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Advice

Do you live in a healthy home?

We spoke to Jordi Martorell, manager of Geo-Tec, a geobiologist, and expert in natural and artificial radiation. He explained that he discovered Geobiology because of a personal experience: “An electric transformer right next to my office and sleeping on top of an underground watercourse caused my health to deteriorate drastically. Fatigue, electrosensitivity, dietary sensitivity… were just some of the symptoms caused by the radiation” explained Jordi.

We also spoke to Pilar Piña, Architect and Geobiologist and head of the company EspacioSano.net, who assured us that: “Inhabiting a healthy space, just like a balanced diet, good habits, genetics… is crucial to enjoy good health, balance, and well-being.

We discuss in more depth Geobiology and Martorell and Piña’s work.

W: What does a Geobiologist do?

Pilar Piña: Geobiology is an interdisciplinary science that studies the relationship between “Gaia” – earth – (the energies coming from the earth) and “bios” – life – (the living beings that inhabit it).

I mean, geobiology is the study of the relationship that exists between the qualities of living space and the health of the people that inhabit or frequent this space.

We began working in the field of radiation: some kinds are natural, generated by the earth, and others are artificial, man-made, and can be high or low frequency. As Geobiologists we try to detect, locate and measure them, and consider the influence they have on people. We focus particularly on the areas where people spend lots of time, for example, where people sleep, rest, or work. We analyse both homes and offices.

Jordi Martorell: In the case of offices, we should point out that we work with the Wellness Building Standard certificates; a framework that values a diverse range of aspects that affect the health of workers, ensuring that they are healthy in the workplace.

How do you work, and what procedures do you follow?

PP: First, we give a presentation to the client explaining all the concepts that we will measure in the home, as well as the effect these can have on their health and possible solutions. It’s important to stress that there are solutions for almost everything.

JM: Using our measuring instruments, we assess the electric, magnetic and electromagnetic high-frequency contamination that we might find, as well as the radon gas pollution in basements and ground floors.

JM: Then, by means of dowsing we look for underground watercourses, which just like artificial radiation, can be very detrimental to one’s health.

If we are carrying out a study in an office, we also measure the ambient electrostatic charge. Being exposed for long periods of time to a level of electromagnetic pollution can cause serious health problems like semicircular lipoatrophy. Many of the buildings categorised as ill have these kinds of problems.

The fact that most of these buildings have artificial as opposed to natural ventilation, is also significant.  They don’t have windows and this creates closed, airtight spaces, which increases the concentration of positive ions (more damaging to health). Often this charge generates more stress than the work itself.

Are there any factors that can weaken and minimise this charge?

JM: Yes, the choice of shoes can diminish the concentration of ions, as most have plastic soles the accumulation of electricity remains in our bodies.

PP: Even the clothes we wear, if we use synthetic fabrics, can also make things worse for us.  All the electromagnetic contamination you have acquired by touching a computer, a tablet… It remains in you manifesting itself as nervous stress and in the long run, can influence more severe health problems.

What symptoms might make us think that our home is not healthy?

JM: Among the most common symptoms indicating that we are being affected by geopathic zones are nervousness, irritability, difficulty sleeping, insomnia… Tiredness, headaches, migraines, and even infertility, as radiation can affect endocrine and nervous systems.

How can we be sure ours is a healthy home?

PP: Firstly, by carrying out a geobiological study, and ensuring that the values obtained are within the limits recommended by experts.

JM: Some of the areas we study are the lighting, and the water quality, we check that the spaces are free of radiation and are comfortable… that there are no toxic materials present in the home, we also check the soundproofing and the air quality.

Which countries are leaders in the field of healthy homes? What level of knowledge is there in Spain?

JM: As a country of reference we should look to Switzerland, where the legislation is more demanding and takes into consideration the criteria we have mentioned. They even have “white zones” Communities free of radiation for people suffering from different forms of electrosensitivity.

In our country, there isn’t much knowledge regarding this field and the legislation is not at all demanding. In fact, as an example, Spain and other countries, permit radiation from magnetic fields of up to 100,000 nanoteslas, when the scientific community has demonstrated that prolonged exposure to more than 300 nanoteslas is already damaging. And the state legislations are based on the short-term thermal effects, not on the long-term effects.

How do you see the future? Geobiology is reaching people little by little…

PP: We need to make people aware of the importance of the dangers involved with sleeping or working in places with high levels of electromagnetic radiation. Whenever we explain this, there is always someone who is affected by, or recognises some symptoms saying, “I don’t sleep well, I’m nervous, I have headaches…”. Many people see this reflected in themselves or know someone to who this is happening to. We need to raise public awareness of the importance of space beyond just what is visible.

We have measuring equipment to detect what we can feel, but not see. Some people are more sensitive, others less so, but everyone is affected by the space they inhabit.

JM: In ten or twenty years, the number of people with some kind of geo-pathogen will increase exponentially. We must start to set the foundations to guarantee that the public lives and work in healthy buildings. A healthy building means better health.

More information regarding Geotec www.geo-tec.es and about EspacioSano  www.espaciosano.net.

Categories
Advice Real Estate News

How to value a property: answers, advice and important information

How to be sure of the value of your home? Who can guarantee that the market value will be the same tomorrow morning? 

We can’t make do with a rough idea of the price, details, and potential of our homes. In the real estate sector’s golden age, property prices were inflated like balloons. Although it’s clear that no one can be sure of the price of a house (only an official valuation for a fixed duration), we can now sleep soundly because it seems that tomorrow the balloon will be just as large as it was yesterday.

Why do we need a valuation? Who can request one? And very importantly, who should we ask to do it?

What distinguishes a valuation from other types of appraisals [1] is its purpose. A property (home, commercial premises, building, estate) should be officially valued in the following situations:

  • Mortgage loan (official mortgage valuation)
  • Expropriation
  • Inheritance
  • Pecuniary liability in lawsuits
  • Separations and divorces
  • Evaluation of possible financial ruin.

A valuation can be requested by a proprietor or possible buyer, the bank which will provide the loan, the tax authorities, a judge or a notary public.

A property must be officially valued by a valuation company approved by the Bank of Spain. These are the only valid businesses, as they are regulated and supervised in order to provide transparency. The department of control signs off the valuation report. Valuation companies are businesses formed by technical valuators, namely architects, architectural technicians, industrial engineers, or agricultural engineers.

Now we have somewhat clarified the “why?”, there are other values to be considered in a valuation.  Values that can move up or down, cause and effect, “the balloon might be deflated by the morning” …

And what are the values to consider when valuing a house?

  • The market value: can be defined as the price that an independent buyer would be willing to pay in normal market conditions.
  • The replacement value: is the material value, what it would cost us to rebuild this property including the value of the land.
  • The insured value: is the value of a property established to determine the amount payable to the owner in case of an insurance claim.

What is the price and period of validity of a property valuation?

Valuation companies are free to establish their own prices depending on the size of the property. In the case of a “normal” home, the rate could vary between 100 and 500 euros.

A valuation expires after 6 months, making it very important to order one at the time when we are going to need it.

What does the valuator want to know about the property? 

There are always two areas of focus on a valuation: general and specific.

The general focus

What are we valuing?
It’s essential to have the property to be valued physically defined, and its geographical location identified by means of an exact address.
Are there any limitations of restrictions of use?
Here we are looking at the town planning situation, and elements that can have a significant impact on the value (land rating, coastal laws, green areas, cataloguing).
What is the extent of the property’s ownership?
Are there associated charges (mortgages, easements, usufructs, some kind of protection…) that limit the possibilities of physical or economic use of the property?
What is the state of the property’s occupancy?
It must be known if the property to be valued is occupied by the owner, or by another person or other legal entity, and in this case, under what terms.

 

The specific focus

Characteristics of the environment
Similarities and differences between the building and those in its surroundings, proximity to public facilities, infrastructure, etc.
Characteristics of the building in which the property is located
Age and general conservation, accessibility and condition of entrances, private garden areas, swimming pool, concierge, security, specialised communal rooms or other services, visible construction issues…  
Characteristics of the building that are valued
Area, number of rooms, bathrooms or toilets, location within the building, attached annexes, preservation of the various elements, orientation, brightness, energy efficiency, quality of finishes, appliances…).
Characteristics of the market segment
In which the property is found (supply and demand for similar houses, prices…).

 

All those golden years before the crisis, played too much at inflating and deflating the balloon, a practice that brought about the result of inflated valuations to increase profits at the time of the operation.

But how is the market today? Thanks to the errors committed in the past, this practice has been eradicated within the sector and now the simile of “the balloon” no longer exists; the sector changed and took various measures with respect to guaranteeing the independence of the valuation companies and thereby assuring a price “without air”.

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Barcelona Be ethical, live better Withfor

Children at risk, an “invisible problem” in Barcelona

We spoke to Juan Antonio Pons-Serés, the president of Proinfants, about the programme, about what’s happening in Barcelona that no one wants to see, and about how we can stop being indifferent and become a part of the solution.

What is Proinfants?

  • It’s an association legally constituted as an NGO; we’ve been working for 18 years collaborating with projects and programmes in Mumbai, Medellín, Dakar and Barcelona, that aim to rehabilitate socially excluded children. It’s a private entity formed by 160 families from Barcelona. It can currently support new projects thanks to businesses like Withfor, which have an ethical and social approach to dedicating part of their resources and profits to social projects.

How did the idea of this new emotional education project come about?

  • We have a great deal of experience outside Spain, we began in India with a project called “street children”, a problem that is paradoxically now being reported in Barcelona’s newspapers.

5 or 6 years ago we began to turn our attention to the local area. In Barcelona there are what are known as “invisible problems” or the 4th world, child-related problems that are seldom addressed because they are not wanted in the limelight, exposed for all to see.

Two years ago, Julie, Withfor’s founder, showed an interest in what we were doing in Barcelona and decided to collaborate in the creation and development of this new programme.

How does the programme work?

  • The programme takes place in the Horta district, in a centre that takes children from 7 to 14 years old with difficulties relating to nutrition, sanitation, education, lack of family support, lack of mentors, pre-addictions, activity deficit problems, dropping out of school, etc. The centre takes 120 socially excluded children and each case is handled with a preventative approach.
  • Group workshops and individual sessions are organised under the supervision of 10 practitioners and a psychologist to reach the root of the problems and offer general support for remedial education.
  • For the first time in Catalonia, family-related problems are being dealt with from a psychological viewpoint; adaptation (or failure to adapt), bullying, and violence inside or outside the family. The practitioners carry out the monitoring of each child, using one-on-one workshops in the most serious cases and those with the least integration. They interview the parents, and look for the roots of the psychological difficulties, always trying to work together with the families.

“Children never have problems; the problems are with their families”.

What problems do the practitioners and the psychologist encounter?

  • Absent parents; abandoned children being “looked after” by others, brothers, sisters or flatmates; children subjected to highly stressful situations; abuse. Sadly, this last year the number of violent situations has increased, and not just men against women, but also involving children themselves that end up being admitted to hospital following being beaten by their mother’s partner or older sibling. Not by the neighbour down the road, but by their own family. Several cases of extreme violence were not reported by the newspapers. It’s very difficult for a child to study in this environment.
  • The causes of all this are buried deep but they relate to the family; parents who don’t want their children or are unable to support them properly.

What kind of workshops do they run?

  • Educational support, fun activities, IT, and individual therapy sessions. The children spend the evening with the practitioners or the psychologist, and it is they who detect emotional or behavioural problems, or physical injuries and call the family to talk to them and establish or change some guidelines.

“A few weeks ago, one of the practitioners went to a child’s home, in the hills, at 11pm to find the child’s mother; but she was doing other things and the child was at home alone. No two cases are the same. But all are extremely complex”.

Why doesn’t anyone do anything if there are so many children in this situation?

  • Currently the public administration does not assign resources of any kind to these types of therapies as they are incapacitated with problems of pre-delinquency, delinquency and mental disorders. They aren’t looking for the causes.

The Government of Catalonia and local administration are concerned with the crimes, but not with the origins of these crimes. Placements in government centres, if there are already problems of drug addiction or violence, are attempts at correction that come too late. 

  • Individual treatments, which are those that really work to rehabilitate children, are very expensive for the public administration… And they don’t take notice because this is happening mainly in the poorer neighbourhoods of Barcelona where we don’t usually go: La Teixonera, Horta, Vall d’hebron…
  • Really, we’re not interested in criticising politicians or the media, we just want to make it known that the problem exists and that we can offer a solution. But for the time being, the public administration is not involved.

And are people or businesses helping?

  • There are groups within society that bother people, people know they are there but would rather ignore them. The MENAS (unaccompanied minors), for example, 70 children sleeping in the gardens of Montjuic, as you might expect to see in Mumbai or Medellín, or worse, because they end up excluded, in the streets, living in groups, and promptly called delinquents, thieves, but no one does anything to solve this problem.
  • There are tens of thousands of cases of children in exclusion, I’m not talking about hunger or poverty, I’m talking about problems relating to the family, lack of housing, and violence. It’s happening more than ever.

I work in the slums of Medellín and there’s not much difference in what happens there and what happens here. The difference is that there, there are a lot of volunteers involved and here there are few.

What progress or results has this new project in Horta achieved? 

  • We give children food when they arrive and we stimulate them so that they return. Because that is the key to the programme: continuity. When they come day after day, do you notice improvements in their behaviour?
  • The practitioners tell us of their evolution, cases of children who were being beaten at home and had dropped out of school, that have now returned to school and come to the centre every day.

As well as continuity, what would you say are the keys to the programme?

  • Integration, because we’re working with the context of their families and schools.  Support, because a child receives stability from a secure environment. And fundamentally, prevention, because it’s taking place at the time when change is possible, in childhood. On the other hand, there are children who end up in gangs, on the street, as addicts or delinquents. And the children say, “so young, 18 years old, and already picking pockets” THIS KID WAS NOT BORN PICKING POCKETS. You have to look at it from another perspective, at 6 years old he wasn’t picking pockets… Perhaps his parents were, and as a result of being put down, ignored and not having anyone who understood him, he began imitating their worst behaviour.

“But they were not born delinquents. They learned how to be delinquents, and they learned very well…”

  • It’s very difficult to reintegrate into society after having experienced the easiness of these “alternative ways”. It’s very difficult for them to look for work, or to study… Action is needed from childhood to break the chain.

What do you mean by “break the chain”?

  • When you have a successful case, you are breaking the chain and changing the path they choose to take. By educating a child, you are passing on values and saving the next generation. It’s a long-term investment. These rehabilitated children will have families, and perhaps they will even become teachers.
  • We’ve only been working here in Barcelona for 2 years, but in other countries where we’ve been for longer, we’ve seen how the chain can be broken. These children are now mothers and fathers that know what they want for their children, they know how to support their emotional development and give them a proper education.

“It’s an imperceptible value that it is enormously important. You break the cycle. You save a child and all the following generations”.

Are there any plans to expand this project to other neighbourhoods?

  • We’d like to do more but we don’t have the resources and there aren’t many businesses with a social conscience. They don’t realise that helping could be beneficial for them, for their business communication, for their employees, for society in general, and for their reputation as a business. There is very LITTLE CONSCIENCE. There´s a lot of profit-seeking and very little involvement with local social problems. And in this respect, I think that Withfor is really advanced and pioneering because it concerns itself with not only finding accommodation for the people on its payroll but also with resolving problems for people with no resources. There is a real shortage of businesses like Withfor, who are really involved in their surroundings.

Can people or businesses donate, participate or volunteer for these programmes?

  • The practitioners in our centres are qualified professionals, they’re social workers with university degrees. There are volunteers, but it’s very important that people who want to get involved, do so regularly, every evening from 5pm to 8pm. They need to have training, experience, and enthusiasm. Do they need to be prepared because the children attending are children with problems? It’s not just painting, drawing and ceramic workshops.  It requires an eye for detail to discover these children’s problems: why they’ve dropped out of school, or why they’ve failed everything (and there are brilliant children!) To become a volunteer on this project you need vocation, preparation and time.
  • As for businesses wanting to finance projects, they would be helping us change the lives of many children. We ask all such businesses to visit our website proinfants.org or our office in Paseo San Juan 95, and register as donors, partners or collaborating businesses. It may seem like a grain of sand, but between all of us, we can build an entire beach. 

Thank you to Juan, to Proinfants, and to the entire team that works day after day helping children. We are proud to be a part of this project that wants fewer children on the street, fewer hungry children, fewer children suffering from violence or abandonment, and more children in school. If you have a business, or simply find that this article has touched your heart, we implore you to help us to help them. Are you interested?