The Street family - David and Denise and their sons Sam, 17, and Jamie, 15 - first visited Turkey on a holiday in 2003. "We'd been to all the places like the Greek islands and Spain, but we'd never been to Turkey, and so we got an all-inclusive package to Olu Deniz. When we arrived, we were amazed at how beautiful it was. There was this incredible blue sea, the people were extremely friendly, and it was generally unspoilt."
David and Denise had been toying with the idea of buying a holiday house abroad that they could also rent out, and Turkey immediately clicked. "It struck me that this could be a place to buy," says David. "Back in 1981 we went to Paphos in Cyprus when it was just a small town, and when we went back later it was like a new world. We could see the potential for the same growth to happen in Turkey; we could really see the Mediterranean coast taking off."
Back at their home in Hertfordshire, the couple started to look on the internet, and quickly identified the former fishing village of Kalkan as an up and coming location. They contacted a number of agents, and the following July went out for a flying three-day visit, with a number of properties to view. It quickly became apparent, however, that there was an opportunity to buy a plot of land and get a house built entirely to their own specification.
There was plenty of land to choose from, but David says: "We were aware that you had to be very careful where you bought. You could have this fantastic view over the bay one day, and then someone could simply build in front of you. The plot we found was at Kalamar Bay, and as well as having uninterrupted sea views that couldn't be blocked, the land on one side was green belt, and there were wonderful views of the mountains and the Lycian Way. "We also had to think about the fact that the area was sure to be developed on our other side, but I felt that it would be high quality because of the local restrictions that were in place, and I could see a really nice little community emerging," says David.
The company selling the plot, Mavi Real Estate, was also offering to build the house, but unlike some other agents this was not mandatory.
David, an IT sales director, and Denise, a personal fitness trainer, had no previous experience of building a house, but undaunted, they decided to go ahead. An important confidence booster was finding a solicitor based in Turkey and the UK who was able to act as an intermediary for the land purchase. After their solicitor had taken particular care to check the title deeds. They were aware that land ownership in many countries can be a cause of contention - the Streets committed to buying the land, a 280 sq m plot which cost £35,000.
It felt risky, and David says they had to overcome their inbuilt wariness: "There is a very positive atmosphere in Kalkan, and it became clear to us that it was a genuine environment - we never came under firm pressure to pay bills, and it seems to be simply part of the culture there that you wouldn't dream of not paying."
And as Denise explains, they kept the risk to a minimum by taking it a step at a time: "We did the whole thing in two stages. There was a process to buy the land which involved getting permission from the government, and we didn't start to build until that was complete, which took about three months."
After looking at other builders, they decided to go with the Mavi team, not least because they had a proven track record of building in Kalkan, and inspired a feeling of trust. A local architect was brought in and David and Denise were sent lots of designs and ideas by email, from which they were able to narrow down the style of house they wanted. In August, Denise went back to Kalkan to sign off the plans in time for the building season, which runs from November to April, to avoid disrupting tourism.
Their house was to be a four bedroom, three bathroom villa with a private pool and terrace. During the build the Streets relied on photo updates every 10 to 14 days to keep abreast of progress; they were even able to choose fixtures such as doors by sending out their own pictures gleaned from the web. The only real hiccup came when it suddenly occurred to them that with the concrete balconies that had been installed, they wouldn't be able to see the sea lying in bed. Instructions were sent and the balconies were replaced.
Villa Manzara was finished the following June - just eight months after the work started. "We were amazed that it was done so quickly, but when they are building they work 15-16 hours a day," says David. The build had cost around £85,000, and the Streets estimate they spent around £135,000-140,000 all in, when extras such as furniture, appliances and fees are included.
David and Denise are delighted with the finished result; the stunning white four-storey house, has travertine marble terraces, and is decorated in a contemporary style, just a couple of minutes from the sea and five minutes drive from the centre of Kalkan. They are now letting Villa Manzara out to holidaymakers when they aren't using it themselves, and are convinced that it will prove a sound investment as Kalkan takes off.
"We love it there," says Denise, "as well as the village itself there's wonderful surrounding countryside, lots of places to visit in the mountains and great archaeological sites." The Streets are determined that any guests should have the best possible holiday at Villa Manzara. To this end, it was crucial that they found somebody local who could look after the property while they weren't there. Lycian Coast Homes Property Management (run by an English and Turkish team) act as their agent to both maintain the property at all times and ensure that this is achieved.
Since their house was built, three sets of friends have been to visit and have loved it so much they've decided to buy themselves. And with their sons growing up, David and Denise are hoping to be able to spend a lot more time at Villa Manzara themselves in the years to come.
Alexander Garrett is a freelance property writer who contributes regularly to The Observer and British Airways' Business Life.
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