We first came to The Gambia at the turn of the millennium and have returned every year since. We, as have many others, fell in love with the country mainly because of the people who, whilst not having a lot of money, still have a warm, friendly personality. It’s not called “the smiley coast” of Africa for nothing.
We always dreamed of a property by the sea and were very fortunate to come across a plot of land right on the sea front. We wanted to build a lovely house by the sea with a unique design so we used a building plan from Gambia that we liked, took the design back to England and asked an architect to use the plan as a guild and create a new blue print. This was taken back to The Gambia and employed a local builder called Ebrima Darbor to build the shell.
Unfortunately, in The Gambia, the plumbing, electrical appliances and so on are of poor quality imported from China so we imported all the materials from England; even the roof. This has consisted of four 20ft containers and one 40ft container but we are pleased to say that it has been worth all the effort to provide a building that meets British standards.
As my trade in England is a plumber, I installed all the plumbing to the building. The en-suites have been fitted out with Ideal Standard sanitary ware with walk-in Mira showers. The hot water is being produced by solar panels that serve two 300 ltr un-vented Megaflo cylinders. Cold water comes from a 30M bore hole stored in a 3000ltr underground storage tank which is then pumped from the storage tank by Grundfos booster pump to an accumulator. The gardens are irrigated by an automated Hunter XC Hybrid Controller with eight Hunter zone valves which feed 28 Hunter pop up sprinklers heads and one zone that feeds 100M of drip pipe. It takes 5000ltr a day to irrigate the land. This allows the water in the storage to be turned over at least one and a half times a day, keeping the water fresh.
Gambia runs off 240 volts which helped with the supply of electrical appliances, The Electric Centre supplied all our electrical requirements from cable to a three phase consumer board and we contracted a local electrician called Pap – forever now known as Sparky - to carry out the installation. The power in Gambia is very irregular so we sent out an FG Wilson 30KVA diesel generator with an automatic change over switch.
We were also very fortunate to find an excellent roofer called “Pap the roof man” and sent Marley tiles with timber supplied and loaded by Travis Perkins. We used Therm ‘X- reflective breathable membrane that has made a huge difference in making the building cool.
We have used 12 x Daikin air conditioning units supplied by the Climate Centre which we have found to be very powerful and reliable. We used Ben Camera to install them.
We could not find fire doors in Gambia so we supplied Walnut fire doors with hard wood door frames made to measure by G Stone carpentry. Each door has 3 x grade 13 hinges and a Yale lock.
900 square meters of Turkish Caria white premium marble tiles throughout supplied by a Mr Aksu who imported them from Turkey. Lafi came across him and recommended that we take a look as the reserves were being sold off cheaply, as they were the left over from the five star Coco Ocean resort and so I took the first flight out to Gambia and managed to do a deal. We used the same tile man to lay them and now the floors are looking amazing; being polished daily by the buffing machine that we sent over.
We have now finished which has turned out to be a bigger project than we first anticipated; with seven large en-suite bedrooms, bar, dining room, office and a large swimming pool, we never thought we would open as a hotel but sometimes things turn out differently than you first imagined and now Ocean Villa Heights has been born for everybody to enjoy.