Location is everything.
One has to have a good imagination when searching for a property to renovate. This particular palazzo was probably built around 1900, intended for basic housing for those who worked in the nearby quarries, excavating pietra serena, the local stone. The apartment is on the ground floor and lacks an outdoor space, but surrounding the building are parks and trails with amazing views of the valley to the north. There is a shared condominium terrace on the rear of the building.
A first visit to the property revealed two ample rooms with original cotto flooring and wooden beam ceilings, and nice light coming from the windows, in a quiet residential neighborhood. Down a very narrow hall at the end, there was a toilet room with a small window exposing the view of Tuscan hills. That was the extent of the bathroom. The neighboring “kitchen” had a built-in cooking area with a place for burning coal, a 2-burner gas cook top connected to a portable gas tank, and a cemented shower platform with crude plumbing to the right of the cooking area. There was never a gas line installed, so heating would have been by portable heaters or from the kitchen. It was pathetic. In fact, the previous owner said he stayed in the apartment for about a week and hoped to fix it up, but he never did. The place sat vacant for many years.
The main selling point of this property was the price and the location. The rest could be dealt with during reconstruction. With that vision in mind, an offer was made and accepted. There was just one major glitch — the property had a lien on it (in Italian, called an ipoteca). Not only that, but the lien was connected to another property the owner had and both needed to be sold for either sale agreement could be completed. The agency was obligated to inform the buyer of this situation only once an offer was made. At that point, the buyer could have backed out, but decided to accept the circumstances because she wanted the property. The lien will be abolished from the property records within an agreed upon date. Note that home inspection is not typically officially done in Italy, and it’s anyone’s guess what surprises might be lurking in the structure until demolition begins.
After many months of waiting, meetings, and agreements between the lawyers, the notaio (the legal notary who solidifies the contract agreement), the real estate agent, the seller, the 2 buyers (of each property), and the creditors who were owed the money, the sale of the property was finally formalized at the courthouse only in April – a full 9 months from the first property visit. Three months later, after architectural drawings were completed, and permits were acquired, construction finally began.