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Building Your Own Home

Italy - Building Your Own Home

People in Italy often opt for building their homes instead of buying or renting one; this trend is seen in the local as well as the expat population. It is also very common for people for foreigners (especially the British) to restore and renovate rundown properties that they have purchased for virtually nothing. Buyers not only get their dream home in Italy, a few of them also make a decent profit on their investment. However, there are several considerations to take into account before taking the decision to build your own home or restore a house in Italy.

In order to erect a building or make any structural changes to one, it is essential to first seek permission from the local commune. It usually takes about 3 months to get the approval and paperwork sorted. Construction cannot start until the planning permission (permessi comunali or concessione edilizia) comes through. Any property built without the permission is considered illegal and the owner may be subject to heavy fines.

If you decide to build your own house from the scratch, the first step will be buying a piece of land. Most of the Italian countryside has a huge variety of scenic land to choose from. Moreover, the plots are available at prices much lower than the UK and certain parts of America. It is easy to find “land with building permission” on sale in this country. After finalizing the area where the house needs is going to be built, you need to hire a Geometra or an Architect to draw up a draft the DIA (Dichiarazione di Inizio Attivita). This plan should ideally include the prospective structure and layout of the house, along with the details about the land. The draft should also contain specifications about the material that will be used to build the house. Submitting the plan and obtaining the SCIA (Segnalazione Certificata di Inzio Attivita) costs a few hundred Euros.

The procedure for remodeling a house is quite similar. After an old house is purchased, a geometra needs to draw up the plans outlining all the details about the interior and exterior remodeling work. Getting permission for restoration is easier, especially if you keep most of the original structure intact.

Housing regulations in Italy vary from one region to the other. For example, a swimming pool cannot be constructed on agricultural land. In some areas, planning regulations are strongly reinforced so that the beauty of the countryside remains intact. If a building of historical importance is being remodeled, seeking permission from the Ministry of Culture (Belli Arti) is mandatory. Make sure that the Geometra you engage is well-versed with the planning laws and permission process of each region.

One important factor to keep in mind, before deciding between building a house and renovating an old property, is the cost. People actually pay a lot more that they expected when they get a builder to restore a house. This is because old bits and pieces need to be removed and demolished before the house can be reconstructed using new parts. Restoring the house without the involvement of a builder is difficult but much easier on the pocket.

Depending upon the materials used the average cost of building a new house in Italy is between €800 and €1,000 per square meter. The price for restoring a property through a builder is somewhere around €1,200. If the restoration is done personally the cost further drops to between €650 and €900 per square meter.

Hiring a builder for construction or remodeling of a house may be a more feasible option for expats and foreigners who spend a fair amount of time away from Italy. However, always hire only those builders who are licensed, certified and experienced. Asking a builder for references before engaging him is a common practice. It is also important to check if the builder is insured to cover non-completion and injury on site. It is essential to get detailed estimates from builders for all the planned work in written.

There are several freelancing builders and construction companies in Italy that expats can choose from and therefore zeroing in on the right one can be a challenge. It is always advisable to engage someone known. In case that is not possible, consult with at least 3 to 5 contractors before choosing one. Some of the contractors who undertake projects for expats include:

Casambiente SRL
Strada San Felicissimo, n. 8/ter, 06134 Ponte Felcino, Perugia
Tel: +39 075 5091705/ +39 393 3322012/ +39 328 8122511
Fax: +39 075 9480229
URL: http://www.casambiente.com

Abode Italy
Cia Caduti do Penetola 39, 06019 Niccone, Umbria
Tel: +39 075 9417554
Fax: +39 075 9415439
URL: http://www.abodeitaly.com

Homes in Italy
Via Primaticco 18, 40128 Bologna
Tel: +39 051 362194
URL: http://www.homesinitaly.co.uk

In Italy, building a house from the ground up usually takes about 2 years or so. Of course, this could get extended in case of any problems or delays on the builder’s part. Remodeling generally takes a shorter period of time and can be completed in 6 to 12 months. If you are undertaking the project on your own, the duration could vary significantly.

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