Russell & Adele Smith
In July 2016, having bought our second property through Vignaverde, we began the restoration of the old farmhouse in the south west corner of Abruzzo. We had sold our first Italian property (again with Vignaverde), which had been our holiday home, as we were now permanent residents in this wonderful part of the world.
Our new home had not been lived in for seven years and required complete restoration but ‘it’s got potential’, we kept reminding ourselves. There was lots of work to do, particularly on the ground floor, the property had no gas or central heating, the wiring consisted of a few bits of wire twisted together and whilst we did have running water, it was always icy cold. Despite this, we had wonderful views, 30 minutes to the sea, plenty of land and a large barn and the local wine was €2.60 for a litre and a half, who could ask for anything more.
Angela, Pino and the rest of the team soon got the wheels in motion with designs, planning permission and sourcing contractors and obtaining quotes for the work ahead. It wasn’t long before Sandro, the main contractor, was appointed. Angela and Pino had visited his home and other properties that his firm had restored and obtained recommendations to ensure that his work was of the highest standard.
Sandro assured us that the work would be completed in twelve weeks, they actually finished in eleven weeks and one day and finished on budget.
They started at around 7am every day, some weeks working six or even seven days a week. At one point, the whole of the ground floor was completely gutted, there were no windows, doors, floors, electrics, no plaster on the walls or ceilings, I just had to keep reminding myself that things were going to get better.
During this time, Pino ran the project very well, you do need professional contract management, especially in Italy where the rules and regulations are very different. He attended site at least once a week to ensure that everything was going to plan and to discuss any changes that we wanted to make. Also, Angela spent hours helping us plan and choose our flooring, kitchen, bathroom and the new double glazing and ensured that all the required stage payments and other expenses were properly made and accounted for.
Eventually our new home started to come together, through the great efforts of everyone involved, including Sandro and his team, Ennio the plumber, the flooring contractors (who couldn’t sing in tune) and the ground workers who sorted out the spring at the back of the house, which turned out to be an old water pipe that had been cut in half many years ago and the double glazing team who fitted our new windows in record time.
We have ended up with our dream home and one that we are certainly very proud of, thanks to everyone who worked so hard, even in the rain and at times snow.
If however you are considering undertaking a project, please bear in mind a just few simple things and you will have a wonderful time and end up with a great home.
1. Use only certificated Italian Estate Agents like Vignaverde.
2. Engage the professional services of people like Pino (A geometra).
3. Remember that because you are using a professional services, Pino and in particular Angela, are always there, even after the project is completed, to give help and advice.
4. Buy a good alarm clock, because the Italian builders will turn up very early in the morning!!!
Thanks very much to everyone who contributed to our wonderful home and if you are thinking of doing this, be brave, you will have a great time and get exactly what you want, with the help of the team at Vignaverde.