often the price of four stone walls and maybe a roof, no electricity, no plumbing is north of 50,000Euro.   Add another 50,000E and you’ve got something.  But unless you are here watching it all come together, re-building a stone house can be daunting.

It’s not that it’s so hard or even that costly– it’s just that you need to understand that the interior and exterior dimensions—if you’re lucky, maybe 30 sq. meters on each floor, really can’t be expanded.

Americans used to living in 2,000 sq. ft. homes need to adjust to a three floor semi square structure that maybe 900-1000 sq. ft.

And then there is the ownership issue.  Many stone house villages are semi-abandoned and the houses are owned by people who long ago left Croatia or by so many family members that getting “clean” papers can be a nightmare…and a considerable legal expense to set right.  Then there may be all sorts of building restrictions of what you can and cannot do.

There are a lot of old, sleepy villages tucked up in the hills between Split and Makarska and the more you take the time to explore them the more you realize how many of these stone houses will probably never be restored–but for those with genuine interest, it’s possible to find your fancy.

We’ve come pretty close to making an offer on a friend of a friend’s place, but we’re asking someone local with restoration expertise to check it out just to make sure what we see and love can actually be restored and not knocked down because the foundation is weak or the walls are so out of plumb that fixing them just isn’t worth it.

If we take the plunge, you’ll be the first to know…meanwhile here are some photos we took to show you why we’re so excited.

Enjoy our new Croatian vacation portal

Read more about Croatia at secret dalmatia’s unique blog

It’s views like this from your front window that make restoring a ruin worth thinking about!  (and this IS the view from “our” ruin!)

Just a few minutes walk from our ruin is this ancient alley.  The family restoring it saw us, invited us in to see what they were doing, shared some great home brewed walnut liquer  and told us they’d be thrilled to help us if we decide to buy.

Who wouldn’t want neighbors like this?!



  1. What an exciting experience! And the view is amazing! I will keep my fingers crossed for you. Hoping for “clean” papers etc…

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