Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sotto Le Stelle 02 - The Notario and The Builder

Puglia, Italy. Saturday 17-November-2012.

Completing the sale and taking ownership of our Cisternino apartment.

Plan A had been a bit hectic: straight from airport to bank to collect bankers drafts before they closed for lunch, harvest our olives in the afternoon then down to Fasano to complete the purchase. However the Notario and the weather had other ideas. The Notario rescheduled the appointment to late Saturday afternoon and the weather was tipping it down. We still collected the cheques but went home for lunch, a siesta and a bit of packing up the house.

The next morning we had arranged access to the apartment to see it empty of furniture and meet with Pietro (our "man on the ground") and Saverio (our builder). Pietro is a very useful man to know. His wife works for D'Amico, the estate agents, and he has been acting as liaison with them and did the translation for both for this and our previous purchase. He also helps us with paying the local taxes and he will be acting as middleman in communicating with Saverio and organising local permits. He lives, literally, round the corner also in the old town and has experience of and ideas on renovating old properties.

Pietro (translator / local agent), Saverio (builder) and Mary discuss options
Pietro, Saverio and Mary discuss walls

The roof terrace will be an important component of the apartment. There will, of course, be a barbecue up there. Plans include a cloth canopy or sail to provide shade - an umbrella would too risky, the danger of it blowing over the edge and falling on a passerby is too great. We want to have a solar panel to provide hot water to supplement the heating. It will probably go where Pietro is standing, facing that way, out of the way and not visible from down in the street. When Saverio starts work the roof will be the very first thing he tackles re-grouting the tiles and making sure all is watertight below, "start at the top and work down" is his motto.

Our terrace on the second floor
Mary and Pietro on the roof terrace

The initial plan for the interior in simple - strip all the plaster, sandblast the stone clean, make good any essential repairs and then stop and think. There are so many possibilities, we want to do it only once and we want to do it right.

What I hadn't reckoned on, but it's obvious looking back, is getting the exterior done. The front wall in particular is looking a bit sad so we will be having both front and back walls cleaned and redecorated. That will involve scaffolding and disruption in the narrow, one-way street outside. Even worse when we have a skip delivered to clear out the rubble from the interior works. That will mean closing the road completely for half a day.

This will be our kitchen / diner
Soggiorno (Living room)

It was great to see the inside clear of all the heavy, dark furniture but it is still not that huge - 32 m2 in total. There was one surprise which pleases me - our very own well. The small cupboard to the right of the door-like cupboard actually has a pulley to lower a bucket down to a cistern under the building. In the 1700's when the building was constructed there was no such thing as mains water so each building needed its own water supply. How cool it that?

The afternoon was spend picking olives, see: Olive Harvest 2012.

Late afternoon we all went down to the office of the Notario in Fasano, When I say "all" I mean the two of us, all three vendors, Mr Damico (estate agent) and Pietro (translator). At the office we were joined by Laura (witness). So very different from UK conveyancing where it is possible for none of the parties to ever meet in person. It would appear that all sitting together round a table is the norm in Italy.

The Notario read out the entire contract with all present confirming their identity. This was repeated in English by Pietro, with Laura as bilingual witness to confirm his translation. Everyone had to sign every single page of the contract which took some time. We then exchanged cheques for keys and the deed was done.

Sunday morning we changed the lock as a matter of prudence. Lunchtime we showed our friends round, opened a bottle of champange (not prosecco) and went for a celebratory lunch at Osteria di Sant' Anna.

The next trip out is planned for February to see the interior with all the stonework exposed and discuss the next steps. By then we might have firmed up on the floor plan but there will still be many decisions to be made.

Some photos on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/markmclellan/sets/72157632052591805/detail/

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