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  • Writer's pictureRoger Hampton

9. Something broken, something new

Demolition is a harsh word. It brings thoughts of destruction into your mind without any meaning. However, dismantling something in many ways sounds more positive. It gives a sense of purpose and that's why I consider it more appropriate to talk about it in this manner. The house had to go. The failing foundations were a known factor from the first day that Diego visited the property for me. I would have seen it myself with the first glance too. Any crack that you can get your hand into, means something is very wrong. So the next question was what can we salvage? What is worth saving and what could be reused?

I have touched on this before. The project is classified as a renovation, but in many ways it is a new build. Not exactly what we wanted, but a safe way forward. The unknowns are reduced to negligible or at least minimised. So it is time to bring you all up to date. The house is now dismantled. We have yet to sort and clean all the materials that are to be reused, but the house is now gone.

The roof tiles were one of the most important materials to save. The main roof had beautiful terracotta tiles in the traditional half round form. These are all stored safely and the exposed tiles have their beautiful patina intact. These will go back on the new house. The construction under this, will be new, to adhere to the seismic regulations. We hoped that the terracotta tiles on the underside of the roof were something we could reuse, but it turned out to be a false hope. These were of a later date and machine made of hollow construction. They had been painted and are of little value other than landfill for the driveway. We are yet to discuss what we shall do about this, but I hope we can find some reclaimed tiles. Have a look at the sketch below to understand which tiles I am talking about and which finish we are aiming for.

The walls to the new house have to satisfy code and are therefore planned in reinforced hollow clay fired block. This is a typical wall construction in central Europe. I have experience of it from my time in Germany. The walls have special channels integrated in the blocks that are filled with reinforced concrete to tie the various construction elements together and therefore build up the seismic resistance. These walls will be further insulated and finally faced with the reclaimed brick. The bricks that are worth keeping are those that are hand made. The house was a blend of old hand made bricks and newer machine made. Something that leads me to believe that a house has been here before this one. We might just be doing exactly the same as was done many years before. It could be that back in ca 1940, they reused the brick of an existing house to rebuild a new. We had hoped there would be enough of the old bricks, but I think we might have to buy some more reclaimed bricks and blend them in with those we have. We have a way to go before this and we must take stock first.

There are some more materials that we have saved, for example some stone flooring and beams. We can use the beams for a pergola or something similar. We can't use these as structural beams again because of regulations. The new beams and trusses are already ordered. This was necessary as there are problems in the supply chain with many materials and we need to keep ahead of the game. We will find a use for the flooring, either inside or out, but I think I need to see it live and decide if it is going to fit with the rest of finishes.

Next up are the foundations and it will be great to be building something up again instead of just tearing things down!

I hope you are enjoying the posts. Tell me what you like and/or dislike about them. I know a lot of you are Norwegian (my home), is there anything I can explain better or needs translating? Do any of you dream of a place in Italy? Can I help you begin to realise your dream?

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