for the future
Being who I am and what I do for a living, meant unsurprisingly that I started designing straight away. Sketches were made and many options were considered and as many versions of those options you can think of, were explored. I knew what we wanted, but could we afford it? I did not intend to design a house that could be displayed across various magazines as a piece of avant garde architecture. The intention was to give us that feeling of Italy, a place that was home. The budget dictates this in any case. However, there is no reason for it not to be good architecture. The details in this case, are what will make the building.
The existing building has two large bedrooms and a third smaller one, a bathroom, living room and a kitchen. So what are we planning? We are a family of four and want to be able to receive guests. So ideally we would like four bedrooms and at least two bathrooms. Most of the first sketches were a complete waste of time, but I couldn't have cared less! It is all part of the process, going down some alleyways only to reach a dead-end, retreating and moving off in a slightly different direction.
Decisions have to be made…
I mentioned the superbonus before. Many have never heard of it. Many misunderstand it and many, even Italians don’t even believe in it. However it is real and to be able to apply for the bonus there are some things that have to be in place. The house has to be heated in some way from before and the house has to be as registered in the local authorities records. Both of these are in place in our case (part of the checks before the sale went through). Also, the house cannot be a luxury property and we are definitely not in that category. So it seems that we qualify, but not for the whole building. Our property is divided into two distinct zones. One of which is a stall where animals were kept in the past and a cellar for storage and wine production. The barrels are still there. The floor above is the apartment, which hadn’t been lived in for some years. It is only the volume of the heated area that qualifies for the energy bonus. However, both areas qualify for the seismic bonus. The one other thing is that it has to be a renovation, not a new build. However, demolishing an existing building for a good reason and rebuilding within planning constraints is still a renovation in Italy, as long as you do it correctly. You cannot, for example demolish the house with one permit and build it again with another. It would then be a new build and all hope of receiving the bonus would be lost. Of course, this takes time! We bought the property with the bonus in mind. Without it, our budget would have been blown and would have had a nice place to camp for the next few years!
So Diego made some enquiries at the municipality offices and confirmed first that they would accept a demolition and rebuild renovation. This wasn't 100% certain, as the building is zoned in the Centro Storico or historical center in English. They confirmed and the first decision was made. The old house from ca 1940 had served its purpose and would be taken down when the time was right. However, I stress that we are not building a new house. The house that is to be built shall reuse as many of the old materials as possible to keep the character of an Italian country home. That is very important to us. However it must be a safe home, built to withstand the earthquakes that come from time to time in the region and give us modern comfort all year round. The planning regulations required a house in a rural style in keeping also with the neighbouring historic center. The finish of the house was therefore chosen for us, as the rest of the village is mainly in brick. Further, the house could not be any larger than the existing volume.
With this in mind, the design of our dream had started to take form.