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Rough beginnings for Renovation


It has been a while since we have blogged about our house, but we are now back in Italy and the website has been updated.  Therefore, I am apologizing ahead of time for my verbosity.  We have a lot to catch up on.  When last we were here in Italy, we were struggling with the unpleasant realization that the house our purchase agreement claimed was 80% renovated needed a lot more than 20% worth of help.  One of the biggest problems was the floor of the 2nd floor/ceiling of the first floor.  The wood flooring had warped considerably and the wood beams supporting the underside were not lining up with it.  This caused the upstairs floor to bow to a frightening extent when tread upon.  The other problem was that the house was molding everywhere due to an increase in rain in recent years and the lack of someone living there to heat and improve air flow in the house.  Oh and the roof that had been replaced recently by the previous owners was leaking everywhere.  We had come to Italy that year with the delusion that we would have a few more major things fixed and the house cleaned. Then in a month we would move in and remodel the house slowly over time.  Our enlightenment on the true nature of things was heart breaking and we spent the first month in Italy slowly  accepting the fact that it would be a long time before we moved into our home.  

In the midst of discovering these problems we began working with an architect and a set of local carpenters to come up with solutions for making the house more livable.   The architect was recommended by the Caitlin, who helped us buy our house.  He was the architect who helped with the paperwork during the sale and his name was Marco.  The carpenters, Guido and Roberto we found on our own when came across their showroom in Pieve Fosciana, our closest town.  Neither the architect nor the carpenters spoke English and once again our patient friend,  Marco graciously translated for us.  Both the architect and the carpenters appear to be nice and highly competent at what they do, but we love the carpenters and we were not particularly crazy about the architect.  We are aware that this is due to cultural difference and translation difficulty. The architect was verbose, which makes for a very frustrating translation experience. He was often late, which is a stereotype trait of Italians. The carpenters were always early despite being Italian and Guido is so passionate in his speech that sometimes you get his meaning without the translation. Unfortunately, most of what would be done by the carpenters could not begin until after we had solved the more structural problems.  After months of meeting with  Marco and waiting for our estimates, he finally came back to us with estimates from 2 different companies.  Despite having written out and translated what we were interested in, the estimates were missing many items we requested and contained a completely different heating system because the contractors felt that a pellet stove would be a better option than what we wanted.  This was just not working out.  

Shortly before leaving to go back to the states we met with the carpenters to go over future plans for our kitchen.  They had previously given us a drawing of a potential kitchen they could install and we were immediately in love.  Guido brought in his teenage daughter to translate for us.  He is very proud of her English skills.  We were also very proud of our growing Italian skills as we had spent our months waiting living in Lucca and attending the Lucca Italian School.  However, Guido and Roberto have a tendency to a speak in the local dialect, so we were very grateful for Guido's daughter.  While there we asked for a recommendation for a new local architect.  He gave us the name of local architect who they had worked with a few times in the past.  His name was David and he was originally from Ireland.  He often did work for foreigners and in Guido's opinion he was good, but he couldn't attest to his affordability.  Guido's daughter protested as he warned us that regardless of who we choose we should make sure we get a recommendation by someone we trust because some Italians could be real stronzi (assholes).  We laughed and reassured his daughter that she did not have to translate that. That was Italian we understood. Fortunately, David turned out to be a good match for us and we were able to return to United States knowing that our extensive house project was in good hands. Over the next year several repairs were accomplished with David keeping us informed through pictures, videos and phone calls.