Nine ways to make life easier when doing up your dream home in Le Marche (or anywhere else in Italy):
- Always follow the official rules even if locals tell you it isn't necessary - nowadays it is; never do any work without *all* the proper permissions.
- Don't get work done in nero, avoiding paying IVA (Italian value added tax) and not getting proper invoices. If something goes wrong then you will have no
proof of monies paid and work done; in the event of an accident on site you could even find yourself criminally responsible. For some restoration work on old properties IVA can be as low as 4 per
cent - check with your architect whether the work is eligible for lower IVA rates.
- Before you start work make sure you know exactly what you want - put as much of your ideas down on paper.
- Don't leave any important decisions to builders and don't let builders boss you around; they love telling you that something can't be done, a common tactic when it
comes to getting them to use re-use old materials (of course it's always much easier for them to use nice, brand new stuff).
- Respect local building styles and materials - some of the ugliest restorations are the result of people importing alien materials and styles from "back home".
Employing a good local architect should helps you avoid this pitfall - listen to what they say.
- Don't underestimate restoration costs, particularly for old buildings; it is often much cheaper to simply demolish an old house and build a new one although the
result may not be quite what you had in mind.
- An estimate of costs or preventivo is essential but will probably not give you a final figure for works. Most often estimates will be given for the cost per
square metre of, say, building a new roof or the cost per linear metre of putting up gutters; the final figure will be calculated at the end when the work done will be measured.
- Remember that restoring an old house almost always involves imprevisti , problems that only come to light as work progresses such as walls that need serious remedial work. These imprevisti often substantially increase costs - make sure you agree these extra costs before the unforeseen works are carried out.
- Check if you're property is in an earthquake zone. Much of the inland Marche is subject to earthquakes - the last was in 1997 which caused much damage around
Fabriano and in neighbouring Umbria. If you are in an area prone to quakes, major restoration work will by law require you to carry out expensive anti-quake measures - people may suggest that you
don't need to do these works but do you really want to be buried alive in the rubble of your dream home?
- When drawing up your plans bear in mind just how bleak winter often is - a metre and a half of snow in inland areas of the region in February 2005 for example - and
just how much central heating costs; double glazing may mean uglier windows than the pretty old ones but after a few winters here you'll understand why they are better.