February 2011

We finally get back into our original apartment this month! Like many people we watch fascinated as events unfold in the Middle East and North Africa. We think back to 1989 in Central Europe and wonder if the changes will be as productive and successful as then.
In the middle of the month, we learn that the DUP has been returned to the Municipality from the consultants doing the revision, and will be sent to the Ministry for its (final?) approval. This is of course very disappointing, especially as we are told by a Montenegrin friend who has good contacts within the municipality, that it is very unlikely that the DUP will be passed by the Škupstina before the end of the summer, and most likely not before the end of 2011. We consult with Dušan about what is the best way to proceed – probably another meeting with Mrs Catović. We still do not know the coefficients we can use for the size of the building. Based on our plot area, we are allowed a specific percentage for the basic footprint (ie the area of the building on the ground) and another percentage for the total living space (ie all the floors). It makes a considerable difference if the footprint is 25% or 30% (95m2 or 114m2), and the overall living space 50% or 80% (190m2 or 304m2), not that we want a house of 304m2 anyway, but certainly more than 114m2. This lack means that we cannot begin to do any detailed planning, which would allow us to submit plans faster once the DUP is passed.
One effect of this delay is on our vines. In late January, we had pruned them back heavily with the plan of moving them this month to a temporary site on our neighbour’s land. When we started to dig out the roots, we found that – as anyone who really knew about vines would have told us – the roots go very deep. The concrete walls and other obstacles make it impossible to get a sensible amount of root clear just digging by hand. We decide to leave them where they are and will try to excavate them once the building work starts and we demolish ‘Le Beton’. We hope that they survive the pruning and produce fruit this year.
James writes the 2 page summary of his presentation for the Passivhaus Tagung. He feels very tempted to start the actual talk with ‘How do you build a Passive House in Montenegro … you wait … and wait … and wait!’