Demolishing/rebuilding v renovation

09/17/2010 - 10:28

Well I know this has probably been covered before but this is new to me. Looking at properties in Le Marche and Umbria, many are in very poor condition and I suspect that, to renovate properly and to comply with anti-seismic standards, it's a tricky and expensive job for builders.  So the alternative is to buy what is probably already a ruin, demolish it and then use the materials to build a new house from scratch on the same footprint or close to it. Has anyone done this? I'm thinking of perhaps 300 sq.m and adding in some bought-in architectural elements, old floor tiles etc to give as close a feel to the original as possible.  What did it cost and how does this compare with a renovation route where walls are retained and floors and roofs taken up and then relaid.  Is it more likely to get a fixed price from the builder on a rebuild? And lastly what about resale value? Are there noticeable differences.  I suppose again it's personal taste. Any comments gratefully received,  Robin



we did it the slow and very expensive way ie. total renovation.mainly because large tracts of the building were sound otherwise there would have been no question and we would have gone for new build. Techniques today are such that a new build especially where old materials are integrated can look absolutely fine.The benefits can be can have new state of the art insulation,absolute sismic proof foundations and shell for the building, better ad hoc disposition of spaces and rooms,logical electric/water heating systems etc. given that the ball park figure for restoration to builders finish on a place the size of yours would be probably not less than  Euro 450.000,00 before the rest.I think you would save significantly on a new build.Don't let people convince you just because there are some pleasant niches in the old building that you've got to "save" them you can get builders to make a new crooked niche if you can't do without!

others will differ in what they say but to my mind its almost a no brainer.. traditional looking restorations as a finished project will cost you in the region of 2000 euro per m sq, thats including fees and planning say and you are looking at 600,000 for your building..  new builds around 1500  renovative restructuring work obviously less.. eg a new roof to todays modern insulation and regulations on structure around 1700 per sq m .. my 2000 euro per m sq is conservative as regards an estimate and  i would not be led down that path by lower quotes which will leave out many of the extras.. like tiles and wiring, fees and planning permits and outside finishing work.. and then add in the initial ground works.. plus buying the ruin.. re returns.. what you will pay and what you will get back if you sold it have no relationship as you will pay a lot for this sort of work and the prices will depend on its location re cities and or sea.. ie building land or land with old buildings on will cost you a lot in prime locations.. if you are buying a farm house ruin in a non prime location ie.. not within a couple of km of the coast or a major city.. you will most probably never get back in your life time what you put into a long way fixed prices..  a joke here... there are always clauses for extra ordinary work which was not taken into account when the quote was made.. my prices might well be a bit low due to newer building regulations re insulation and thermal efficiency          

As adriatica suggests, whichever route you go you are unlikely to make your money back!  I'd say you will have a much better chance of re-selling a new build (looking traditional) to an Italian, than selling a restoration job, but if it is to appeal at all to an Italian it has to be in a 'convenient' location, (with schools and work nearby.) A new build, as sebastiano says, will also be a much more comfortable place to live in. In theory you should be able to get closer to a 'fixed price' on new build, but avoiding nasty surprises depends on you and your geometra being very precise when writing up (and understanding) the computo metrico, the equivalent of a bill of quantities.

I've got to say that I completely agree with the comments of sebastiano, adriatica and fillide. Many people after spending large sums of money on a renovation project are in denial of the resale value. Not because the renovation was done badly but because the relative isolation of many of these properties makes them unattractive to the wider (Italian) market. This may offend some people on here as well (and I apologise in advance) but ask yourself why a ruin became a ruin in the first place.

Agree with the good advice, our farmhouse was restored and livable, but what was intended to be a renovation of outbuildings to realise an apartment , turned into a nightmare of a total restoration. It gave us a much better build in the end and thanks to the efforts of geomatra and architect did not come in at much more cost. But I believe we were the exception to the rule.

I also agree with all the good advice above.  If at all possible I would recommend the approach taken by Angie & Robert, i.e. buy somewhere already restored (we did the same). I think an interesting question potential buyers would do well to ask themselves is "Were this 'ruin' in the UK, would I buy it and take on its restoration/rebuilding?".  If the answer is anything but an unhesitant YES, then consider that there will be the additional problems of laws that you do not know, building methods with which you are completely unfamiliar, tradesmen you don't know and language issues (and how these could be (ab)used by the unscrupulous!) - plus you may or may not be on site for the work. IMHO restoration is a game best played by those with good nerves and deep pockets.  Just my 2c worth, maybe I'm just a skinflint coward.

In reply to by Penny

  That's all - very helpful all and I think it's an important point to realise who might be the potential buyers when one finally comes to sell - clearly Italian buyers are more numerous but they will be looking for something quite different from the far fewer numbers of British retirees or those looking for holiday houses. I will keep on looking and have to work out the figures based on any specific property we see Robin

Any of us that get a home in Italy are, lets face it, a little Romantic.    I have done both: the new build in the old style so we could have the Italian look and still have heating, insulation, showers, windows, AC that works and a partial restoration of our house in Falerone.  Objectively, restoring makes little sense but I know that restoring a ruin is a delight.  Seeing something rise from the ashes, mending it and then sitting in front of the fire, is just joy.  Sure, Italians may not like the houses we choose but we have different priorities: we like a little isolation, we see charming where they just see old-fashioned.  We want to be greener and value different things.  if this weren't true, we'd all be buying those horrid little linked houses or living in a block.  My own dream is to buy a palazzo in Fermo and make it wonderful again. Coming back to your plans and dreams, I think that, if you can afford 300 000 you can have a nicely restored small house and for 400 000 you can have a nicely restored big house.  Our part restored house had a new roof, windows, foundations and pointing and we didn't spend a fortune on getting those bits done.  Once those structural things are done then it's all fairly predictable.  There are good places around 150k that would be worth mending and many of the best view plots (although of course not all) are occupied by older houses You need trusted people and if you want some names I can give these to you very easily.   F