We are thinking of buying a small place

ulysses Image
06/24/2014 - 08:38

We are thinking of buying a small place ( max budget 100,000 euros) in Northern Tuscany. We have visited all the usual places over the past 10 years in Southern Tuscany like Florence, Siena, Livorno, Radda in Chianti etc etc and budget obviously won't extend  ( please tell me if I am wrong). We want a modest house, 2 beds is fine, not too remote and no apartments / shared ownership.We are thinking of going on a research trip to Northern Tuscany this summer. Anyone have a place there? If so can you give us an honest heads up on the region? Anywhere to avoid?Does anyone have a place to sell or to rent within our budget? Our local airport flies to Pisa, so this region makes sense for accessibiity. I know there are other areas which are great value but we want to concentrate our search here. 



Not looked for a while in that area as property there was simply too expensive for what you were getting. Again a quick look here http://www.rightmove.co.uk/overseas-property-for-sale/Tuscany.html?sortType=2&minPrice=70000&maxPrice=100000&currencyCode=GBP indicates that not a lot has changed. But I half suspect that is not the case as prices in Italy have fallen dramatically and you may find what is being asked is far, far away from what will be accepted. Still think you might struggle on your budget to find somewhere to move in to. Please tell us you are not looking to do a place up cheaply?Passed through from Pisa going North a couple of times, but don't know the area that well. Others here will tell you it's the best place in Italy, it's not quite the case... It is nice, but at least look at other areas (countries - well yes neither would we) to compare what you are getting.Don't forget planes change airports often, so have plan "B"!  Good luck

Hi Ulysses.  We have visited the area a lot over the years as my family came from Zeri.  We keep looking but property prices (for where we would like to live) are out of our range.  Zeri is in the middle of the mountains which we can afford but I can't stand the drive up there as the roads are bad and the drops horrendous!!  We live by the sea here and that's what we would like there but I'm beginning to think we will never do it.  The Garfagna area is cheaper but again is high up and the winter weather is pretty bleak hence a lot of Scots live there.  There are a couple of people who live  around the area on here so sure they will be along soon and give you some good pointers.  Good luck. Joy

Hi Ulysses! I certainly agree with you, it will be impossible to find anything suitable within that budget in Southern Tuscany. On the other hand, you may be able to find a small "terratetto" or townhouse in the Val di Lima-Serchio-Garfagnana area in Northern Tuscany. We bought a place in Bagni di Lucca some seven years ago and we simply love it! We are only 25 minutes away from Lucca capital, less than an hour away from from Pisa airport and Florence, the Chianti region, the Versilia and even the Cinque Terre, Lake Trasimeno, or Bologna are day trips for us. We generally drive, but there are buses and trains available as well. Property prices are more than reasonable right now. You will be able to find some information here, under "Properties", but I will give you some names of well known Real Estate agents in the area and I am certain that if you search those names, you will be able to find listings. These include: Case e Ville (Casa Tuscany) Bagni di Lucca, Toscana Verde (also at Bagni), Villatua, The Italian Property Gallery and Geocasanet. For general information on the area I recommend you to have a look at a great blog www.bellabagnidilucca.com as it has also won an Italymag award. The same author, Debra Kolkka, who is a fellow member, has another very interesting blog called Bagni di Lucca and Beyond" and you will find plenty of information there. And if you have more questions... just ask. Good luck and best wishes!

Thanks for the invaluable info, I'm trying to research as we speak. Steve ( another responder) quite rightly pointed out that it's a buyers market in italy at the moment.Generally speaking, how much under an asking price is one expected to go ( I know it sounds like a silly question). I'm going to take a look at the Real Estate agents you kindly provided, thanks so much! Very positive! 

Hi again, Ulysses. Glad to help. It is very difficult to say how  "negotiable" the price of a property can be. It depends on the particular property, its owner... a multitude of factors. You can know whether a rebate would be envisaged whenever the agent states that a price is  "negotiable" or it is an "urgent sale". The agent may be able to guide you, but always offer a bit less than what the agent says. You can always negotiate upwards at a later stage. Try to find something habitable straight away and avoid properties that need renovations, as these can be pretty expensive. Keep in mind some basic needs, accessibility, general condition of the property and location, location, location. Always remember that an isolated place may look idyllic...until you have to live totally isolated. Use common sense, it always helps. Good luck! smiley

I don't think much has changed (except in your favour) - 30%Some properties I've looked at today because of your post and another were on the market when we were looking over 6 years ago. One I looked at (and viewed 4 years back) is at least 50% over priced!

I think you are pushing it with your Budget, people still seem to think houses are and should be cheap here!Since the cost of Living and the Euro this is not the case.So many People seem to think they can buy somewhere €100.000 and renovate or partial 'Do it up'....you will spend another €100.000, so buy somewhere already completed or just needs a small revamp as you would do in the UK.Itailan tradesmen are expensive, some are even expensive and very poor workmen or even rip off merchants...we have seen it some many times especially around the Bagni di Lucca and through personal experience through Friends.

UlyssesUlyssesUlysses,You might have a look at Fivizzano and environs. Has a fair amount of facilities, including a hospital, pharmacy, small market, train depot, several bars, restaurants, an ice cream parlor for the young ones, two English language "libraries," and is 30-40 minutes from the autostrada at Aulla on a well maintained "highway.'Have noted several habitable homes in the E100,000 range on the Lunigiana2000 price list.We do not live there, (we are about 45 minutes away), however visit weekly to exchange books at the Elvetica Bar and "English library."

ulysses,We have a house in the Garfagnana region and really love it. The area provides great walking for me in the mountains and then the villages and valleys keep the family happy!We have found the locals both friendly and very helpful, but echo a previous comment about the cost of building work etc it is pricey! I also find DIY materials far more costly than the UK.I think if you look carefully you would find a property for e100k but you would be in a mountain village in most cases. We love that but it is not everyones ideal.We bought in 2007 and used Benito at "housesintuscany.net" and found him extremely helpful. The website usually has a good selection of property on it. Good luck!

In reply to by David

Thanks David, we are looking for somewhere small but defintately habitable so don't want anything to restore. Just a small modest place as a base. Thanks everyone else for their responses too! 

Well, certainly throughout the EU labour costs are more expensive than in other parts of the world, say Thailand , which you seem to know very well, but to generalize and say that they are exhorbitant, particularly in an area, is an exaggeration which does not help anyone. As general advice, if you need to do renovations, both in Italy or anywhere, have proper plans and specifications prepared by professionals and then get three different quotes from builders and this will give you a clear picture of the final cost of the project. 

Get the work done with the help of so called "professionals" is also a biased opinion and one that could cost you double the value of any work! Yes some work may require a specific professional, but you are then in the situation where you have to not only find a good and trustworthy builder, but also a "professional". Many a good builder will know more than these people, and if they are unsure or there is a legal requirement, then a good builder will tell you that someone else is needed.

Yes, I must say that 'Gala Placidia' does tent to live in a bit of a different World.We had some local 'Reccommended' workmen in the Bagni di Lucca area who turned out to be a very poor standard.....had to tell them to go and walk and finished the job myself.Also, our friends had a local geometra who turned out to be an absolute 'Sham' merchant, he did the drawings and said they had been passed, by this time they had paid him €5000. He then asked for more money to take the job further.They became a bit suspicious and took the drawing to the Commune, they scanned the drawing Barcode, which did not register...turned out it was not an official barcode and the drawing was not registerd.The Commune did not seem to want to do anything about, so they had to employ another Geometra who said he would have to re apply the application.They basically lost the €5000 Gala Placidia

Hello Brianweve just had the same.  Our roof plans were supposed to have been passed - they hadn't .  The Gemotra was a nightmare and when he began the roof (without the correct permissions) he had the rainwater meeting in the middle.  Don't know if it was bad workmen or the Gemotra but it was a mess, so we had to pull them off and start again with a new company and builder, they've done a great job.no-one seems to care that money is taken in that area, especially cash in hand which we now know is illegal.  Also the IMUs have more than doubled so we are paying more than €2,000 per year.  I'm learning all the time and we have noticed a few items go missing and broken glass in our window, that's the trouble if we've upset the builders in the area, although we did use another local one.  Could be accidental, I hope so as we love the house and the area.

Steve, yet another one of your usual rantings against knowledgeable and educated people which you seem to resent for some obscure reasons. What you say is misleading as most renovations in Italy will require plans and specifications signed by either a geometra or an architect. o engage professionals will cost you their fees, but in most cases can save you money because of their knowledge. To say that a tradesman will have more knowledge than say an architect with 6 years of formal education and professional experience only shows ignorance. And professionals, at least most, can save you money and give you relevant advice that may reduce the final cost of a project I doubt very much that you would recommend to see your local nurse if you need a heart transplant. My opinions on this subject are not "biased" as you state, as I would not derive any benefit from them. They are based on local knowledge and experience. If you want to imply that because I am married to a retired architect your claim is absurd, simply because we do not make any money out of it, on the contrary, we have used the services of local geometras, architect, builder and tradesmen.

Totally agree. If the advice to DIY or use unregistered labour the work will not be legal and a) can be stopped by the police b) may not satisfy safety standards and c) make the propertyunsaleable as the new work will not match what is officially verified and d) will have no guarantees of quality..
My advice is to look at several geometras, structural engineers and architects work and ask to see property they have worked on and speak to the owners. We did this and used a structural engineeer and fantastic tradesmen. It wasn't cheap but I think some people on this site have a completely pie in the sky view of what their money will buy them. Even if you are looking in a cheap region like Abruzzo the cost of renovation will not be much different to Toscano but the resale value will. Finding a two bedroom casa independente requiring no work and immediately habitable for 100,000 euros is extremely unlikey anywhere especially in Toscano. I had some guests last year who had a total budget of 400,000 euros which sounded a lot until I found out that that included all buying costs, furniture, a car and a contingency fund and they wanted a fully restored detached farmhouse in brick or stone with great views, South facing, minimum 3 beds, 2 baths and a study and an olive grove, a vineyard and a swimming pool with good access, not isolated, fast internet connection, excellent views, new kichen and bathrooms and close to nice village with good ristorante. They were a bit upset when I told them they would need at least double the money for all their wish list.but did not want to compromise. I think they will also still be looking in ten years time.

Brianm, we have had a totally different experience, which does not mean we "live in a different world" . Perhaps we made the right choices. And I really wonder how you got all the relevant work certifications if the registered tradesmen did not complete their interventions. As for your friends, I am sorry that they had to go through this experience; however, this is a clear fraud and they should report the culprit to the relevant Professional Institute (who would be delighted to know about this) and even the Police. It is certain that Council will not be directly involved; however, they will certainly give your friend a letter or document stating that the barcode on the plans is not theirs and this should greatly assist the prosecution of the case. Your friend needs to see a lawyer. There is no need for them to loose that money.

GalaThe relevant certificates were obtained, as I previously stated due to the fact our Friends had to engage a new Geometra and trades people.Also, I sorry but I have to parse comment on your Statement regarding Professionals and trades people.What an insult to trades people, some of whom will have served an apprenticeship or other official training and will have had more 'hands on Knowlege'I'm a retired Design Engineer and would never assume as you have in your statement.Through my profession and dealing with the occasional Architect, I have quite often found that they think they piss 'Eau de Cologne'  and are 'aloof' with their attitude towards the Trades people.This especially so in Italy with their job hierarchy and Management......I've worked here, so I do know!

Brian, I can only say that you are turning this into a personal attack (same with Steve, but I do know his "style"), as I have never insulted trades people. In my message addressed to Steve and his remarks, I have simply said that  "To say that a tradesman will have more knowledge than say an architect with 6 years of formal education and professional experience only shows ignorance" and this is a basic answer to his statement that would have been hilarious if it was not sad. By the same token, you seem to share his opinion, which is something surprising for someone who claims to be a professional Design Engineer... are you both related at all?On the other hand, you have generalized in your remarks regarding both tradespeople and professionals in the Bagni di Lucca area (not to mention architects in general who, according to your own words: "they piss Eau de Cologne and are "aloof" with their attitude towards the trades people", something which is derogatory and totally untrue). There are good and bad architects, geometras, design engineers and trades people all over the world and generalizing is not helpful. We have employed tradespeople all over the world in general and in Bagni di Lucca in particular and we never had a problem. We also have friends who have renovated or built houses in the area and we have never heard anything like your comments. I have already warned members about the high cost of renovations, not only in Tuscany but also throughout Italy and this was done in a constructive manner.  Brian, your previous statement regarding Bagni di Lucca Comune saying that they "did not seem to want to do anything about it", only shows total lack of knowledge about procedural matters. It would be important to clarify that this appears to be a private dispute between your friends and the geometra they engaged and the Comune will never intervene, because it is not their role. As far as they would be concerned, they have never seen those plans, because the barcode is not theirs. If your friends paid for all the "work" without seeing a proper work permit (not a plan with a barcode on it), it only shows that they acted in a foolish way. In any case, and as I said before, they should take the case to a lawyer to do all the necessary to recover their money and any compensation they may be entitled to. Also, you did not understand what I said regarding certificates, which was in relation to work you allegedly had to complete because of poor workmanship. Most installations require certificates which have to be completed and lodged with Council by the relevant accredited tradesman and this is part of the procedure you have to follow whenever you have a work permit, which is needed for most renovations. So I really do not understand how you managed all that having dismissed the tradesmen... Don't bother answering. I am not really interested in this. But your statements lack credibility.As I said before, this is not the kind of unbiased advice to members of this Community that we should all be giving and has finally turned into a personal attack. This will not be the first time anything like this takes place. Over more than 8 years, I have seen a very valuable Italymag Forum disappear, followed by the Community which has now been replaced by this Q & A. It looks as if we keep on seeing, through all the different formats, this type of negative, unjustified behaviour repeating itself. It is a real pity!And Ulysses, I do hope that this has not put you off coming to theVal di Lima/Garfagnana area. Most of us are very nice, helpful people wink   

Im vexed by the argument over good and bad builders but horrified by the cost of IMU (2000) i pay 400 euros for all my bills on a very modest appartment in the south of italy and this hasnt changed in eight years, i was planning a viewing trip of Luinigiana and Garfagnana is the north south divide really so excessive????

2000 euros for IMU is extorbitant. I pay 640 euros for a 4 bed 4 bath detached di lusso farmhouse with swimming pool and one and a half hectares of land It is a prima casa so would be double for a seconda casa. I also own a small village house in one of the borghi più belli on which I pay 500 euros as it is a seconda casa.
If it really is 2000 euros are you paying this through an intermediary who is charging a large commission ? I can only imagine paying this sort of amount for a house somewhere like the Amalfi coast of lake Como especially it it is a prima casa.

I think you have still not grasped the reply I gave to you.The Tradesmen were not dismissed because the job had not got to that stage yet, it had only got to the Geometra, his drawings and the application.The new geometra was engaged with the new drawings and with his workmen......that's how.Regarding generalisations as you put it, no one is generalising we are stating fact as it is. You seem to revolve in a certain group of Friends in Bagni with your contacts and perhaps do not realise how other Foreigner's are and have been ripped off.I have friends of several different Nationalities with house's here and all have some bad experiences. You perhaps do not know that Foreigners locally that need work carried out on their houses are refered to by some local trade's people as 'Suitcase's, as they think we have suitcase's full of money.This is not a generalisation as we also have had friends very happy with work carried out.I have read some of your previous posts and must say there seems to be an innocence and naivety in some of the posts. Italy has a reputation for being 'dodgy' at all levels, I think you need to wise up and smell the coffee.

I'm new to this forum but have found the advice very helpful.  It is true that there is a group of friends who know each other around BDL, and there is a miniscule whiff of self-importance to them, but thats all, nothing major.  In general i've found the blogs and forums very helpful indeed.BUT, I think its really important not to declaim, not to call people foolish or to suggest that they've been foolish on a public forum - we all make mistakes.  Thats going too far; all it will serve to to do is to get peoples backs up - we dont need that here, there's enough of that in everyday life.  Italy is wonderful on many levels, otherwise why would spend time there. BUT there are some serious issues with honesty and integrity in the way that some professionals and tradesmen operate; by the way I make no distinction between the two. There are some competent professionals and tradesmen, likewise there are some incompetent professionals and tradesmen, like everywhere else in the world.  I've listened to italians who freely admit that the norm is for a suitcase to be ripped off.  The previous owners of our house were percieved by the locals as suitcases, quite sad really.  They bought the house as ruin for €120k spent €250k on renovations (so spend so far €370k) and then sold it to us for a seriously lower price.  Now what gets me thinking is this - what sort of property market deteriorates to this extent, or is there another factor in play - dishonesty.  I've never seen anyhting like it, not even in the UK when prices tumbled.  It suggests to me that the previous owners were well and truly ripped off.  Either the house was not worth €120k and they were misled as to its true value or the renovations done were worth considerably less than €250k or both; either way the maths don't add up.  The only advice I would give anyone thinking of investing in property around BDL is please be careful.  Be prepared for a difficult and costly buying process.  Be careful not to need to sell your property as it may be difficult to re-sell.  As others have said, get plenty of quotes for any work done, and find out what permissions/plans etc are required and to whom they need to be submitted.  Other than that its a breeze, and if youre still solvent afterwards all the better!

In reply to by chris18

Chris, who has been telling you all those stories about BDL? You are listening to all the wrong people! Now, let me clarify some things for the benefit of other members.If the previous owners bought the ruin for 120,000 Euros, they made a mistake. A ruin, unless we are talking about something of historical/architectural interest, is only worth the value of the land it is sitting on. If anyone insists on doing such a thing, they may expect to pay at least double that amount on turning it into a habitable home. Many ruins will need underpinning, a most expensive procedure, and renovation costs largely depend on what the client wants. In many cases, it is preferable to demolish it and build it all over again.  Prices can quickly escalate if you do not know what you are doing and this does not necessarily mean that these people have been victims of dishonesty. If you build a "white elephant" you will never get back your money.Yes, on the other hand, property prices have gone down, not only in Italy but throughout the world and very few places have fully recovered. American members will quickly acknowledge this, if I mention the city of Detroit, where prices have collapsed to incredible levels. In Europe, Spain, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Latvia and many other places have seen huge reductions in the price of properties. Overall, Italy has not fared that bad. The main problems have been that there has been a reduction on the number of overseas buyers and Italians are not currently buying property. It is believed that we should see some positive changes in the market  towards the end of 2015, however, for people who need to sell, this is not a very favourable time.You can count yourself as "lucky" if you were able to buy a property in BDL at what I imagine would be a "bargain" price. This is a buyers market and I trust that you made a good buy. I do realize through some of your posts on another forum that you may have encountered some difficulties with matters related to the property (gas, TV), however, and without knowing the details, it is impossible to ascertain what really happened and I am sorry to hear that you had such a bad experience.Anyone buying a property, should be aware of current prices in the area and strictly buy accordingly. This ensures that, if anything goes wrong and you need to resell for whatever reason, you will not get your fingers caught.I do not know you personally, but to imply that " It is true that there is a group of friends who know each other around BDL, and there is a miniscule whiff of self-importance to them" is most unkind, prejudiced and clearly shows that you know nothing about many people who have close ties with our area and do everything to tell others about how great it is. If you prefer to listen to the wrong people and become as negative as they are...then, it is your choice. You should ask yourself why some people prefer to endure self-inflicted inferiority complexes when there is no reason for that, mainly because thay do not personally know the people they are talking about.Enjoy BDL and if you don't, move on. Life is short, you really have to feel happy about it. Otherwise, nothing is worthwhile! In any case, good luck!

A group of friends who know each other? And this is obnoxious? This is normally called networking.
I have no knowledge of BDL as I live in Le Marche and have done for the last ten years. I can, hand on heart, say I have never met with such kindness, helpfulness or hospitality in my native UK. The vast majority of self important jumped up nobodies are my fellow Brits which is why I prefer to socialise with Italains.

We have a small home in the Northern Tuscany village of Gravagna Montale.  There are many small villages in that area.  The closest "big" town in Pontremoli. we have owned our home for about 7 years and we visit once or twice a year.  Wonderful little village.  When we purchased our home the prices were very reasonable.  However, we have noticed that more Europeans are buying homes there and in the surrounding area and that may have made prices go up.  If you are thinking of buying a home, we would recommend that area, but hurry!  We hear George Clooney has bought a house in the area (much fancier than ours, I'm sure) so that may make prices jump.We have 2 very large bedrooms, a nice size kitchen and a living room.  Also a nice terrace overlooking the mountains, where we spend a lot of time.  The village still very much has the flavor of Old Italy...not at all touristy. It is still possible to buy a home in Italy at a fairly reasonable price...it just takes some looking.  And you might have to go over there to really find it.....the internet is probably not your best bet.  We bought our place directly from the family that had inherited it and they even left us the furniture AND invited us to their home for dinner! We absolutely love it!

Erhatke, George Clooney is definitely NOT buying in your area. The piece of news you refer to was an April Fool's prank published by some Italian papers, including Il Tirreno. The house depicted was not in Lunigiana but at the southern end of Pisa province. Periodically, George Clooney "buys" property all over Europe, according to news released by the press. In the past few months, he has "purchased" expensive property in Spain (Marbella), France (Provence) and several other areas. Do not believe everything you read wink

Well I think there is a number of views you need to balance, good luck in doing so :) One thing I would add is to think hard about buying, consider if you are prepared to tie your cash up in something you may find very difficult to sell, if at all. Another words, can you afford to almost lose your 100,000. To us the 4 years we have had already have made it very worthwhile buying even if that should end tomorrow!

Thanks everyone for your replies. We understand that the market in most parts of Italy is not as buoyant as some parts of the UK. So yes, we'd be prepared to be in it for the long run. I think it's going to take a flight to Pisa and to go North instead of South and to do some serious research. Any idea of additional costs when buying at the moment? I hear that 2014 tax for first time buyers in Italy is quite favourable.  

Ulysses, the first time buyers favourable deals may refer to first home owners in Italy who are permanent residents. I understand that you are only looking at a holiday home and there are no special deals in this case. I have found this information which may be useful in your case. http://www.casatuscany.com/services/service.php?id=38It is difficult to ascertain how much you will end up paying as it all depends on the cadastral value of the property you intend to buy, which is usually less than the purchase price. You will need to ask the agent or the notary to give you an estimate of the final costs. Generally speaking, you should budget for 10 to 15 % of the agreed price to be on the safe side.Your idea of visiting Northern Tuscany and doing some serious research is a wise one. You will not be disapointed and this is a buyers market. Take your time and think a lot before buying. It took us two years to find the right place for us some 7 years ago, but it was worthwhile. Stay away from ruins and homes which need major works. This is my advice. Good luck and best wishes! smiley

Can't remember the exact details, but think some parts went up and some went down, but not a lot of change over all. My Italian is certainly not up to it, but this http://www.agenziaentrate.gov.it/wps/file/Nsilib/Nsi/Documentazione/Provvedimenti+circolari+e+risoluzioni/Circolari/Archivio+circolari/Circolari+2014/Febbraio+2014/Circolare+n.+2E+del+21+febbraio+2014/CIR2E+DEL+21+02+14+%282.pdf is to do with the change. If nothing else it is certainly the de facto site to get the true and current tax costs. For the rest I would do a quick search on "cost of buying a house in Italy". Ok they won't be bang up to date, but they will give you a good idea. It's also one of the things covered in many of the books on the subject (worth a few pounds buying one, in the sheme of things, very cheap). A spreadsheet with the costs involved is a good idea as many are/were bases on the cost of the house. We budgeted for 20%, actual was 13% addition to the cost. Something that will actually be worse these days is moving the money to buy, look at it early on and think about how you will deal with any currency fluctuations, especially between the deposit and final act stage.

I related this story a number of years ago on the old forum as an example of how a little local “help” can make a difference.Sitting in an Aulla real estate office finalizing documents, I looked through a copy of Italy Magazine and noted their website and forum. First day I checked in online there was a note from Charlotte regarding one of her lunches upcoming. I wrote to her and asked if a former “colonist” (USA) could attend.At the luncheon we met a number of expats all of whom had some wise words for us newbies. One of the attendees was born here in Italy, worked for years in GB and then returned with his English wife to his small village in Lunigiana. His advice was essentially to find the tradespeople needed for restoration who lived the closest to our village. He said one of the worst things one could do is to bring an “outside” tradesman in to do a job and later find out that “Giovanni” who lives three houses down, was well qualified and we will have P.O’d half the village. Another aspect of having nearby tradespeople is that whenever there is a problem you need only walk down the via and knock on the guy’s door.In a village of 14 Italian families we were able to connect with an electrician, born and raised across the via from us; a tile guy from the lower village; a roofer; and from one nearby village, a plumber; and from another close by village, a master builder.After deciding upon what renovation work was to be done, we were given an estimate and time frame for completion. The builder would not accept one farthing as a deposit saying he will have earned his pay when the job is finished and we were satisfied.The work was done in less time than estimated, and with some innovative solutions to some of the problems encountered, the final price was 30% less than the original estimate. In addition, our “advisor” kept an eye or two on the progress while we were not here.So, not all tradespeople view the “furriners” as “suitcases.” Find out who your neighbors are before casting about for tradespeople. You might be surprised who they are.Fred

Hi ulysses, I am a holiday home owner in the area you are thinking of buying in northern Tuscany. Our small two bedroom house is in a tiny village 3km up a hill/mountain from Licciana Nardi in the Lunigiana area. It's a beautiful area and a good spot to base oneself as it's 30 mins to the nearest coastal towns, 45 mins to Cinque Terre, 1h10m from Pisa, 1h15m from Lucca and 2 hrs from Florence. We bought an old ruined barn for €25K ten years ago and it cost us just over €80K to restore. Whilst the resortation job itelf was quite impressive in terms of what the architect designed for us and the quality of work done we do have a few gripes such as a badly placed and too small septic tank etc. The house is built on bedrock as a foundation and as such damp is a big issue - mould/mildew grows on everything during the winter months when we aren't here. My point in all this is to advise you that even though your budget might leave you looking only at renovation properties I would stay clear unless they are minor tweaks. Immobiliare (Estate Agents) like to sell dooer uppers as they make money on the sale and then more on the renoavtion contract. Also bear in mind the costs of owning your own place abroad are sometimes not such good value when compared to a yearly or even bi yearly holiday. Our house has lovely character and is a very sweet little villlage but there is a monthly mortgage on it as well as costs in maintaining it. Work to be done every time we come out (the fewer your visits the more work each time) so it can take time to settle into a break away. I sometimes question if it was a good investment. You can of course pay someone to prepare and maintain it for you but that also comes at a price.Anyway good luck in your hunt and if you do come to the area and need any advice on where to eat stay etc. I'll be glad to help! We lived here for nearly two years so know it pretty well.

Try local estate agents and papers etc, and always get the property ispected by a professional...I knoiw one who provides this service, anglo-italian builder..will provide you with report and costing of any work necessary etc et, ...Aywhere in Italy...well worth the price, as could save you lots....

The comments about being ripped off got me to thinking. Is there anything in Italy like Angie's List? I'm afraid that might sound ridiculous, but something like that...where people can rate workers and give honest reviews. Also, does anyone ever call out the scoundrels, say on television features or whatever? That is fairly common in the states. Sometimes when there is a lot of hail or some other damaging event, crummy workers will appear and be hired to fix things, then they don't finish or do bad work, and when more and more people complain, it comes to the attention of newspapers and newstations. Just a thought.

Ive looked and I couldn't see anything to say about  bad reviews.  The trouble is we are vulnerable as  we are not there all the time.  We  paid our first agent for electrical work, it wasn't finished and then when we asked our second agent to ask someone to finish it, the same electrician turned up!  He was very embarrassed .I am sure we have just not seen the best of BDL yet, we've met some lovely store keepers who were very helpful and residents.  It's a shame we got our fingers burnt with our first agent. And to be honest everything was ok until we required building work and a planning application, I'm not totally sure it was her fault or that of the Gemotra .We were very lucky and managed to buy a really small property in Calabria, the difference in purchasing, help and remedial work is unbelievable.  The agen meets us together with the lovely gent who looks after the property and we go out with them and meet all the local families.  I know we will have this in BDL, it just takes time, our agent is lovely and so is the Engineer, we are getting there!

Hi. We have a small 2/3 bedroom house, fully renovated and furnished, with fantastic mountain/village views from the terrace, for sale in Benabbio, approximately 5km from Bagni di Lucca. There's a great pizzeria nearby, and the village also has a bar/restaurant, 2 shops and a further summer bar. We're asking euro 125,000, but are open to offers! Please don't be afraid to view!