In the quest for your dream home in Italy, the wealth of advice and insights offered on Facebook groups can be both a blessing and a curse. While many well-intentioned individuals generously share their experiences and suggestions, it’s essential to tread carefully. Some of the questions and answers circulating can be surprisingly inaccurate or naïve.
In reality, purchasing a property in Italy, or anywhere else for that matter, is not something you should take lightly. Imagine buying a car without checking its service history or relying solely on your untrained ear to determine if the engine sounds right. It’s a risky proposition, and the same principle applies when it comes to buying property in Italy. You need to know that the house you’re eyeing is legally sound, structurally secure, and free from hidden issues. Italy, despite its charming image, is far from laid-back when it comes to rules and regulations. Navigating the bureaucratic maze can be a challenge, and without the right experts by your side, costly mistakes are waiting to happen.
If you’re considering cutting corners when purchasing a home in Italy, remember that you can skimp on furniture, but not on due diligence. A property survey conducted by a qualified ingegnere or geometra (structural & civil engineer, respectively) is worth its weight in gold, and here are five compelling reasons why:
1. Uncovering Potential Legal Issues:
Before sealing the deal, it’s crucial to determine if the property or any part of it has been constructed illegally. Local authorities maintain comprehensive records of all buildings within their jurisdiction, including floor plans, building permits, and certificates of habitability. An ingegnere can cross-reference these records to ensure the property aligns with the approved plans. Any undocumented changes or additions may result in fines that could be passed on to the new owner. A survey can unveil these discrepancies, providing you with the leverage to renegotiate the price or insist that the seller settles any outstanding fines.
D&G Experience: Before we bought our house, our survey revealed that one of the bathrooms had been built without permission, and a partition wall had also been removed but the plans held at the comune were not updated. This resulted in a fine of €1,000 which we would have inherited.
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2. Identifying Structural Concerns:
A comprehensive survey can reveal underlying structural issues that may not be immediately visible. Whether it’s earthquake damage, issues arising from subsidence, or the necessity for roof replacement, being aware of potential expenses is crucial. This knowledge allows you to negotiate with the seller for necessary repairs or deductions from the selling price prior to purchase.
D&G Experience: Countless Instances! On a recent property inspection with our ingegnere, it became evident that the property had endured earthquake damage. Shockingly, documents filed with the authorities had been tampered with, falsely indicating that all repairs were complete!
In another instance, a client requested our ingegnere to inspect a property labelled by the agent as having ‘minor earthquake cracks,’ only to discover extensive subsidence damage. Additionally, during an inspection of our own house, the survey uncovered a damaged cornice on the top floor, posing a risk of falling onto the street below.
Without such insights, you might be left footing the bill for costly repairs, possibly leading to protracted legal battles.
3. Estimating Renovation Costs:
A property survey goes beyond identifying issues; it also provides a detailed breakdown of the costs associated with your renovation plans. This knowledge can prevent unpleasant surprises down the road. You’ll have a clear understanding of expenses like roof replacement, electrical and plumbing updates, heating system installations, and even luxuries like air conditioning or additional bathrooms. With this information, you can budget more effectively and make informed decisions on the level of finishes and materials you desire.
D&G Experience: It’s not just the renovation work that transforms a property into your dream home; it’s also addressing outdated elements like plumbing, electrical systems, and more. These essential but often overlooked aspects come with associated costs that you’ll need to consider before making a purchase decision.
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4. Expertise in Navigating Regulations: To submit plans to the local authorities, update floor plans, and ensure project compliance, you’ll need a qualified professional such as an ingegnere, architect, or geometra. A property survey not only uncovers issues but also connects you with the right expert who can guide you through the regulations and requirements.
D&G Experience: In Italy, engaging a qualified professional is necessary for submitting plans to local authorities and obtaining permissions for renovation projects. This individual will also oversee the entire project. Throughout the renovation process, it’s essential to inform the local comune about the works being carried out and obtain necessary permissions. While some may overlook this step, an ingegnere will provide guidance on what tasks can be done independently and which require official approval.
5. Access to Reliable Contractors: An experienced ingegnere can recommend trustworthy builders and gather multiple quotes for your renovation project. They can also act as a liaison between you and the builders to ensure the work progresses smoothly. This invaluable network can save you time and potential headaches during your renovation journey.
D&G Experience: We required a team of builders to install a new roof at our house. However, there were instances where they showed up inconsistently, often vanishing for days without prior notice. Fortunately, our ingegnere played a crucial role in ensuring that they adhered to the agreed timeline by applying pressure when necessary.