Farmhouse Langhe

The story so far: Part 3

As you might expect, buying a house in Italy is very different to buying a house in the UK. As you might not expect, the whole process is actually considerably more straightforward in Italy.

When you make an offer in Italy, you sign a contract. If the vendor accepts your offer, they sign the contract too and that’s that. You’ve bought the house. If you have to pull out, you lose your deposit, if the vendor pulls out, they pay you twice your deposit. No time-wasters here.

With our sights firmly set on the big yellow house we both took a deep breath and started the offer process… again. It took a while, contracts were passed back and forward four or five times, the big numbers rising by increasingly small amounts each time, but at least the vendor was clearly keen on selling. Eventually, on New Year’s Day, we got an email saying our latest offer had been accepted.

We were now the proud owners of a big yellow house in the Langhe! 

Farmhouse Langhe
We bought a house!

I won’t bore you with the next bit – it involves lots of forms, signatures, meetings and dodgy estate agents – but three months later we picked up the rather large bundle of keys and headed for our new home.

By this point, a lot of people in our position would have had plans in place for the renovations and might even have spoken with some local builders. We didn’t and we hadn’t. After our previous failures we hadn’t wanted to get too emotionally invested in this one until we actually had the keys. Also, I’m a firm believer that you have to live in a house for a bit to get a feel for the space and figure out how it works before you can plan what to do with it.

It may need some work

On the plus side, this meant we could spend the whole summer at the house, getting to know the area, working on plans, getting quotes, hosting old friends and making new ones. And a great summer it was too. We saw Jamiroquai play in Barolo, drove around the Langhe in a friend’s Beetle Cabriolet, went surfing in Liguria, drank wine, climbed mountains, had water fights at Mangialonga and even got burgled. Apparently it was Romanians. Anything bad that happens here is always Romanians. We didn’t have the heart to tell people we had a Romanian friend staying at our house that night. Thinking about it, maybe it was an inside job!?

Making awesome new friends
Making awesome new friends

Sadly, despite optimistically hoping to start the building in the autumn, we’re still yet to see a hammer swung in anger. You see, things move far more slowly in Italy than I ever imagined. We waited three months for a quote from a builder, we’re in our seventh month of waiting for a Thermotechnical Report and we just found out that our Geometra still hasn’t filed all the necessary paperwork at the local town hall despite having it in a folder on his desk since last July. None of this seems to surprise anyone.

As if quitting our jobs, moving country, buying a house and really wanting to renovate it wasn’t exciting enough, we took things up a level in January when we welcomed a new arrival into our family – Bee. She’s amazing and puts all our renovation stresses into perspective. One little smile and everything is suddenly right with the world. She’s slowed us down a bit, obviously, and Otto sometimes eyes her a bit suspiciously, but she’s also given us an extra drive, a determination to make the house awesome for her.

Me and Bee

And that’s where we are right now. Parenting, harassing geometras, chomping at the bit to get started on our works and most of all, still loving being in Italy. We weren’t naive enough to think it would all be easy, but some of the challenges it’s thrown up have been rather surprising.  We’re still here though, we’re still enjoying it (mostly) and we can’t wait to fill you all in on the next part of our journey.

In case you missed them, check out:

The Story So Far: Part 1

The Story So Far: Part 2

37 thoughts on “The story so far: Part 3

  1. If anything happens here, they blame the Russians, the Jews, the blacks (all 2 of them) or the ‘gypsies’. Great story so far and best of luck with the next part of your story! 🙂

  2. Wow, isn’t that what life is all about? LIVING!l If everything came so easy to us it would not be all that important or special! Love your real world story! Bee is adorable and so is that Otto!

  3. CadyLuck really nailed it! You 3 are truly LIVING and the rewards as everything comes together will be all the more sweeter! Truly! The waiting is the hardest part. So says Tom Petty. Oh, and TOTALLY get pygmy goats!!! And a sheep or 3! Built in lawn mowers.
    Looking forward to hearing about your continued journey! Thanks for providing a window to this world of yours! Counting down the days to our own Italy travels!!! Squeeeeeeeee!

    1. Thanks so much… that Tom Petty knows a thing or two doesn’t he! Those goats look so cool, I’d love to see Otto’s reaction if we brought one home. That would definitely be something to record and post on here!

      Not long to go now…. I bet you can almost taste the wine!! 🙂

  4. Little Bee, busy doing the worrying for you! Interesting to hear how straightforward house-buying is in Italy, as it is in France. Only in England and Wales (not Scotland) is it a nightmare right up to the last nail-biting minute, and at least three relatives there are currently losing sleep instead of enjoying the thought of a new home…. one in Bristol!
    I completely agree that it’s best to live in a place for quite a while before deciding how to renovate. Looking forward to hearing about it!

    1. It’s a horrible process in England isn’t it. Until you’ve exchanged you really have no idea whether or not you’ll get the house, and in the meantime you have to spend thousands on solicitor fees. We’ve lost out a couple of times because of people lying and cheating. It’s really not good. So yep, Italy (and France too I guess) really is much better in that respect. Best of luck to your relatives, particularly the Bristol ones, obviously! 😉

  5. The same thing happen to us, when we first started our renovation we lived in a caravan, which got turned over whilst doing a spot of shopping in our local village. On going to the police they pulled out a folder full of criminals photo’s. We were told that 95% of the crimes in Bergolo, Alba & Cortimilia are Romanians. But remember the bigger the Challenge the bigger the rewards.. And life here in Italy is wonderful..Good luck..

    1. They broke into your caravan!? Who breaks into a caravan?? I hope they didn’t get too much.

      Yep, these things are sent to challenge us. If nothing else, it taught us that we needed to think seriously about security, so it was actually quite useful.

      1. A common thief, they never caught the culprits but they only took material things, our laptop, Camera and hubby favourite plastic watch, which wasn’t of any value. The insurance covered some of the loss. But at first it did take the shine off our dream. But luckily for time, good neighbours and a positive outlook we got the passion back for our renovation venture which I feel you need as it’s a long and winding road with lots of ups and downs. Looking back we wouldn’t change anything.

      2. That sounds remarkably similar to what happened to us. Just material things (and cheese)… they even took hard drives out of my camera bag and left them on the table and emptied my credit cards out of my wallet before stealing cash. Fortunately, our neighbour scared them away, so we found our computers and car keys in the garden, I guess they must have dropped them and run. The scariest thing was that we were in the house at the time and didn’t hear a thing! I’m glad it happened when it did, and like you we have great neighbours who have helped us get our passion back. Still a long way to go though, I’m ready for the ups but I’m not so sure about the downs!

  6. Salve, è da un po’ di tempo che seguo il suo blog (mi interessa tantissimo capire come si vede l’Italia e il Piemonte da parte di persone che vi arrivano dall’estero). Mi dispiace tanto per la vostra disavventura immobiliare; sappia che per noi in Italia è stressante nella stessa maniera se non peggio. Però sono altrettanto contento che vostra figlia vi abbia dato nuove motivazioni e nuovo slancio per affrontare le difficoltà perché alla fine i pasticci e le complicazioni passano in secondo piano. Buona Fortuna per tutto, con l’augurio che del Piemonte le rimanga, nonostante tutto, qualcosa di bello da ricordare.

    1. Ciao Ilario, thanks for your message. I”m glad to know Italians find things just as hard sometimes. I think it’s all about finding the right people. If you have someone good on your side things can go really smoothly, if you don’t it can be a nightmare. We are still loving Piemonte though, and have so much still to explore. It’s hard even to know where to begin!

      Thanks for reading and I hope you keep enjoying it!

  7. Our house was broken into as well and of course my Italian husband was the first one to think it was Romanians. They get blamed for everything. Oddly enough, I was just in Bucharest this week….I liked the city….and those people had a hard, hard life under Ceaușescu. And you were correct…the italians would go nuts for the daily mail! 🙂

    1. Yeah, my Romanian friend was telling me just recently that Bucharest is a really nice city now.I’d love to go one day. Maybe I can find my camera there 😉

      Houses get broken into a lot in Italy don’t they. I’d never really heard of it happening to many friends in the UK, but here everyone seems to have been broken into at least once!

  8. Bee is adorable!!! So tiny, you guys have come so far, still have a long road ahead but how much fun you will squeeze into the next few years will be priceless. Of course you’ll get pissed off, mad and think of ways to hurt people in the building trade but on the bright side, you have so many cool things to show Bee and yourselves. I wish you the best of luck as a family and will keep following even when my Italian life bubble pops!

    1. Thank you so much. It’s certainly all an adventure! I can’t wait to one day post some photos of a finished house. Of course, that might never happen, but I really hope it does!! I hope you’ll still be blogging when you leave Italy?

      1. There will be a finished house, no doubt! As for me still blogging after Italy…I’m not sure, I’m still thinking about the next phase but I’ll let you know 🙂

  9. Wish buying a house were as easy as that! Then again, at least here in the UK house projects such as yours won’t take that long to begin 🙂 After our disappointment, we’re actually thinking of renovating our house instead of selling. We’ve actually spoken to an architect, just weighing our options. Love the daughter-father photo btw! 🙂

    1. That sounds like a good idea, far less hassle than buying and selling. I know a great Italian Geometra who I’m sure would be delighted to work in England if you’re interested 😉

  10. Love reading your story! And what a great picture of you and Bee! I hope your renovation can start very soon.
    My partner is a ‘property renovator’ in England and even here things don’t always run smoothly once you get the keys – he lost 4 months on his current project thanks to a dithering neighbour who couldn’t be bothered to do his bit with the party wall act. But now if he moans about an electrician turning up two hours late I might remind him how lucky he is he doesn’t have to deal with Italian electricians !! 😉

    1. Thanks Andrea! I’ll have to post a photo of our piles of paperwork… just when you think you’ve filed every possible form, there are another ten to do. There’s nothing more frustrating than waiting on other people to stop dithering, I can sympathise with your partner, but if he ever complains again, just tell him we’ve now waited 7 months for a report on heating and insulation.

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