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  • Writer's pictureRoger Hampton

14. Back again!

Updated: Mar 28, 2022

Hi again everybody. First let me apologise for being away so long. A lot has been going on at both home and abroad. So let's catch up!

A couple of weeks ago, I returned to Italy for the first time since we really got started on site. The last time I was at the property, the team had just began to dismantle the old house. They have been brilliant, keeping me informed of all the developments, but all the same it was exciting to get back. In recent weeks we have had to make certain decisions that have not been very comfortable. For example, we had to decide on the type of facing bricks to use. We have some bricks from the old house, but nowhere near enough, unfortunately. The quality of the bricks from the existing house was for the most lacking. They were typical of their time, cheap early machine production. There are some high quality hand made bricks, but all too few and these we will be put to use as part of the landscaping.

However, the new bricks are actually old. They are recovered from another house, but I didn’t see them or hold them before choosing. I could never recommend this, but we had to secure them. Diego, my project manager, saw them and recommended them. He tried his best to put my mind at ease. With this we also managed to lock down the price. We have done the same with the clay tiles that are to be built into the ceilings, as is the traditional method of building in central Italy. Again we didn’t have enough of our own, so we have managed to secure the next best thing, new hand made tiles, where no two tiles will be the same, made the way they were centuries before. With this, the project wouldn't stop up. We were offered new bricks, that would be made to look old, but these were both expensive and of a lesser quality, and worse again, unavailable for immediate delivery.

On arrival, I was not disappointed. The bricks are wonderful and full of character. They will be even better when completed with the mortar we chose on site. The antique sand colour works really well together with the brick. In is part of Le Marche, the bricks are often fired somewhat longer, which makes them more yellow than red. There are of course some variations, there always are, especially with older bricks, as the kilns where not as evenly heated as modern day kilns are.

At the time, the walls were up to the lintels over the windows and doors, ca 2,5m (7’6”) over the finished floor level. I was starting to get a feel for the spaces on the ground floor. You can look at computer generated images as long as you like, but it is never the same. Now it was down to the details.

The regulations in Italy are quite stringent and some of our plans for relief in the facade had to be scrapped, due to wall thickness. As many of you know, there is a building boom in Italy now. The market is struggling to respond to the demands and certain materials are in short supply. Insulation is one of these. We should have been using 2x 6cm rigid insulation in the walls, but it was almost impossible to find enough at 6cm. Stefano (contractor) had to buy in 8cm instead for one of the layers. It doesn’t sound like much, but it is enough to force the changes as we have built the maximum allowed. Instead, we have to pay more attention to the details around the entrance and the eaves. Diego and I traveled around the area looking at various examples and agreed on a solution. I think it will be a good compromise.

Here are some of the examples that we found. Some will be similar, others are used as inspiration.

As I mentioned in the previous post, one of the most important things to be done on the trip was to sign the contracts with the electrician and the plumber/heating engineer. We all met on site and had a quick chat before signing on the dotted line. It was great to meet and have, although brief, a discussion with those who are going to be doing the work. I explained a few things and everybody was agreed. Great to meet people who know their stuff. I was quickly at ease. However, the reins are still on and I will be checking over most things before it all gets buried in the fabric of the building.

After a very good lunch by the sea, we moved on the view some materials. Lots of decisions to be made over the next weeks and months. Everything from tiles for the floors and walls, to bathroom suites and plaster has to be decided upon. I'll not bore you with all the details, but we went on to use many hours checking out some of the possibilities. Windows and doors were also on the agenda. A very important part, which could be a potential headache.

The supply chain is having problems and delivery times are long for certain items. Like I mentioned above for the insulation, some things, including raw materials are in short supply. It seems that windows are one of them. We are looking at some alternatives. Even sourcing them in neighbouring Austria. I am using my contact network, as is Diego, to find a solution, at a price we can afford. I will bring you up to date in the next post.

In the meantime, here are a few doors we are looking at. How do you like them?

There is more news on the Superbonus again, for those who are interested. I think I might write a separate post about the changes when they are confirmed. It may not be much of a change at all, but I will let the dust settle before trying to explain. I do not want to misinform.

And finally, I did have time to enjoy the view when I was there. I hope you enjoy it as much as I am going to in the time to come!

Don't just leave it as a dream. Just remember, dreams do come true, but seldom without a little proaction.

Stay safe everybody and best wishes to you all!

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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