The property market in Italy is seeing more and more houses being bought for refurbishment. While it is true that there have been still more new build homes in the last decade, they are far fewer in number than the number of older homes on the market. And then we know that Italy is rich in history and has many prestigious, or characteristic traditional buildings which, once restored, become real jewels.

Where are they? Mainly in the historical centres of large cities, in fortified hill top towns and, in the case of country houses, out in the country, of course.

This is a common trend in recent times, as much on the part of Italians as foreigners who buy a house in Italy and really fall in love with these charming old houses, unique of their kind, whether in brick or stone.

Checks and costs

When you decide to buy a house to do up, however, you need to take into consideration a number of factors including the actual condition of the house and a number of little details which add value to it. In fact it is useful to already have an idea of the works that will need to be done and the cost, so you can better evaluate the purchase price. It is also better to be on the safe side and know what you’re in for.

So, when you buy a building to do up you need to calculate the cost of the works to be done. These can vary greatly from one situation to another, according to the level of finish you want and the standard of materials you use. But even average costs can also vary according to geographical area and the city where the building is located.

The cost of refurbishing a building in Italy is calculated in terms of euros per square metre and in the city of Venice, for example, this can be as high as 1,400 euros and in Bari around 1,300 euros.

But it is also true that the purchase of a new building incurs a higher original cost, especially in central Italy, where a new house costs around an extra 400 euros per square metre, while in southern Italy the prices remain lower.

Refurbishments with fewer restrictions

Want to buy a house to do up in Italy? It is a good time to do it because prices have fallen and so there are more properties available, but also because the government has introduced legislation to make things easier. A recent piece of legislation ‘Sblocca Italia’ contains a number of new clauses concerning the property market, including some streamlining of processes involved in refurbishment: this will make it both faster and less costly.

Maintenance works and small changes in the future will only require that a Cil (Communicazione di inizio lavori – Communication of commencement of works) be sent to the local Comune, carrying the approval of a technical professional such as a building designer/draughtsman (‘geometra’, in Italian) or an architect.

There is an important development regarding the dividing of buildings, or knocking through of one building into another. Dividing one building into two separate ones (frazionamento) or vice versa, removing common walls between two adjacent dwellings (accorpamento), now come under the same category as ordinary maintenance. If the overall square footage of the building does not alter, and there is no change to the main structure or change of use then the supply of the Cil to the Comune is sufficient. It is your responsibility to declare that the works to be carried out will not damage the common parts of the building, and will respect building regulations. Thanks to this change in legislation, dividing houses into smaller units, or amalgamating them into larger spaces, like extraordinary maintenance, will all be much easier and cheaper, as long as building volumes do not change. It will no longer be necessary to obtain a building permit (so avoiding the long waiting times) or pay the hefty fees that were involved.

Watch out though: the law requires that the Comune be sent the plans and that the architect or designer, as well as certifying that the plans conform to planning laws and building regs, also certifies that they comply both with seismic requirements and the energy performance of the building. Moreover, the fine for failure to present the Cil has risen steeply from 258 euros to 1,000 euros.

Now that everything is a bit easier, don’t loose your time and start searching for your place in Italy to be restored now!

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