Hi everyone /new to site,Just bought house in Abruzzo

09/07/2010 - 18:51

Need advice on cost of renovation of roof/house is old farmhouse 120sqm/geometra says it needs new insulation to be bring it up to modern building standards.Also blasting of old plaster on exterior to reveal old stonework.Can anyone help?



Hi, Welcome to the site. You should take a look at the predecessor to this site, (http://www.italymag.co.uk/forums/), which had quite a detailed exchange about the pros and cons of sand-blasting. Much of that discussion was about interior plasterwork, but issues about the materials below being damaged by sand-blasting may be common to your plans. Also, a lot in there on insulation. I thought the old site had a lot more in the way of building techno info than this one, but then this site hasn't been running nearly as long....

Oh dear! Personally I would not allow anyone with a sand blasting machine near the stone. Stone in Abruzzo is usually a honey coloured sandstone, sometimes with little fossils in it.It's very soft and is subject to decay. If it was Cornish granite you could sandblast the life out of it and no harm would occur but you need to be really careful here. Your roof will need insulation and if the builders to want to lightly sand-blast the under-roof tiles then that should  be ok!We did have ours done because to do them by hand is really time-consuming. Cost should be about 10,000 euros or about but if there are problems it may be more!   good luck    

You could use either aluminium oxide grit or glass beads to clean your limestone without any serious issues with damage. Sand would, I suspect, be too course and aggressive for your stone though, so be careful if you use it. You will find the best people to talk to locally would be the marble and stone yard - marmisti - who will know tradespeople able to help you with your problem.

Discussing sandblasting is fiddling while Rome burns! Complying with (relatively recently introduced) thermal requirements is another thing altogether. If your house is rendered (plastered) externally at the moment, nobody can REQUIRE you to strip it back to stone. The comune might say we would PREFER you to strip it back to stone (and might allow you to do other things if you comply with their REQUEST), but this is an aesthetic issue which has nothing to do with thermal performane. The trouble is, that for (even building professional Brits), the mindset that 'planning' and 'building regulations' are separate entities is entrenched, and it is understandably difficult to comprehend that they are 'all in one' here in Italy. Much the most difficult (financially, and in a restoration also practically without destroying some part of the aesthetic) to comply with here in Italy are the thermal performance requirements of a restoration. But because most geometras have the mindset that it is 'all of a whole' they do (in my experience) find it very difficult to explain to a (British) client exactly on what legislation they are basing their opinion. It's a bind, because with even the cleverest translator (unless they happen to be also qualified as an architect or geometra, better still a quantity surveyor!) explanations get lost in translation and lead to complete confusion.

Ah, Fillide. If only life were as simple as letting Rome burn. There were two questions in the original post, which you seem to have not spotted. The second question - the one about "blasting of old plaster on exterior to reveal old stonework" - was the one that I, an Italian by the way, and myabruzzohome answered. Maybe you were looking at a different bulletin board at that moment though, so were distracted? Confusions aside, the point you make about getting muddled up about the differences in how things work here by British immigrants is common and often seen on these types of bulletin boards - which is why I try to point people to local professionals rather than British products and people. Fair enough if you have a holiday home and you want to fly the Union Jack on the front lawn but not so clever if you have a limited budget and like Italy and all things Italian (as this website claims). Now to basics. You know what a DIA is, I take it Fillide? And you know that you need to get a permission to build for new works and  major changes? Well, they are not the same thing. The DIA is merely an advisement to the comune of works you intend to do that fall under the local requirements outside of a building permit. Local, note, not national. The differnce is important because the rules in Pisa are not the same as in Roma or Firenza, or even in Palermo. This makes the supposed British  "mindset that 'planning' and 'building regulations' are separate entities" actually surprisingly close to the realities of life here in Italy, with the two completely separate functions of the Denuncia di Inizio Attività and the Permesso di Costruire. The best way around this is to always involve Italian professionals with local knowledge who are aware of any changes of the law - both local and national - before starting a project. Any problems you may have with translation are  problems you must find ways to deal with at a very early stage of your life here as any language problem is going to keep recurring until you learn to speak Italian. You just have to deal with it, not avoid it. This is Italy. That is England. It's your choice in the end.

I'm a charitably minded person, so I do hope you did not intend to be deliberately offensive. The OP (which intends the Original Poster) asked about two things - the removal of external render, and insulating the roof. Various people who post on this 'board' are more than capable of boring for England on the subject of 'sandblasting' (personally I would reccommend a pneumatic hammer if you have a serious amount of cement render to eliminate) - but very few could offer an expert opinion on the options for insulating a roof. And options there are - but you probably haven't got a clue 'Beeryspice', which is also a peculiar choice of username for an Italian? N'est ce pas?

Ciao beerspice. Mi scusi ma non capisco ciò che vuole dire. I don't understand you very much. Fillide non riesce a capire le istruzioni? what is blasting of old plaster can you to explaine to me. potrebbe per favore aiutami in italiano.

Welcome to the community. Very best wishes with your project and I hope you have good experiences with professionals living and working in Atessa. Unfortunately we had very bad ones, especially with a geometra, despite my husband being from Atessa originally and still having many contacts. There are good people out there and maybe you will have seen the recent post from Anna7 who recommends a geometra from Lanciano.

Thanks Abruzzese for your good wishes.We are also useing a local  geometra but he is very honest and we feel very happy with him.Now you have put doubt in our minds,are you able to say his name on this forum?If not then just his initials.

In reply to by atessa

"Now you have put doubt in our minds,are you able to say his name on this forum?If not then just his initials." This would best be dealt with using the PM facility

In reply to by atessa

Private Messages can easily be sent [just like an email]   Click on the name of the poster [submitted by XXXXX] to bring up his/her Profile Click on the Contact tab Write the message and click send When you get a message sent to you - a number [1 for 1 m2ssage, 2 for 2 etc] appears after the All messages in the Private Messages box on the right hand side of the webpage   I'll send you a PM to demonstrate

Removing old render

  • Your geometra should be able to advise on what works best for your house's type of walls
    • I'd prefer chipping it off - using a bolster or pneumatic 'scabbler' - but the geometra should know what to do - which may be sandblasting [very very messy]
    • don't forget to allow for repointing all the stonework joints after stripping off the plaster [which is probably cement anyway]


  • Lots of ways of improving insulation of the house
    • external insulating render - you seem to not want that - but if the walls are in poor condition when exposed you might reconsider
    • double glazing [obvious]
    • insulate roof - either
      • above the ceiling - rockwool etc
      • underneath the roof tiles - sprayed insulation or insulation 'batts'
      • below the ceiling  - with insulated plasterboard - if you have ceiling height to do this
    • Insulate the walls internally - insulated plasterboard - end up with smaller rooms]
    • draught proof everything [obvious]

  Good luck

first roof work there are new thermal value legislation laws which have come in and if you have to re roof a house now all work that is carried out has to add in the requirements of today to allow the work to get permmision.. to me it makes good long term sense to have a roof insulated to a degree that will permit you to reduce long term costs re heating and or cooling, each year the fence is moved and each year values that are required become more stringent so often old forum advice can be misleading and or out of date its one of the major problems for people buying here because every year the rules and legislation move on and restoration or interventions become more expensive and its a good idea to consider if you can afford to pay more at the start to find a habitable property that does not require intervention and that each phase of the changes you might like to make can be spaced and afforded over a longer period, for example with building interventions as the rules change if you buy a property which is habitable you are pretty well exempt from any of the stricter regulations until you feel you can afford to do work or even want to.. downside is you might well be living there when the builders are in..  upside .. you might well find that you can accept the property as it is and save yourselves a fortune the other question about how to get back to stone is much more complicated than in my mind has been gone into here, should you start this sort of work or have a mind to investigate further there are several important factors to consider,  without a survey the immediate problem is that a building might not be considered  stable enough or in an area of high risk re either water or earth movement that should you start work the result will be that the building is required to have by law a steel cage fitted and cased in concrete before it is allowed to be inhabited and you might well find that you have no choice on avoiding that solution unless you are prepared to drop the building to the ground and rebuild from new foundations up.. thats the worst scenario.. other interventions might include new ring beams around top and intermediate floors, to hold the house together or even deep under wall foundations and security measures to maintain the buildings integrity, so sand blasting is only to me a solution if the plaster on the property is not a cement based render that is very fixed to the wall, and that as someone said before the first option is to remove the bulk of the material by hand , the sandblasting is basically to remove last remnants and to clean stone    each year here rules and regulations are added to under the rules of not only building safety regulations but building efficiency as regards energy use, work that could have been carried out as remedial  work in the past is not quite as easy now although before you buy no one will tell you that, but new legislation regarding the level of insulation are now almost fully in place and work that was at one time simple is now covered by a myriad of new legislation and standards..   you will find that most of this is with-held information when talking with house selling people and generally rarely available in English, so quite hard to keep up with, even less forthcoming if the property you are buying is via a geometra or an agency that is offering to restore a building for you as regards real costs and new laws, obvious i suppose,  my sympathy as regards conflicting views, your success is i believe more to do with finding an honest and helpful local building company with a geomtra of the same ilk and start getting a few ideas and quote .. hopefully the property you bought requires no immediate intervention and you can take your time, although if it does not have the necessary permission to allow it to be lived in i guess you are pretty well stuck on having to do work before you can move in , and in that case you have my sympathy and wishes of good luck with it all 

The house is old with no modern facilities but the structure is sound and roof in good condition.The geometra has sent plans with the DIA document that you stated and he told us that he would put a modern type of insulation( which is not seen) under the outer cotto tiles,when he does the restoration.He showed us this type of insulation in a roof he had just completed,it was quite cool under the roof space,on what was a very hot day.So again Adriatica what you have said about up to date building standards seems to be what my geometra is doing for me and then gaining the proper final certificates.    The external plaster needs to be removed because of damp/water penetration between it and the stone and because of its removal we will keep the stonework visible. Thanks for your good up to date information.