Successful restoration in Italy depends on many factors but is likely to bring the best return on your investment when you carefully execute a plan preserving original features and introducing modern facilities. All this providing you buy the right property at the right price.
Tastefully restored properties to high standards are always in demand both by Italian and foreign buyers, however there are some key factors that you should be aware of and which you should take into account before you begin restoration work.
The planning permissions in Italy are granted by the local commune (council) and what kind of permission you apply for will depend on the kind of work you intend to carry out.
If the planned restoration activities will have minor impact on the structure of the property i.e. fit new doors and windows, perhaps a heating system, you need to start a procedure called DIA (Denuncia di Inizio Attività). DIA is free of charge and the process begins by you submitting at least 20 days before the intended work begins a plan to the Commune drawn up by a Geometra, or architect or engineer to prove that the work will conform with all building regulations. The Commune will then carry out checks and if no irregularities are found within the 20-day period, you can begin the restoration works. At the end of the works the project manager must present the "certificato di collaudo", a certificate proving that the result of the carried work is compliant with structure, security, hygiene, anti-seismic, etc rules.
If, however you are planning major renovation work to the property, you will need planning permission from a special department of the commune, the Commissione Ediliza. There are three main categories of restoration work that will require this:
Again, plans will have to be drawn up well in advance of work commencing – around two months - and taxes of about 5% of the cost of the work will be levied.
Unless you are really sure you know what you are doing, it is advisable that you always hire a professional to supervise your restoration project and deal with builders directly. Yes, this will not come cheap but is well worth the investment. Let the professional project manager supervise the restoration work and make sure everything is up to standard. That way if something is wrong, you will need to deal with only one person.
You should always make sure that you get detailed, written estimates from builders for all the planned work. And while these will most certainly be prepared in Italian and will not be binding, it is important and helpful to keep such estimates as most professional craftsmen will carry out such estimates in great detail and in good faith.
Also make sure builders' estimates contain a cost for removal of debris and rubbish resulting from their work. If not, you may well have to pay an extortionate fee later.
If your restoration project is managed – which is by far the best idea – then a translation of these costs should be easily arranged.
It is also a good idea to agree at the start a fixed rate either per hour or per job before any work not in the original quote is carried out.
When hiring the builders for your renovation project, it is always a good idea to insist on being shown some finished properties the builder has previously worked on. Any reputable and highly sought-after builder will be only too pleased to show you and he will have a good selection of previous clients who are delighted to let you see.
Once you have found the right builder for the job, make sure you draw up a contract with them for the intended work. The contract should detail all costs, the date the work will start, how long it will take and the payment schedule. Make sure there is a clause to cover compensation should the work exceed the timetable in the contract.
You should also make sure that the builder you contracted is adequately insured and is professionally registered. It is definitely worth taking out your own insurance on the property before work starts. The agent managing your restoration project should be able to arrange insurance.
Agree on what will be paid for in cash in advance. This practice is common and almost expected in Italy and it is done to avoid purchase tax of 10% on work on old buildings, and 20% on materials. The important point though is to make sure that for all items, especially those that may need servicing and will be under warranty (like central heating), that you get a receipt for all work done, however you pay.
For example, if all plastering work costs €25,000 and you pay €20,000 of that in cash, ensure your receipt for the balance of €5,000 states that it is for all plastering work, in case you need to go back to the builder for remedial work.
Some areas do tend to run dry on occasion during the summer months,
can lead to big financial losses if you are renting the property out.
Ensuring you have your own
deep borehole will avoid this.
A biologica (septic tank) is common and not especially expensive to install, but is best sunk into the ground before other work proceeds. A lot of disruption may be caused if you find your biologica is missing or is inadequate after all other work is complete.
Most building work in Italy is nowadays carried out to a high standard and within the estimates quoted. But always allow for some leeway and check the estimates carefully to see if economies can be made should you need them.
As you will be paying for the work in stages, it is important to make sure you budget for and set aside some dates to visit your property and inspect progress. Let your project manager and the contractors be aware that you will be coming along to inspect progress before money is handed over. You can also ask your project manager to email you regular progress work updates with photos via email.
If it is at all possible, never allow any original feature of your property to be ripped out if it can be preserved and restored. And, if it has to be removed, try to make use of it elsewhere.
Thank you for visiting our guide… we look forward to welcoming you to Liguria and hope you will love it as much as we do !
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