I sometimes feel like Italy is having one giant laugh at my expense, and the only thing I can do is laugh along.
Four weeks ago we discovered, quite by accident, that the planning permission we achieved last July doesn’t actually give us permission to do any work to our house. What we need for that is a ‘Permesso di Costruire’ (Permission to Build).
We probably should have known about this, but we asked our Geometra over and over again if there was anything else we needed to do before starting work and he never once mentioned it.
At the same time, we also unearthed a letter that the Comune (town hall) sent to our Geometra last summer. It contained a long list of things he needed to provide before we could get this Permesso di Costruire. He hadn’t provided any of them. Which I guess may explain his reluctance to tell us about the Permesso.
Our builders, EffettoTetto, bravely stepped into the breach and have been working really hard to get everything sorted for us. So much so, that we’re actually getting quite close to getting our hands on it now.
The thing is though, before you get the Permesso, you have to pay some tax. Actually, not just some tax – a huge, eye-watering, stomach-churning amount of tax. It’s a combination of a construction tax, calculated on a percentage of what the work should cost, and a fee based on the size of the area to be renovated in cubic metres (think about that for a second…. it means we’re paying to renovate air. Square metres, fine, but cubic metres?!). Plus a small deposit that presumably we’ll get back if we’re well-behaved.
It took the Comune three weeks to calculate how much we had to pay, but when the rather upsetting figure eventually arrived, there was still one piece of information missing; the reference number. Without this, we couldn’t pay. “We’re working on it,” they said. “We just need a bit more time to generate the number. We’re very busy at the moment.” Three days and many phone calls later, the long, complex number finally arrived. It was 5.
So now we’ve paid our taxes, told our daughter and our dog that they can’t eat for the next six months and we have to collect the Permesso on Monday. But there’s just one more thing… the Comune still aren’t quite happy with the plans that they approved last July. They’ve requested an amendment, which we’ll take in on Monday. If they like how we’ve done it, we get our Permesso. If they don’t, we don’t.
I lied, there are actually two more things. The other is that we’ve discovered that the permission we have to build a new access road is exactly that, a permission. It’s not an actual Permesso (there’s a difference there, keep up). So, we have to reapply for that now too.
As no Italian has ever said: Due passi in avanti, uno in dietro. You’ve got to laugh…