If you’ve ever renovated an Italian home you’ll already know that there is a system of bureaucracy to wade through before any modifications begin. Hiring a Geometra or Ingegnere to submit a project of works to local authorities gives peace of mind that you will not run into problems further down the line or when you come to sell your home.
But who should you hire to help cut through the red tape that comes with renovating in Italy, a geometra or an ingegnere? And what exactly does each one do?
We asked our Geometra, Tania, to explain the differences between both roles, as well as talk us through the process involved in obtaining Italian planning consent.
WHAT DOES A GEOMETRA & INGEGNERE DO?
What is the main difference between a Geometra and Ingegnere?
Both are university educated and must be qualified to practice, taking an exam to gain a professional qualification.
A Geometra must complete five years of study at technical college, followed by an internship of two years, before taking the state exam in order to qualify and be enrolled into the college of Geometra’s within the province.
An Ingegnere must be university educated and study at technical college before qualifying, although an internship is not necessary.
A Geometra can arrange projects of all sizes, as well as drawing floor plans and carrying out any research needed regarding properties. He or she are also able to present completed projects to a local comune (council).
Elements of projects such as structural calculations or designs will need to be completed by an Ingegnere. Most technical studios consist of both a Geometra and an Ingegnere, as well as perhaps an architect.
I work very closely with an Ingegnere in my office who compiles all of the structural calculations and provides any structural drawings for my projects.
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What fee would you expect to pay a Geometra to oversee the building works to a house?
It is difficult to give a specific price because this depends on how much work a project involves.
Each project or job is different and therefore has a different cost, some Geometras will charge a flat fee that is dependent on the amount of hours worked, while others may charge a percentage of the total project cost – usually between 10 – 12%. This is in addition to other fees charged by local councils and land registry departments (see more below).
Would you need a Geometra if you are only carrying out minor internal changes to a house, for example a new bathroom, flooring, windows, etc.
Yes, you will need a Geometra to present a project to the local comune that gives details on renovations as well as any changes being made to the property.
This type of small-scale project is called a Scia – it enables a comune to update their floor plans for your property and usually works can begin the same day as permission is not needed. The comune will charge a set fee for submitting a Scia which varies between areas, usually somewhere between €120 – €150.
There is more bureaucracy involved in projects that require permission. My first job as a Geometra is to ascertain the type of project I need to arrange for a client based on the level of modifications they are making to their home.
Does this only apply to old houses, or would you need a Geometra to submit a project even in a brand new or newer house?
Yes – we are required to update a comune as each one keeps floor plans of all houses within their jurisdiction that have had works carried out.
Does a Geometra usually find the professionals who will carry out works to a home, or is it up to the home-owner to do this?
If the owner has his or her own trusted firm, that is fine, otherwise the Geometra or Ingegnere will obtain quotes from building companies or tradespeople.
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HOW A GEOMETRA OBTAINS PLANNING PERMISSION
When a Geometra oversees a project, what is the process involved in obtaining permission from the comune?
There are several steps. To begin with, I inspect the construction site or property and establish with the owner the works that are to be carried out. Then I have a meeting with the institutions involved, such as the municipality, relevant provincial departments, etc, so that I can establish the type of project to be presented.
Sometimes I will need to ascertain whether certain elements can be carried out, so I need to be fully up to date with local planning rules, requesting this information from the comune or discussing these elements with my Ingegnere.
I will then prepare a project, which includes both the original and new floor plans that show all updates to be made to the home. As original floor plans are held with the local comune, I deal with their office to obtain these.
Once the project is completed I submit it to the comune. (Only a Geometra, Ingegnere or Architect can submit a project.) In the case of a Scia, works can begin straight away, whereas projects that require permission to be granted can take up to 60 days for approval. This can involve amending and adjusting plans for the scope of works until we receive permission to carry them out.
Fees to submit both the Scia and larger projects will vary from comune to comune.
What happens in cases where the comune does not grant permission?
In these cases I make suggestions about amendments and discuss these with the home owner. Often, laws change which sometimes allow more flexibility or can restrict us further. I discuss all of this with the Ingegnere at the local comune office, until we come up with a new plan to discuss with the owner.
Once everyone is happy, I update the project and resubmit it for approval.
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