Hi everyone,We have just become proud owners of a

Blue Lavender Image
02/19/2011 - 15:02

Hi everyone,

We have just become proud owners of a property, which requires a full restoration.  We are very excited about the project smiley, but there is a lot to learn and a lot to do.  Which brings me to the following questions that I have for you wise and knowledgeable people:

1- We have decided to have a combined heating system of thermal, under-floor heating, and one wood-burner connected to the boiler.

a- Has anyone installed a similar combined system?  

 b- We are interested to find out if the wood burner connected to the boiler really reduces the gas bill significantly - considering the extra cost of the connection to a boiler.

 c- We are looking for ways in which we could reduce the overall cost of the heating system, and in that are planning to lay the tubes for the under floor heating ourselves - is this a good idea, has anyone done so?

- Are there other jobs like the above that we ourselves can do to help the cost?.


2- We have heard from number of people (including in this forum) that building materials are cheaper to buy in the UK. Therefore, we are intending to buy from the UK: all parts of our heating system; insulation materials; bathroom stuff; paints; tiles; etc., !!!, and store them in a “self storage” , before transferring the materials to le Marche.

a- Are we going too far with our purchase from outside Italy.

b- How does the transportation work –  are there companies with large vehicleswho can take care of such cargo?    

c- More importantly, will there be any “tax” involved in moving these items from country to country?.  

 With many thanks and sorry if I have rambled along, this is my first posting and could not stop.




Hi welcome to Marche, where are you going to be? Its a wonderful part of Italy, after nearly a year here I still giggle at the scenery on my drive to the shops, its life enhancingly gorgeous, beats anywhere I lived in the UK for sure. Can't offer much advice re heating just prepare yourselves for scary gas and leccy bills compared to the uk and do get a wood burner you can cook on - such a waste the ones with useless curved tops. If you are after baths rather than showers they are deffo cheaper in Uk, prob because Italians prefer showers - I just brought 3 baths from bestbathrooms.com - they got them on one pallet and charged only £150 delivery to Marche - total price for three baths, one double ended fitted and two were quite fancy looking stand alone baths inc delivery was £800 - we looked around here and one place wanted 2000€ for a similar acrylic slipper bath, the double ended fitted one was about £160 in UK - here €290 so that was well worth doing. Tiles can be bought here reasonably - fantastic place near Tolentino we picked up great floor tiles for only 8€ a sqm and then they lent us (for only the price of the fuel) a big flat bed truck to bring em home, something you certainly wouldnt get from B&Q. The same place - think its called fallimenti sells ceramic shower trays, loos, bidets etc at good prices - between 50-70 euros for very acceptable ones. I am currently researching shower doors - think slightly cheaper in Uk but not worth importing for me due to transport costs. Paint in interesting colours is expensive - just paid €80 for 5L of a satin finish for external wood. No tax to pay importing from Uk - all eu innit - just you may need to avoid coming with it all via switzerland but sure others can advise. We had all our stuff freighted here in two big containers and it arrived a few days after we did. It was definitely cheaper than hiring vans and doing it ourselves but there are others on here who may be able to do better deals who I am sure will come forward - I have heard good reports about Phil who is coseperlacasa on here I think. Hope thats helpful - generally the UK does seem to be cheaper - I have just bought Italian coffee machines off amazon uk cos they are cheaper there than here which is mad to me but thats the way it is. Just remember if machines go wrong its a lot easier to get guarantees honoured it you bought em here..   Am

Welcome to the good life. I've designed lots of systems just like you have described and the way it's done is pretty well established now.The trick is to get away from gas pretty much completely, if not absolutely, and a properly balanced set of solar panels with a wood burner can do this. It is now at the point where gas is just there for boosting and backup with a big question as to whether to have a gas boiler at all. So to answer your question about reducing the gas bills, the answer is that you can completely eliminate your gas bills except for cooking. Plugging in a wood burner can sometimes be almost free, just a matter of two pipes to the heat bank but only if the layout is carefully planned... a lot depends on the size of house and the general layout.. bigger houses sometimes warrant a wood burning furnace. You should probably be thinking about heat pumps too and PV panels - bigger up front costs but you can get well past the ZERO COST mark on energy and towards a PROFIT of €2,000 odd. Paying huge heating bills is entirely optional - there is a choice.

Hi Blue Lavender How excited must you be feeling!!  We had a similar project 5 years ago and are about to move out there this year - whoopee!!  We checked out heating our huge house and our builder advised that he had recently completed a job whereby he'd installed gas heating  for a British couple (against his advice) but they were then getting gas bills of 1,000 euros a month for the gas.  As we couldn't afford to pay that (only during the winter I know but still lots of dosh) we researched methods for our house which is massive with 2ft thick stone walls and concrete/cotto floors and decided upon a humungous wood burning stove built into the inglenook fireplace which heats the house, runs the water and heats the room which it is in purely by the heat of the wood (good for toasting bread and chestnuts too!!).  It was not cheap - the stove alone cost 4,500 euros (not fitted) and we knew we would have to put some effort into "feeding" it, cleaning it out, restiocking it and keeping it going but now hubby has the hang of it and quite enjoys this aspect.  Although we've only been visiting the house for several weeks at a time until now our gas/electric bills have been minimal even during winter. Apologies as I'm now going to "hijack" your post a bit - Amaretto mentions freighting stuff out to Italy - I posted on here yesterday as trying to sort moving our household out in July/August for good (yippee!!) but it seems to be horrendously expensive.  Could Amaretto give me a contact for the freight company and an indication of whether it is cheaper that way - I'm beginning to pull my hair out a bit....   All the best Blue Lavender, it will be so worth it when it is ready (or ready enough to live in, I think ours will be a lifelong project) - we are in Umbria so not so far from you and I agree with Amaretto that the views to the shops want to make you scream out loud......   Cedric xx

I love this forum, everyone is so welcoming.  We are some where between Loro piceno, Massa Fermana/Montappone – not very far from Tolentino, thanks Amaretto for the tip, we’ll visit the place next time we are in Marche, but I need the direction.  I will be interested to know about the shower doors.   How about kitchen appliances? Are they cheaper to buy in the same way as your Italian coffee machines? Thank you Cedric for sharing your expeirnec with the wood burning stove with me. I am glad that you  hijacked my post, “the freight company” was my question too. Yes, please Amaretto let’s know. Sagraiasolar, your reply is what I was hoping to hear - our house is 300 sqm, and won’t be cheap to heat it.  Re the PV panels, for sure we will be having them installed. How many panels do we need, if our house is well insulated? We are planning to invest on TRI ISO SUPER 10, to insulate the entire house.  Ciao

.. every case is slightly different. As you say you will definitely have PV panels - as opposed to the wet ones - your train of thought might go like this. An array of 6kWp would match your probable power rating on the supply. This would often put out 2kW + in the winter - enough to run a small 7kW'ish heat pump. Wood backing this up. So no need for gas at all. Summer hot water costs would be so minimal that you won't be able to justify wet solar panels either, unless pool heating is involved.  If you take free electricity and multiply it up with a heat pump there is not much that can compete. I hear what you say on the insulating... good in principle especially in the roof and floors. I personally think that doing the walls straightens them up so much that you will feel you've built a Barratt home. Part of the joy of these old houses is the character of the rough old walls with mysterious niches, beams etc. There's lots of heating chat on old mails here.. I suggest you go back over it as most here have had it all before. Check out Badger's mails as he is the heat pump man and on your patch too.

Hi re your q on freighting I asked Mr Amaretto and I think we may have got a great deal cos he had links through his old job with a freighting co who do not usually deal with the public - think we paid about £1700 for a load which was about 18 cubic metres. It was transferred to a Marche company in Ancona who got it to our place on a smaller lorry with a tail lift - essential if you need to offload a heavy case full of china, pictures in glass frames etc and something you have to pay extra for. Think we got commercial rates but prob worth getting quotes from these guys http://www.ital-logistics.com/about/ or these ones http://www.excess-baggage.com or if you have any friends who work in a business that does much import/export stuff see if they might be able to pull a favour with the freight cos they use - like so many things its often who ya know... Also worth noting that unless the freight co does the packing (v v expensive - unfeasible for us) they usually refuse to insure it, so have anything very precious with you and pack breakables very carefully - I used almost 200 metres of bubble wrap on our stuff - for a while anything in my eyeline that didnt move was wrapped in plastic before you could blink. You can buy good cardboard boxes cheap off ebay - top tip go for smaller ones esp if you bringing lots of books, big ones are too heavy to lift if only a 1/4 full of books. re wonderful drives to the shops perhaps we should have a gallery of views here, after being stuck in UK traffic on grey days the drive from here does indeed make me whoop and cheer with joy... Hope above is helpful.. Am

Hi again You can check a lot of prices for washing machines etc UK vs It by looking online at sites like euronics.it, the ebay.it classico site is always worth a surf too to compare prices with Uk cos like comet or currys, just as I said if it goes wrong and you bought it in the uk the guarantee is a bit useless. Shower doors here vs UK also worth comparing on ebay it vs UK - search for doccia porta. The Fallimenti place is at this address

Via Cristoforo Colombo 37 62029 TOLENTINO (MC)Italia

tel: 0733966887 Its on an industrial estate just off the ss78 - google maps will be your friend. Its a funny place - will try to attach a couple of pix of our trip there - hmm can't see how I do that but found this link on someone I do not know's blog - http://messageinabottiglia.blogspot.com/2008/06/day-at-fallimenti-tolent... Theres a big open air part just off the rd for tiles, lavs and some hilariously grand statues, fireplaces etc and on the road itself is a big indoor place that sells all sorts of furniture - not been in as it only opens in the afternoon after 4pm and we were there in the morning but it looks worth a look around for different stuff if you want to minimise ikea purchases - ikea Ancona being the best alternative for economical furnishing if you like their stuff - useful in small doses only imho! Am

Yes, we were amongst those who learnt about Gas early on.  900 Euro's a month last Jan/Feb!!  This winter burnt wood in the stufa - 300 euro will have seen us through all the colder months and utility bills now average about 100 pcm. Hijacking on the freight issue as wlll  - Cedric think you are trying to get your kit to near where we are trying to get things to!  Only prob is that I think you are needing it later in the year. Does anyone know the cheapest way to get things here?! Had quotes for 1250 cu ft of furniture etc (33 cu m) ranging 2700 plus VAT up to 5800 plus VAT.  There is a company called Movecorp who seem great value on part loads, they have been very helpful but found a couple of nasty reviews - has anyone used them or heard of them?

My advice would be to get proper insulation and double-glazed PVC windows. This does make a big difference in your heating costs and it also helps in summer. We have a 200+ year old stone watermill on the river and our heating costs are very reasonable and the house is warm in less than an hour, even if it has not been inhabited for a few months. We got connected to mains gas, worthwhile if you have it available in your area and we also have a new boiler which provides hot water and heating through radiators. We had a double circuit installed, so we can switch on and off the downstairs apartment which is never used. Best wishes regarding your renovation.