So you think you would like to live in Italy

This is our story, warts an' all. We have come this far since May 2004 and survived the bureaucracy, a freezing cold winter, a landslip and a diminishing money pot. Share our experiences, believe me the good ones far outweigh the bad and if you want to ask a question and we know the answer, we'll tell it like it is.

I found this little phrase in a Collins Italian Phrase Book published in 1963 ~ "passa ogni limite" pahs'sah ohn'yee lee'mee-tay which means: That's the giddy limit. Useful if there's anybody out there that quaint!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Catch-Up September - December

The church house, so named because the builders think that the house needs only a cross mounted to the main roof above the oval window and they say churchgoers would beat a path to the door. How very droll! In England, most people love the idea of buying an old chapel to convert but when the specifications for a new build have been drawn to our design (without any religious characteristics in mind) and the building is nicknamed La Casa Chiesa, it takes on a comical slant, which seems to delight the builders. I have to admit that whilst standing in the body of the building with the sun streaming down on me through the oval window I wondered just for a second if this was a heavenly sign, a calling. Perhaps it has always been our fate to come to this place and erect this building here, a place of worship, and you know, it used to be a stable! Is this what they call 'seeing the light'? And then, blinking up into the glare waiting for that finite moment of truth, somebody dropped a scaffold pole and a cry of "Attenzione" echoed around the hollow building. If it wasn't the call I was expecting it was the one I was meant to hear. A resounding great CLANK brought me out of my reverie and I scuttled off. I was sure I heard just a faint snickering from the builders direction!

Amazing progress has been made since September 2008 but then we've had two amazing teams of builders. They're a hungry lot though and they've eaten their wedge of the budget before Christmas. We have to continue under our own steam now (I can feel the callouses on my hands already) and it's anybody's guess whether we can finish in time for next summer. All the windows, doors and mosquito nets (integrated) have been fitted to all buildings and we are just waiting for the shutters to arrive. There is no such thing as a standard size window or door here so everything is made-to-measure at enormous expense, the craftsmanship is generally good though.

It's one of the most important costs to consider when renovating an old building so always make sure that it's one of the first estimates you obtain after the construction costs. Cost of windows and doors, mosquito nets and shutters as follows:

2 x double windows with segmented arches above in pine (no mosquito net) 2,532 euros
2 x oval windows in pine 1,487 euros
1 x double window satin glazed in pine with mosquito net
516 euros
1 x double door half glazed in pine (no mosquito net)
with Yale lock 1,096 euros
1 x single door half glazed (as above) in pine with Yale lock 838 euros
1 x double shutter louvred, alluminium to look like pine 550 euros
Grand total for all windows, doors, mosquito nets and shutters for all three buildings 45,600 euros which includes fitting.

This goes a long way to explaining why there are so many properties for sale here which have been restructured to what's known as 'builders finish' which means sold without bathrooms, kitchen, windows, doors, flooring, decoration, plumbing and electrics. So whilst the cost of the property may appear reasonable and it may be easy to visualise the final finish, a buyer will need to carefully consider the cost to complete. This is the scarey end of the budget and depending on the type of finish you want it could easily double your cost. The Italian builder knows this and whilst they tell you that it makes sense to leave the finishing to the clients discretion, more often than not the cost to finish it is prohibitive.

Both loggias, one to the main house and one to the church house are finished and now that the windows and doors have been fitted it's all beginning to take shape. I would have liked to have said shipshape but the area around the buildings (previously referred to as a garden) refutes any suggestion of that, it looks more like a dump site set on a morass.

It's perilously dangerous trying to negotiate a path to the wood store or the dog pen avoiding the mud and at present, the ice. Twice, so far I have lost my footing, on both occasions with the dogs who set about me with that boisterous fervour reserved for 'games'. Only one soggy ear and all bones intact so life is good!

Next month: progress indoors and the complicated workings of an Italian builders estimate.

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