Watering It Down Water, at a Reduced Price

They’ve been trucking water to the site so far, but we need to get a direct water connection to allow construction to continue, so Kevin has been working with the local utility company. Today, he gave us an update. It’s pure Kevin:

In mid-December we conducted an on-site assessment with the water company – TENNACOLA. Just before Christmas we received an estimate from them. The estimate, which I attach to give you a chuckle (it elicited a decidedly different physical reaction on my part!), was for €13,511.25 + IVA. Obviously, complete BULLSHIT.

water supplyKevin’s approach was to sit down with Tennacola and our contractor, Francisc, and work out what could be done by the contractor and what Tennacola absolutely had to do. (Either way, Tennacola will oversee the work and be sure it’s all up-to-snuff.)

The reduction is cost was dramatic: to less than a third of the previous number. Great work by Kevin.

Installazione grupo presa
Electrical switch installation (?)
Allaccio a corpo con scavo fino a 5m
Connection to the system, excavation up to 5m
Allaccio a corpo con scavo maggiore a 5m
Connection to the system, excavation over 5m
Posa in opera tubo maggiore 5ml dm 1′
Laying additional pipe
Riduzione 20% scavi su ghiaia
20% discount, excavation over gravel
Pozzetto coperchio in ghisa
Cast iron cover
Gruppo misura DM 1/2
Group measures (?)
Anticipo consumi.
Deposit for consumption
Total Tennacola€13,537€1.649
Total Contractor€0€2,800
Value-added tax
Total Project€14,888€4,729

The next utility up is the electric company, ENEL. Kevin says this will be a crap shoot as well, They don’t provide estimates in advance, only when they show up to do the work. So Kevin will take the same approach to try to peel off whatever Francisc can do at a lower cost.

Image: Pixabay CC0 - No attribution required | http://www.pixabay.com

Special Carpentry Prices for Doors and Niches

One thing that has been TBD in the budget so far and not included at all, even as an estimate, is the special carpentry for the hall closet doors and the nicchie.

Now, we have an estimate for this work. My first reaction was that the costs seemed high, but Kevin reassured me that the carpenter was very good — the only one he works with these days after trying others — and that the costs are reasonable, actually even better than others charge.

In total, the carpentry will add about 2,500€ to the project budget.

Carpentry ItemNotesCost
Two hallway closet double doors
(Coat and linen closets)
Will custom fabricate
Timber to be aged and distressed as per house style
Delivery and mounting, included
Four wall nicchie
(3 bathrooms and study)
Four shelves to be made in solid 3.5cm oak, custom width and overhang detail, to 25cm deep.
Timber to be aged and distressed as per house style
Delivery and mounting, included

I mentioned to Kevin that the total nicchie cost should probably be somewhat less. as the three bathroom nicchie are only 15cm deep and have three shelves. I expect this will get reflected in the actuals.

Don’t Dive Too Deep

At first, Kevin had thought that the pool design and execution would be done in a late phase, when we’re working on landscaping. As he and I talked about it and the contractor weighed in, it became clear that it makes a lot more sense to deal with the pool in the first stage of construction. We’ll have the excavating equipment on site, the house won’t be there to make access difficult, and the concrete can be poured along with the structure of the house.

Pool Excavation

Kevin said that two (reasonable) sizes for the pool that were standard in Italy are 4×10 meters (13×33 feet) and 5×8 meters (16×26 feet.) The first seems long and narrow, and the second a bit stubby. As we considered it, Anne discovered that the “recommended” proportion, at least in the US, is twice as long as wide. So we proposed 4.5×9 meters (15×30 feet.)

All of these work out to about 40m2, but Kevin thought a pool of our measurements might be more expensive, since it isn’t standard, but he went off to price the options.

Let me interrupt my fascinating post with two pieces of trivia: Kevin said the guideline for pool size is 5m2 for each person in it. Second, I realized later that the 5×8 pool might have been right. Its proportion is 1:1.6, very close to what’s called the golden rectangle for its aesthetic appeal and interesting mathematical properties. For example, to name one, as I recall, the ratio of height to width of the Parthenon is this golden ratio.

As far as other design parameters, we asked for a shallow and a deep end, a stone pool surround/patio where we can do a pergola or something for shade, and a poolside shower. Also, we want the pool oriented so the best view lines up with the best views.

Kevin came back with an estimate that fit the budget: about 40,000€, which seems like a lot for a pool, but what he had told us to expect. This seems to be an all-in cost. Here’s what he wrote:

That includes the structure, liner, cover, filters, pumps, drainage, plumbing, electrical, technical area, border, tiles (you will choose), labor, materials, solar shower, two lights inside, dual depth 140/180, etc. The filtration will be an advanced system that uses very low amounts of chlorine. It will come with a guarantee on works & liner and will be the subject of a contract.

general plan for a pool for a new house in Le Marche
Pool diagram
Click image to enlarge

Well, all in except for taxes. A pool is considered a “luxury item”, so it carries a IVA (tax) of 22%, rather than the 10% on the rest of the construction. So it’s really about 50,000€. It’s a lot to pay, but we’d like to have it, and if we’d want to rent the house in the summer, we’d need it.

When I translated the “dual depth 140/180” for Anne and Emma as a shallow end of 4.5 feet and a deep end of 6 feet, they both said, “that’s not a deep end.” So back to Kevin to see about another foot or so in that end.

Certainly, it would cost more. True, Another 30cm would add 5,000€ or so for the construction. Also, any pool deeper than 180cm needs to be surrounded by a fence at 4,000€.

But that’s not necessarily the deal killer. This is: a pool deeper than 180cm requires a lifeguard. We could use it without one, but we couldn’t rent the house.

We also wanted to make sure the pool was oriented to the views.

property plan for new construction in Le Marche
Pool location and orientation

That resolved, we should be set on the pool.

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Getting on the Road

Today’s email from Kevin was a request for approval to get started on building the access road.

The property sits about a kilometer off Strada Provinciale 129, the road between Colmurano and Urbisaglia. Right now, a rough road that turns into a gravel path as it approaches our property is the connection to the SP129. It’s too steep and rough to get equipment and materials to our site.

From the property to the main road Click image to enlarge
From the property to the main road
Click image to enlarge
Our part of the road? Click image to enlarge
Our part of the road?
Click image to enlarge

So step one in construction is to improve this road. I’m a little unclear how much of this distance needs to be improved, but certainly the last few hundred meters need work. Especially the entrance to our driveway. Right now, it’s a steep, sharp turn. We’re hoping the adjacent farmers will let us reshape it a bit.

Because of the recent earthquakes, there’s a tightening of supply of available contractors, as many are or will be working on earthquake-related projects: inspection, repair, rebuilding.

Kevin said that we could grab a grading contractor if we acted fast. Otherwise, we might face a delay of several weeks. We don’t have a building contract yet, so this would need to be done as a separate deal.

We’ve budgeted 12,000€ for this work. The proposal is for us to sign a contract for the road work and pay 10,000€ this week. Plus 1000€ tax.

Anne and I agreed we should go ahead, so now the project is “on the road.”

Google Earth