Renovation Projects

For many people it is a lifelong ambition to restore an old property in Italy, creating the property of their dreams while making a wise investment.Whilst researching locations to find that perfect run down property is the key to making that wise investment there are many factors to consider before taking the plunge and purchasing.
There are many old properties crying out to be renovated, the reason for this seems to be that the older generation can no longer maintain the land that usually accompanies this type of property, and the Italian younger generation, who don’t want to pursue this way of life, move towards living in towns to be more conveniently positioned for work, amenities etc.
It is important to establish in the early stages the difference between renovation and modernisation. Modernisation generally refers to work like installing a new bathroom, new kitchen, new tiles, maybe some electrical/plumbing work that enhances what already exists. Renovation, on the other hand, requires the expertise of local professionals including Geometras, builders etc. who fully understand the local legislation in relation to planning and building and who are sympathetic to the renovation process and have experience of a variety building techniques.

It is important to remember that you are renovating your property in Italy and all relevant legislation, planning, documentation and building techniques will be according to Italian law, requirements and procedures, which vary from other countries and also within each region of Italy, so although difficult not to compare with what would happen in your own country it is often a fruitless and frustrating task.

Points to Consider when buying a Renovation Project:


Types of property to renovate tend to be traditional historical centre houses often set in a small town/village largely without a garden, or independent farm houses that can have either small or large amounts of land with them.


  • Location is the one thing that cannot be changed after purchase so take time to view the area as a whole – think about the times of year you will be visiting if you are not relocating – what is the access like?

  •  Look at amenities – shops, schools – if required, public transport, nearest neighbours, and during the renovation, access for materials and tradesmen.


It is important to establish a budget as renovating a property is a big financial commitment and you must be realistic about your financial limitations. Understanding the procedures and costs is very important.



  •  Seek advice and assistance from a local person who can converse in both languages who has handled this type of work before

  •  Ensure you understand what you are paying for in advance – what is and is not included in quotes

  •  Consider the differing qualities of building materials and select according to your budget

  •  The majority of building materials are Italian made and therefore not found at cheap imported prices – although economic ranges are offered

  •  Build in a contingency fund to your budget as renovations often go over budget



Once you have decided on a location and established a budget you are ready to start viewing prospective properties.

  • Use a local agent that speaks both English and Italian and also someone who is familiar with the many laws and procedures of buying old/second hand property

  • Surveys are not compulsory when buying property in Italy but, it can help give an idea of work required and an initial estimate of costs. All properties can be restored, but you need to ascertain if the costs outweigh the benefits.

What Planning Permissions do I require?

Firstly, the professionals that you require are either a Geometra, Architect or Engineer. For the majority of renovations a Geometra is the chosen professional.
The type of planning permission required to restore your property depends on the type of work you wish to carry out.

There are mainly 2 options:

  • S.C.I.A.A: this is not a full project and used primarily for minor works not related to changing the structure of the property. It does need preparing by a Geometra - obtain a quote from the Geometra for preparing the SCIAA – this is then presented to the local Comune for approval - there is a contribution payable to the Comune - "Oneri Concessori" usually 5% of the total cost of the work. The Geometra follows the work through the process (effectively the role of Building Inspector in the UK) signs it off at stages and communicates to the Comune, who may send out their Technical Officer. When the work is completed the Geometra communicates this to the Comune.

  • Full Project: required for all work that includes demolition of walls and rebuilding, re-placing the roof, major structural changes etc. Again obtain a quote from the Geometra. Time taken at the planning stage of the proceedings is well spent to ensure everything is as required. Italy has the reputation that you can get away with anything, unfortunately this is not so and if the correct planning permissions are not gained it will be impossible to resell your property because the correct documentation is not available

Charges made by Geometri are regulated by the Official Association of Geometri.
It is always a good idea to use local professionals bearing in mind that they live and work in the area, are familiar with local legislation as well as national laws and have good working relationships with other professionals that may be required.
Once you are happy with the plans the Geometra produces a Computo Metrico, which can be given to various tradespeople to obtain quotes for the work.


Includes builders, electricians, plumbers etc. Locating them could be a daunting task, particularly if you don’t speak the language. Generally, we have found that the building standards in Italy are very good - some people consider bringing people from their own country to do the work mainly for ease of communication and similar ideas, but this is often not the best way as they are unfamiliar with local laws, procedures and materials and may not be able to communicate with your Geometra, who has overall responsibility for the project.

The Geometra will be able to tell you if quotes on the Computo Metrico are realistic and he will make the necessary checks on the companies on your behalf – this is part of his role and responsibilities to you as his client.

Registered reputable builders will provide a Contract of Work so ensure you understand before signing and ask if you are not sure.

With regard to the builder there are a few basic points to consider:

  • Ask if he has done this kind of work before

  • If you go to see a site he is working on – is it tidy and well ordered,

  • Are the workmen working efficiently, do they keep regular hours and are they his regular team (using casual labour can incur a fine for you if something goes wrong)

  • Look for quality not cheapness

  • Look at things like – are tiles level, grouting even, walls straight.

Throughout the Process.

Points to consider:

  •  Keep your own records / notes on meetings –highlight important points/ dates for completion of stages

  •  Make notes of what you want to say at meetings

  •  Record information like paint colours, position of sockets, light fittings etc. – you can always use a diagram to avoid confusion

  •  Ask for photos of progress if you can’t visit often

  • Visits in the later stages are important when the finishing touches are required


    Once the work is complete ensure you are completely happy with everything before you make any final payments. The Geometra will need to sign off the work and complete the necessary documentation for the Comune. In turn you will need all Certificates of Conformity from the respective tradespeople from which the Comune will produce il Certificato di Agibilita`, which means that your property is in a habitable condition.


  • Now it’s time to RELAX & ENJOY!!

    As Calabria Property Services we offer a complete Project Management Service to assist you with the renovation of your property. The advantage that we have is because we live in Calabria, over the years we have gained a large amount of experience, built up extensive local knowledge and a network of reliable and trustworthy professionals, whom we feel will provide you with a high standard of service and the property of your dreams.
    We can arrange meetings with the relevant professionals and will accompany you to assist with translation and offer advice. We will go through and discuss plans and quotes with you and ensure that any changes are clearly relayed to the relevant people before documents are signed and any work goes ahead. During the work we will visit the site, keep you updated with photos and reports, co-ordinate and liaise with all relevant parties and on completion ensure all paperwork reaches the correct people.