Are There any Reliable
Geometras in Italy?
all stopped in December 2009 when the builder
promised to finish certain works by the beginning of December after the micro-piling had
completed. However, I am jumping the gun. Let's go back to square one,
when the micro-piling took place, and why.
Seismic Building Regulations in Italy
not-so-long-ago earthquake in L'Aquila
will give you an inkling that
Italy is a country that is in a seismic zone and experiences some
pretty rough earthquakes from time to time, including Tuscany where we
have our farm.
have very few
episodes of earthquakes by comparison to other regions such as Abruzzo
There is a reason
why real estate is so much cheaper in
these areas and why they are not as well-populated!
As a result we were told that we had to have the
foundations of our house strengthened by micro-piling the perimeter. We
were quoted € 35,000.00 gulped, and agreed. Well, they went to town.
Nothing like taking full advantage of your clients who are not on site
and live halfway around the world. Our micro-piling ended up costing
us double what was quoted. A bill was
presented and we were expected to cough up. There was no notification that they had
extended the drilling rates, and supposedly had, in some places, gone down 9 meters.
is what they said they did, of course, there is no way of verifying
that this was the case.
How Building is Done in Italy and the Geometra
one stage I would often pass the comment, "Rome wasn't built in a day,
but the way my Italian builders were working, I am surprised it was built at
So how does it all work in Italy when you want to
restore a farmhouse in Italy? Well you need to seek out a geometra and
a builder. Usually, the geometra (known in English as a quantity
surveyor) will suggest 3 builders, get quotes and then you
choice of who you want.
We should have seen the writing on the
wall, way back when we first started the restoration process. The
geometra was appointed by the real estate agent from Sansepolcro. The
agent was good, she spoke good English having lived in Australian for a
number of years, and we trusted her implicitly. When she suggested a
local geometra who had his offices outside of the town walls, and just
around the corner from where the agent was, we agreed. Big mistake.
geometra from Sansepolcro wore clothes that made him look as if he had
just stepped out of a Milan fashion house. He was well-heeled, wore
cashmere coats, and scarves and kept telling us that he was so pleased
to build our house and that he was the best man for the job. He was
meticulous in his presentations of plans, etc. and at once we felt
secure in knowing that he was indeed the best man for the job.
geometra was initially charming, but as it turned out, it was all part
of the game to over-charge, double charge and try and make as much
money out of us without actually doing anything. And while you are
reading this, you may be thinking that we are a young, naive couple,
that were greenhorns, think again. We are 50 something, have built 2
houses before this, and my husband is a Commercial Manager in construction, with a Bsc. degree in Quantity Surveying.
When you are sent all documentation in Italian,
and you are not given anything in English, it is very difficult to
understand what is being described as items and rates to be charged.
Despite frequent requests for translations to be given, none
forthcoming. We did, in all fairness get some help from the estate
agent, but she eventually left and went north to follow her husband who
had been transfered.
We put our faith in our geometra, but as
the months progressed we realized that we were making no progress on
the house, but still paying for services rendered. It was aways for
this paper had to be modified, this local authority had to be visited
etc. . Worst of all, he did not allow us to choose our builder, but he
appointed a very shifty character who came from a mountainous area,
north-east of where the farm was. He had sharp features, with close-set
eyes that never once met your gaze. I thought he was untrustworthy right from the start, and
in the end I was right.
This was our esteemed builder who was
brought on board to do the micro-piling. Once that was done, and we had
coughed up € 70, 000.00 to both the builder and the geometra, no
progress was made. We made a visit, to try and jump start the project,
and left after promises were made to start the next phase of works.
However, dates came and went, and still no progress was made. However,
there were no shortage of excuses for why the house had not progressed.
From, "It's Ferragosta", to, "It's winter now and
will be here anytime," to everything in between!
Firing an Italian Geometra
months later, we made the decision to fire the geometra and the
builder. It was the best decision we had made, but it was also going to
cost us dearly!
geometra from Sansepolcro held us to ransom for all files on the house
to the tune of €7,000 and the builder, due to an unfortunate oversight,
was not given notification that his services were no longer needed. So
when he swung buy a year later to see other builders working on the
house he sued us for €25,000 for lost earnings.
Due to the
extensive damamge to the house of services and stonework when he was on
site, and poor workmanship that had to be rebuilt, we managed to
get that down to €15,000 but it was a bitter pill to swallow.
Reliable builders and
Italy? Is there
such a thing? For some of you who
have had a house built in Italy, or done restoration work, the above
question may seem like a bit of a conundrum.
After a long story, we have just fired the second geometra. He was a pleasant
man from the valley, and with whom we are still on good terms. But he
just wasn't able to deliver a service we found acceptable. It
appears time here means nothing. It is elastic. Things get done when
they feel like it, get around to it, remember it...
All in all very frustrating, and the house is still unfinished. So the saga continues.
are many more dreamers like us out there, who take on restoration
projects in Italy. One such couple is Australian born Salvatore and
Lisa, with their two children who moved to Piedmont, Italy to renovate
a small village. Follow their dreams, aspirations, tears,
disappointments and victories on their delightful blog Renovating Italy
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