I haven't blogged about our houses in Italy for a while but then there is nothing to report and I always feel a bit of a spoilt brat ranting away when we are fortunate enough to have two properties there.
When we were in Lazio at the beginning of November we did set the wheels in motion to have various improvements carried out to the house after a three year corporate let and before we started the holiday rentals again. The local joiner came round to measure up for double glazed windows and our engineer came to talk about installing a new and eco friendly septic tank. We had a price from the joiner but when we pointed out that he'd missed off a set of shutters he requoted including the extra items and putting the total price up by 10%, we are still in negotiation. We've had a couple of emails from our engineer but no scheme, no price, niente. We also asked our neighbour if he and his wife would be happy to prepare the house for our first guests at Easter, we do pay them for this responsibility. That was three weeks ago, I've just sent another email as if we don't know soon we might have to fly out to do the dorissing ourselves.
And what about the trullo in Puglia. This was to be a project for us while our Lazio house was occupied but it took us 18 months to actually buy this ruin and another 18 months to get a price for its restoration. Its an existing structure though lacking water, sanitation or any windows that we want to turn into a small house with 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and an open area of kitchen, dining, living. We finally got the price late last year and it was almost 400,000 euros, no landscaping works, no swimming pool, no work to the little building in the garden that we might one day turn into a guest house, just the basic house conversion. When we discussed the scheme initially with our architect he suggested a price around 70,000 euros, so we assumed around 150,000. For the price he has quoted we could buy two finished houses each complete with a swimming pool. We also told our architect that we wanted an eco friendly house, ground source heat pump, that kind of thing, his price included for a gas boiler. Mr FF and I find it hard to discuss the way forward, Mr FF thinks that we might go out to Puglia and do the work ourselves when he retires. Something along the lines I imagine of the retired couple who featured on an episode of Grand Designs, they worked their bums off, labouring in the day time, making curtains in the evening, to provide an artists retreat. The end result was wonderful and the couple looked brilliantly healthy, eating local mozzarella, tanned and happy in cream linen. I can't see that happening to us, I'd rather just cut straight to the linen wearing scenes and miss out the tears and toil.
As I said, I don't want this all to sound ungrateful but sitting here in snowy Scotland wanting things to progress is totally frustrating. We are happy to pay, we want to use local people and naively we imagine they might want to do the work. Everyone is so friendly when we are out there and there is much reassurance that we should not worry, but worry we do and in the current economic climate we expected a more positive response.