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  • Writer's pictureRoger Hampton

6. How big to go?

Updated: Nov 1, 2021

A little while later, I had come up with a scheme. We liked the layout and it served our purposes. I had used all of the available area. So I sent it over to Diego. He checked through it and came back with some bad news. As with everywhere else in Europe, certain building materials, especially steel and timber had increased shockingly in price. I was aware of this from my work here in Norway also. I decided it was too big a risk to move forward. It would be too hard to claw back the overspend in relation to our budget and too big a risk to take. The last thing I wanted was to be standing there without the funds to be able to pay. The only option was to reduce the scope a little. By reducing the footprint and keeping a simple form, it would also reduce the costs. I house I had designed was a simple enough form, but had a split level on the ground floor, following the terrain. I would have to reduce the size by about 20% and keep it within a a basic two storey rectangular volume. It was a compromise, but my head told me it was right. I made the changes and with a new estimate made, we agreed that this was it. The estimate was much nearer what I had expected and with the bonus, it was within reach (fingers crossed).

It was now time for Diego and his team to take over. The documentation needed for an application was something I was not going to get involved in. Best to know one’s limitations. I have worked in various foreign countries in different languages, but my Italian is all too basic for this type of thing. That said, it's not as if I was prepared to slip the reigns completely. Diego and I have worked closely and he has ensured that I have been informed all the way. He worked on getting in some offers from trusted contractors at the same time and therefore, work was started on all fronts; the basic application drawings which include the existing building and the new renovation, seismic reports and foundation design, heating and cooling design and energy reports etc. The quantities had been worked out and sent to contractors for pricing. All this was happening in June. A little over a month had gone since we had purchased. A lot had to be done in a short space of time in the run up to the holidays in July. Lots of calls and Teams meetings were held. We thought we had control, when the Comune di Belvedere Ostrense began to question if they would allow a swimming pool. My heart sank a little. Our dream of Italy without a pool at some stage was not what we had in mind. Sure, the beaches are not far away, but that's not quite the same. However, after a bit of discussion, they finally agreed with us, that a pool would not be a new volume and therefore within the regulations for the Centro Storico. I gave a sigh of relief.

Our first visit to our little piece of Italy was nearing. We had our holidays planned for July.

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