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!
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.
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!?
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.
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.
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