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Pissouri ‘The Edge of Heaven’

Popularised by Gordon Honeycombe in his book ‘The Edge of Heaven’, the Cyprus village of Pissouri has become a hot spot for those seeking a place in the sun. A long time resident advises prospective property buyers about the importance of seeking independent advice.

Construction problems in the Cyprus village Pissouri

Construction problems in Pissouri (click on image for larger view)

MOST of us who live in Pissouri regard it as a great place to live. But those of you who might be thinking of joining us need to be sure of the qualifications and reliability of your builder or developer because, although in theory the authorities ensure the safety of all building in Cyprus, this is not always achieved.

Anyone buying property in Pissouri must get an independent survey

In spite of warnings on the Internet for years, buyers often seem oblivious to dangers. Anyone buying needs an independent survey and, if it is a new-build, reliable independent supervision of the construction and a pre-delivery survey.

There is no proper national policy on planning; building practices are allowed in Cyprus that would not be allowed in the UK; and there are not the stringent building inspections that you would find in many other countries.

The architect is responsible for the work here in Cyprus and should be responsible for signing off each stage of the work. However, it seems that in many cases the architect/supervising engineer never even visits the site, he accepts the developer’s word and signs off any necessary paperwork. Since the developers give the architects the work, it is not in their best interests to upset their main source of income.

Pissouri has suffered several catastrophic building failures

There is nothing unique to Pissouri about this situation. But in Pissouri there have now been too many catastrophic building and construction failures; some of which are shown in the photographs above. There is considerable concern about the lack of any constraints on developers undermining properties above their own site – in one construction failure the buyer escaped with his life by seconds.

The serious risk of landslip in this area is compounded by extensive building on un-compacted infill. This is an earthquake and a landslip area: it is unlikely that you will be covered for such failures if you choose to build in an unsafe area or if your building does not meet required building specifications. The recent heavy rains have also exacerbated serious problems here and in other locations.

The very visible facts confirm all this, and this lack of effective planning controls or policy undoubtedly endangers lives. The situation is serious and the whole matter is being taken up by the Green Party.

Some property owners are threatened by developers if they complain

To make things worse, if property owners complain, they are sometimes threatened by the developer, ensuring that in many cases the story of building failures never becomes public knowledge. This has happened in Pissouri, and there are other well-documented cases on the internet.

And, of course, bad publicity makes it virtually impossible for anyone desperate to sell to do so, so there are different parties with vested interests who would like to keep this sort of information quiet.

The legal process can be dragged out for many years

And what about those for whom this advice is too late? The news is, again, bad. The process of taking on the powerful interests is virtually a no-win situation. The legal process, if you have the financial means to pursue it, can be dragged out for many years, literally until you are dead and gone.

The combination of bad publicity about building standards in Cyprus and the title deeds debacle must have done a great deal of damage to the vital building and construction industry. They have only themselves to blame for this.

Buy in Pissouri it’s a fabulous place to live; but

Yes, buy in Cyprus and buy in Pissouri, because it is a fabulous place to live. But get in-depth information about what you are letting yourself in for first. This, for a new-comer, is much more difficult than you would expect.

Getting genuinely independent advice is not that simple. My own advice remains that you should come to Pissouri and rent first while learning your way around. And, if you do buy, it may be safer to buy a re-sale with a known history and Title Deeds.


See Meeting the Mukhtar of Pissouri, published in November 2006 and Down the Slippery Slope, published in December 2007.

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