Budget for buying a farmhouse to

Lee75 Image
09/11/2019 - 12:04

Budget for buying a farmhouse to renovate in Tuscany. Greetings everyone! I am after some advice about purchasing a rural farmhouse in the Lunigiana region. I'm on the brink of making an offer, and am wondering if I could have some feedback from some of you lovely local experts. I've been reading through tons of posts on here and there is already a lot of information, so I'm very hopeful someone will be so kind as to let me know what they think about my project smileyThe house is a rustic/rural farmhouse with a solid roof, solid structure, and an exterior that was recently refreshed. It's an empty house though, and would need everything else done in order for it to be habitable. It will need to be changed from rural to residential.Asking price was around €55k and the offer which we are confident will be accepted is €40k. It is approximately 70m2 on two levels, sitting on a large plot of land. There is already electrical connectivity on-site, and the house has its own water source. A septic tank will need to be installed as there's no communal sewage in place. The location is exactly what I wanted in that it is close to the sea and Cinque Terre (both less than 45 minutes away), and it is accessible via a paved road leading directly to the house.My first question: what do you think of the price for this property?Second question: after the purchase price + fees are paid, I will have around €10-15k to begin the first round of renovations. Will this be enough to make at least the ground floor habitable, using very basic materials and finishing? Third question: does anyone know the average price / m2 is for this specific area, for renovations? I'm finding wide ranges of €500 - 1500 / m2 online, and obviously that makes a big difference when trying to figure out the total renovation budget I might be looking at. Thanks!



You say it needs to be changed from rural to residential.   If it results as a fabbricato rurale at the catasto it cannot be sold as such.    If you buy it as a barn/stall/unita colabente then you cant do anything without a change of destination and that means project, prfoessionals, fees and so on - and time.  

Thanks modicasa. One of the conditions of the offer is that it can be converted into a residential habitation, so in theory that bit is covered.My main question is (assuming there is no problem with planning permission, as I won't be buying it if it is), what do you think of the purchase price? And are you familiar with this area in terms of what I can expect in cost per square meter in renovations? I really want to be able to make the main floor habitable, even if it's very basic with simply a functioning bathroom etc, but not sure what type of budget I might expect in this part of Tuscany

I would take notice of what Modi is saying! Even the top of the range cost looks low from what I've read on that area. But you really need to understand what Modi has said. It's no good thinking if I've been told all is okay and I'll go to court if there is a problem, it just does not work that way in Italy....

Thank you for your input re: budget!However I don't understand your comments about what Modi is saying. I haven't purchased anything, and only plan to make an offer on the condition that the barn can indeed be converted into a residential habitation. So, I won't buy it unless that is the case.Am I missing something in what you both are saying...? indecision

Buying a barn which can become a house, isnt just dependent on the offer.   Before you can lay a finger on the property ro ' make it residential' you will have to an archtect/geometra who draws up a project,  submit it tothe comune,  the genio civile for the septic tank and other stuff.  You will find that your initial budget goes on paperwork.  

That of course all makes sense. But what are you suggesting, to not purchase a property that doesn't *already* have the relevant planning permission in place? In your experience, do you think planning permission being denied is a likely or common outcome? In the region I've been looking in, none of the properties already have the planning permission in place, so it seems hard to find, at least where I want to buy...!! The reason I mention the offer is that it is stipulated that we will be refunded deposit/fees paid if the property cannot be converted into a residential dwelling, and we won't close until this is confirmed. 

NO Im not saying that.  Im saying don't underestimate the costs and time involved in converting a non residential building into a residential building.    Alot depends on the catastal classification of the building at the moment.  If its classed as a fabbricato rurale then you cant buy it until it has been changed and that opens a whole can of worms.   If its a C2 a C6 or something then you can buy it, but your taxes on the purchase will be higher than if it were an A3 for example, and then have to go through the change of destination.    

The project cost for what, just the usage change (ie, planning permission costs) from Rural to Residential...? I've been told that the architect + costs for presenting the project to the commune for planning permission for this property should range between €4-5k.

Essentially, all I'm trying to understand is approximately how much I should budget to make the first floor of around 35m2 habitable, as well as around how far I can get with €10-15k in a 'first wave' of work.I've renovated that exact same surface area in Paris before and it cost me €18k, but that's my only reference point. I will obviously soon have quotes from contractors, but was hoping I'd get lucky and someone on here would have first-hand experience to compare with!My research so far suggests the following costs that I will have right away:

  • Septic tank: €1000
  • Electrical wiring: €4000
  • Windows: €2500
  • Bathroom: €2500
  • Kitchen: €2000

Interesting!! The kitchen and bathroom are the only two *I* have experience in already, so thought those figures should be accurate. Though I suppose the amount will depend a lot on fixtures & materials chosen, and I've already got that so I know the exact cost which helps. Good to know re: electrics though - thank you

I had a look back at the costs, yes more than a third of the cost was fittings. The bathroom itself was 2.7 x 1.93m, all fittings reasonable-good quality, tiles were the largest outlay for the fittings at circa €450. The cost was to strip out the old fittings, pipes under 15cm or so of concrete, new pipes, tile and new fittings.

Good morning,
As a structural engineer, I am taking the opportunity to raise a point into the English community about property in need of renovation.

The asking price reflects exactly he purpose of my comment as I have heard so many times in this community the "budget for renovation"; you forget we are in a seismic area and properties are subject to seismic load instead of vertical ones only.

Having said that, the reason why I said that is based on the amount of new doors, wall moved, etc. which will affect the seismic response of the property.

If the addition to the load on the foundation (new walls and openings, "cordoli di coronamento e di interpiano", etc.) is less then 10%, it is called a "miglioramento sismico" which gives you the opportunity to act only locally therefore the impact on the budget will be minor; if the addition is more than 10%, it is called an "adeguamento sismico" and it has to be checked the response of the structure and its "effetto scatolare" (box behaviour - when subject to earthquake waves the structure has to shake all together without any relative movements between one wall and the other). This will have a major impact on the budget and it cannot be given a cost per square metrage as it very much depends by the design. As a general idea, on a property of 70 mq, the seismic upgrading, normally, is in the region of 30-40 k€ (unless "strange" design).

The asking price is exactly a reflection of what I meant. 55 k€ means to me the property has been built around 1950-1960 and it has never been seismically improved therefore it has to be accounted a certain amount of money for seismic upgrading (I would say 30-40 k€); a professional is required, as "Direttore dei lavori", to certify works have been done according to best industry practice and a certificate has to be released at the end of this first phase within 60 days by completion (Relazione a Strutture Ultimate). The "collaudo statico" (performed by a 10+ structural engineer not involved in any phase of the design or "Direzione lavori") has be released after this certificate in order to have the "Certificato di agibilità" (Certificate of H&S and regulatory compliance - art. 24 DPR 380/01) at the end of the site, including the building services best industry practice certificate (D.M. 37/08 Dichiarazione di conformità Impianti).

Having said that, the "rule of thumb" for restoration cost should be 150-200 €/mq for the concrete structure, 450-500 €/mq for the "cocoon" gross of structure cost (including the walls and "intonaci"/plaster-render).

Another cost is 450-500 €/mq for building services and doors/windoes, tiles (Excluding fixture and fittings).

I have mentioned materials with "average" quality as, for example, tiles can go from 10 €/mq to 100 €/mq (I have mentioned tiles 25 €/mq which will do their jobs without being "expensive").

Hope this little post will help you avoiding "strange" surprises when budgeting your project. Please note these are "generic" numbers and each case is different depending by the design…..

Moreover, in order to modify the "Destinazione d'uso" is not as simple and straightforward as mentioned as it has to be checked the indice fondiario related to the land, any house already built, etc.

I would suggest to double check the "Regolamento Urbanistico" before buying a barn which cannot be converted (using, of course, professional advice)


Thank you giuseppinasibilla!!! This is exactly the type of information I have been trying to find. I really appreciate you sharing all of these details, and it's helpful to know that this is your area of expertise. As for the seismic load requirements, I haven't forgotten them... and my architect definitely hasn't either. But, I'm still waiting for more detailed quotes so had no idea how that might impact the bugdet. Based on what you've said, I guess I'm hoping it will be a "miglioramento sismico" blushI think it's normal that people are often asking questions on forums like this about renovation budgets! it's almost impossible to find information because things vary so widely, which is something I'm not used to dealing with for other renovation projects I've done in other countries. I think us soon-to-be-renovators kind of want to be able to say a house X size will cose €X in renovations, when in reality, there are just too many variables with rustic properties in Italy to be able to accurately predict costs. As for the transformation from barn to residential - I'm in no way suggesting it is a simple process, I'm just saying it has been agreed by the owners that this is a condition of purchase. So, if it is determined that we cannot convert the property, then the sale is void.So I have saved all of your comments as this is literally the first time I've had anywhere near this detailed of a breakdown of the potential costs, as well as the various steps (like the threshold of 10% for the seismic load) required and the names (in Italian!!) of the various specialists and experts that I will need to work with.This won't be an easy project, but it should be a fun one!!!Thank you again for your feedback, I really really appreciate it smiley

You're welcome; as you can see in our website services description this is our job and we are keen to provide help for the people who are willing to renovate properties in Italy.

Having said that, I do appreciate the lack of information when dealing with renovations; unfortunately a price list per square meter cannot be provided as it depends by many variables such as seismic response of the structure, cost of the materials, design, hard and soft landscaping, etc.

The numbers I have given are not a professional advice but more a "word on the street" so please take them as not set in stone in order to avoid situations getting on your nerves and miss all the fun…...

In Italy there is a zoning that goes from 1 to 4; 1 being the highest and 4 being the lowest.

Please find the map at the following link https://www.agi.it/blog-italia/scienza/terremoto_mappa_pericolosita_sismica-3404888/post/2018-01-24/

Depending by the area, it is different how much the soil propagates the seismic waves therefore it is different the requirement in terms of stiffness.

Thank you. So buying a house east of Torino, would be zone 3. Good to know.Am I correct in understanding that all houses must undergo seismic renovations, when they are bought? I mean, should I always set aside 30.000-40.000 for this if I plan to buy an older house? I am not saying it isn't the prudent thing to do, I am trying to understand if it is mandatory for the purchase of a house?

In reply to by Dreamer or not

All properties, residential and commercial, must comply to seismic regulation when there are modifications to the exisiting body of the property.

Unfortunately it is not possibile to determine in advance the amount of money required as the seismic renovation depends by the design therefore there are no fixed amounts of money to be set aside (it can be 20.000 or 60.000; it depends by the design, the condition of the existing structure, the size and the materials used!)

Interesting. So , buying an old house, that doesn't comply with seismic regulations in any way is fine. You can buy it, paint it, even install a new kitchen, and live there. No seismic renovation needed.But, if you want to renovate and the renovation includes a modification to existing body, removing a non-loadbearing wall for example or moving the kitchen from the ground floor to the first floor, then you're looking at 20.000 to 60.000 in seismic renovation to comply with the regulations?Is that correctly understood?  

If it doesn't comply with seismic regulations there will be cracks, showing the seismic vulnerability. Moreover it won't have the "collaudo statico" (a certificate stating the house complies with seismic regulations).

Please find the link to earthquake monitoring site http://cnt.rm.ingv.it/#

As you will notice, there are always minor earthquakes therefore how safe for your family and your investment will be when one will strike in the area? (Amatrice has been completelly erased from the map.....)

No insurance company will accept to cover the damages, if it doesn't comply. Moreover, it cannot be placed on the market again because, as mentioned before, it has got no "collaudo statico" (a certificate that states the house complies with seismic regulations) which is mandatory for properties built after 1967. So is it a "wise" investment?

The official estimate seems to be that 70% of italian houses do not comply with regulations.  Now I realize, the risk is considerable, but I am more interested in the mandatory requirements than the risks. And if I am buying in a zone 3 or 4 (east of Torino), those risks are managable, in my estimation. Unless the house shows serious cracks of course.But have I understood the idea of when seismic renovation is necessary correctly? 

The mandatory requirement is the "certificato di agibilità" (a certificate including the seismic compliance, the building services compliance D.M. 37/08, the EPC and the certificate of "salubrity" of the rooms).

It has to be provided each time there's a:
- New build
- Restoration or increase of the height
- Intervention on an existing building which will modify the safety, hygiene, salubrity and energy performance

Hi giuseppinasibillaThank you for the specific answer.I understand now that nothing can be done without it requiring a certificato. Even insulating the roof or the walls will require it. So, basically rule number 1 of buying in Italy: If the building doesn't have a certificato di agibilità, it a huge risk to buy, because it might very realistically need Seismic reinforcements. If i does have a certificato di agibilità, it's fine, you are safe, and all you have to do is to make sure renovations are approved and follow guidelines.Problem being of course, that most buildings in Italy do not have a certificato.

Good mornin,
Thanks for the comment.

Unfortunately being generic doesn't help; each building in Italy has got its own story and it is Architect's and Structural Engineer's duty to verify what has been done and how it has been done to make feel the customer "safe".