The foundations, feature columns and developer of a two-storey home overlooking Woden are made of granite.
Sotiria Liangis has spent about seven years building the O'Malley mansion and says it will stand for 300 years.
Trying to prise open the steel double doors for a look inside is impossible. But the wily Greek who has rejected invitations for years to speak to The Canberra Times has given a glimpse into her life.
For years she needed only four hours of sleep while building the family's fortune in property - until that one night in late 2007.
Multinational General Electric had offered her $81 million for her core portfolio - Capitol Theatre in Manuka, Kingston Plaza and other prominent commercial buildings. ''We had sad times when we lost Angelo [her husband, who died in 2005],'' Mrs Liangis said. ''They approached me and I said, 'Never.'
''So I was thinking [this night] and saying to myself, 'What would Angelo have done?' Ah, no doubt he would have sold.''
Her mind wandered to Narrabundah, from where she walked more than 40 years earlier, eight-and-a-half months pregnant with her son John, to work at a Manuka fruit shop. Again she considered GE's offer, and the $800,000 and $900,000 prices people were getting for their Narrabundah homes - property prices that she did not think could last. The global financial crisis was beginning, but not before the daughter of a Greek shepherd sold her properties and banked GE's money.
''They were my babies,'' she said. ''I had built them all. I had the files, the leases. We did the deal very quickly. Even though we had money in the bank coming out our ears, I felt absolutely lost. We had properties left over. But the ones that had gone, I felt so lost it was unbelievable.''
Two weeks later GE refused her plea to buy them back. But in early 2010, belted and bruised from the global financial crisis, GE was back trying to offload them.
A sticking point during the five days to complete the deal was Greater Union Theatre's tenancy of the Capitol Theatre. After pushing for more detail, Mrs Liangis discovered the theatre was vacating.
''That helped me to really drop the price again,'' she said.
She paid a price so low she was able to renegotiate with Greater Union, signing them to a seven-year lease, after taking back her jewel.
A brighter jewel given the greater activity on a block of land, the more the return to its owner, which makes her smile.
''After we purchased, the National Capital Authority allowed Canberra Avenue corridor building to go to six and seven storeys high. How good was that?'' She will not reveal the price she paid.
Painting her home, beating down contractors' prices and shovelling dirt are all part of her relentless unconventional quest to have something to look back on and admire.
''It has nothing to do with greed,'' Mrs Liangis said. ''To look back at what we did and say, 'How good was that?' That's what it is about.''
Builder Ian Leith, who worked alongside Angelo Liangis for 15 years, recalls her as a tough lady with blonde hair and blue eyes, always picking up the tools. She would make them straighten three-inch nails to use again.
''We worked back at night. She would muck in with the boys, but was
She would make them straighten three-inch nails to use again.
''We worked back at night. She would muck in with the boys, but was accident-prone and got in the way,'' he said. Mr Leith said some men resented her in their domain, which she overcame with fearlessness and wit. ''She was good to me, she gave me building material for my farm.''
The family of her father, Athanasios Priftis, trace their origins to the 1700s and have uncovered at least 800 members in the historic Attica region of Greece.
''In our neighbourhood my house is still there, all that street, my grandfather's house, and on the left and right he [her father's father] had all his six boys. That street belongs to the Priftis family.''
Among them are five women called Sotiria and five Georges, including her older brother, who taught her to walk quickly, with purpose, and was a mentor.
The family's wealth did not follow her to Canberra when she married a poor cobbler.
''When you marry in Greece, you have gone,'' Mrs Liangis said. ''Simple as that. My mother, she was a very wise mother. They wanted me to stay in Greece.''
Joanne Priftis had said to her: ''You marry, I am your neighbour. And don't ever come back here to complain about what kind of life you have, that you don't have money or you are working hard.''
She and Angelo rented a storeroom in Manuka. Her fruit shop wage of £8 and his £18 from the shoe shop were saved except £3 to £5 for rent, £2 for food.
Tears stain her face as she recalls the landlord's handout of chicken stock, left over from chopped up chickens for sandwiches for his coffee lounge.
''I was happy and I would clean up the backyard, wash the dishes and they were giving me the stock,'' she said, before a long silence. ''And where I come from the most beautiful soup you could possibly have.
''So they used to give me the stock and twice a week we had to have that soup so we can save our money to somehow start our own business. And we did. A year-and-a-half later we started our business.''
Today's Woden, Weston Creek and Tuggeranong commuters heading up Hindmarsh Drive past O'Malley cannot miss the monolithic Liangis home. Thirty one-tonne Corinthian capital columns made of granite, quarried and polished in China, frame the place. Two three-tonne lions, also from China, look north-west over Lovett Tower into the Brindabella Mountains.
Canberra architect Terry Ring designed the outline. John Liangis filled in actual building details, including replacing the creased faces of the lions with more sedate expressions, tapering the column tops and overseeing complex joins for hand-carved adornments.
With outstretched arms, Mrs Liangis describes her home as one with open wings like an Australian outback verandah. That feature and 375-millimetres-thick cavity walls, which are insulated and lined inside with plaster moulds from Perth, cool the home. Sixty oleanders in pink and white blooms at the rear and a photinia hedge that hides a steel fence at the front surround a sweep of clipped lawns, concrete driveway and huge pots. Each of the six bedrooms has a bathroom. Ground-level ceilings are 4.5 metres high. Stairs framed with thick steel plate handrailing wind to the second level where ceilings are 3.5 metres.
Marble and 18mm oak cover the floors. A ballroom, drawing room, kitchen and lift room sit quietly behind glass thickened to keep out traffic noise.
Water collects underground in a 90,000 litre tank. Ten cars can park under the house.
Preparing meals, Joanne Prifitis would advise Sotiria to give the first plate to their worker and the balance to the family, a tradition her daughter maintains today. Within reason.
''You are fair to me, I am fair to you,'' Mrs Liangis said. ''You are a bastard to me, I am a bastard to you. That's only fair, isn't it?''
Years ago, while sinking piers for the Kippax centre after three weeks of rain, she arrived on site after dropping John off at school to find three trucks waiting for idle concreters. ''Four men were doing nothing and I went off my brain. I went absolutely off my brain. I said: 'You! Out!''' An aggressive labourer at the end of her pointed finger threatened to hit her, but backed off and left without his job.
Mrs Liangis does not attend auctions. Her agents bid anonymously, regardless of other bids, until Liangis Investments, which has given $6 million to charities in recent years, secures the offering.
When nine hectares of land at Narrabundah golf range came onto the market, Mrs Liangis summoned her agent.
''You will not talk to anybody. You are going to get there and you are going to keep your hand up until we buy it,'' she told him.
The selling agent later phoned her. Was she the winning bidder?
''Auction? What auction?'' she had replied.
Tall poplars and pines surround the land.
Under a snake-infested snarl of weeds, contractors found abundant black top soil ideal for laying a new grassy surface and plenty of clay to line a dam.
''How good was that?'' she said.
She refused to spend $6000 to mulch the cleared dirt.
When the sprinklers were installed and seed spread, she was the last to leave.
''I was sitting back and watching. A fine wind rustled through the poplar leaves,'' she said.
''Within half an hour the place was covered with all the poplar leaves. I said this is a miracle. This is my mulch, my $6000 saving.
''How good was that?''