For real-life Flintstones, a cave is a must. Happily, there is no need for latter-day troglodytes to hunt for their dinner, Kevin Brass reports
Thousands of years after man emerged from the caves, he is returning to his roots.
Around the world cave homes are developing into a small but vibrant niche market, luring buyers interested in bedrock life - and something completely different.
"There is a uniqueness to cave houses that intrigues people," says Les Edwards, who sells such properties in Spain through his company, Spanish Inland Properties. "There is nothing uniform about any two cave homes."
Fred Flinstone-style abodes in all sizes and shapes; a simple hole to elaborately decorated stone residences with all the modern amenities.
In Cappadocia, Turkey, caves that are thousands of year old have been converted into second homes and, in some cases, boutique hotels.
"The prices of the houses increased a lot in the last decade, as they became very valuable and unique to Cappadocia in the world," says Ayse Guven, the co-owner of Belit International Consulting, which markets property in the area.
There are advantages to cave dwelling. The rocks keep the living areas cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
They are also economical. The land is usually inexpensive and the cost for building materials is a fraction of the wood, metal and concrete necessary for a conventional house.
"If you took an equivalent conventional house, you're probably saving 20 to 30 per cent," says Mr Edwards, who lives in a three-bedroom cave in Galera that he bought in 2007 for €110,000 (Dh522,592).
"They are cheap to buy, cheap to run," says Mr Edwards.
But there are challenges to cave dwelling. Humidity can be an issue. And depending on the rock, the walls may slowly deteriorate.
On the upside, Curt and Deborah Sleeper's home in Festus, Missouri is licensed as an official bomb shelter.
"The most significant thing about living in a cave to me has been the sheer size of our space," Mr Sleeper says.
They bought the cave, which had been used as a venue for rock concerts, in 2003 on eBay, where it had been listed at US$195,000 (Dh716,000).
"There is not a day that goes by that I do not appreciate and enjoy the rock walls and ceiling height throughout," Mr Sleeper says.
Location: Cortes de Baza
What you get: At first glance, the property appears to be a conventional Spanish village house. But the living area burrows into a hillside outside the village of Cortes de Baza, offering four cozy bedrooms and three bathrooms, with views of the surrounding valley. Modern amenities such as Internet and TV service and Jacuzzi bath tub are included. The property covers 3 hectares, and includes fruit trees, a pool and patio area Price: €123,950 euro (Dh588,000)
What you get: A two-bedroom home a few minutes drive from Granada, in a village famous for its cave homes. The property includes a patio where you can "sit and soak up the beautiful Spanish sunshine" before retreating into the cave, which includes a bathroom, living area and entrance hall.The price, which was recently cut by €11,500 also includes furniture and is move in ready, according to the listing.
Price: 49,950 euro (Dh237,000)
What you get: This cave has been converted into a 12-bedroom hotel in the heart of the Cappadocia district, which is famous for its cave homes. The design combines two properties that were used as residences until 1999. A cave serves as the reception area and six of the rooms are burrowed into the stone of the hillside. There is central heating . solar panels for heatig water and Jacuzzis in eight of the rooms.
Price: £2.3 million (Dh13.1m)
What you get: Another network of caves in Cappadocia that has been converted into a hotel. The ten guest rooms of the Hezen Hotel have been fully modernised with an array of non-cave-like amenities, including internet access, marble showers and central heating. Standard rooms rents for about $175 a night. The hotel sold last year after it was listed for 590,000 euro; the new owners declined to disclose the sale price.
Location: Festus, Missouri
What you get: The interior of the cave covers 930 sq metres and was once used as a concert venue for acts such as Ted Nugent and Bob Seger. The cave is fronted by a 465 sq metre living area which leads to three large chambers. Geothermal heating and solar panels help keep the cave cosy and energy efficient, while three natural groundwater springs that supply water and create small ponds inside the cave.
Price: $300,000 estimated (Dh1.1m)
What you get: This man-made cave extends 610 metres into a granite outcropping in Bisbee near Tucson. The living area includes only one bedroom and small loft, but covers 277 square metres and includes a state of the art commercial kitchen and a guest house. Rock paths lead around the 37 acres, which feature natural spring pools. Once listed for $3 million, the price has been slashed in half in the last year.
Price: $1.5 million (Dh5.5mn)