Finalizing the Construction Contract The Computo Metrico is Signed

While we settled on a project budget in October and construction was started in mid-November, we haven’t as yet finalized and signed the (primary) construction contract with the builder, a company owned by Brinza Ionut Bogdan who employs our contractor Francisc, or the contract with the geometra, Jimmy.

A key reason for having delayed the signing is my desire to have a clear definition of just what we’ll get for each budget item. Here in the US, we’d call this the construction drawings and specification. In Italy, the specification is called a computo metrico. (I’m not sure what the particular term is for the construction drawings.)

Kevin has been working to get these construction plans done, and Giovanna has been working to get the contracts completed. This week, they sent along a final draft with all the needed attachments.

On the whole, there were no major surprises in any of the documents. The computo metrico stretched to 31 pages and described in detail the construction of the actual house structure — the underground pylons, the floors, the beams, and the support columns. It also included, but in less detail, the installation of the internal systems, such as plumbing, heating, and electrical.

I noticed two small discrepancies between our past discussions and the drawings and elevations, both for items we had adjusted late in the planning: the size and placement of the window in the stairway and the layout of the door and shower opening in the downstairs bathroom.

The one place I had a surprise was when I saw the view of the front of the house. I had expected that the edge of the top floor terrazza would be “behind” a section of roof, but because of the location of the terrazza, it appears that there is a “gap” in the roofline.

Le Marche design front

I can see why it happens when look at an overhead view of the terrazza and its placement, and there is not an obvious solution: the terrazza can’t be “pushed back” to allow a roof section, as the door to the terrazza is right on the front edge of the terrazza, and that door can’t be moved because of the whole top floor layout, especially the position of the bathroom.

Le Marche house plan

Kevin and I exchanged some ideas about how to handle the issue — which is purely one of the visibility of the “side” of the terrazza from the front of the house — including some type of railing or maybe a small stone wall. Nothing seems quite right, but Kevin said he’d get with the architect and figure out a solution.

Giovanna’s instructions were to make two copies of the documents, sign each page, and send them back to her “by courier.” We did sign as requested, which was a bit of a task for me as I needed to carefully write my name on each of the hundred or so pages.

I’m not sure exactly what she meant by “courier” — maybe just not to send regular mail — but I wasn’t doing anything more than sending by DHL, which in itself cost $97, but will have the documents there in three days.

Next will be the “advance” payments we owe Francisc and Jimmy, which add up to a few tens of thousands of euro.

All images: Copyright © Our Big Italian Adventure

An Important Detail

We still don’t have the final permission to construct the house, as the approval process has been lengthened by the October earthquakes. But we’ve still been able to work on the road and start excavation.

stoplight indicating lack of approval on permesso di costruireI’ll let Kevin explain where we stand:

The only ‘issue’ at the moment is that the town offices continue to delay release of the permission to construct which was due in our hands [two weeks ago]. This is due to the earthquakes and has nothing to do with our particular project, but is a general slowdown across all non-emergency projects. We did advise them that we were proceeding with the road and the excavations. They had no issue with this. On Monday they issued a special order for all projects presented in the last 120 days, asking for additional structural and geological calculations and analyses. We have the structural piece done and immediately available as part of the original work. The geologist is preparing the additional info required and that will be in Jimmy’s [the geometra] hands tomorrow for immediate submission. With the final paper in hand we can begin executing a contract. In the interim we continue to work on the road and excavations.

So, for now, merrily we roll along.


Green light for building permitWe received the final, formal Permesso di Costruire today. So now all we need is a final budget with all the details (the computo metrico) and we can sign the construction contracts.

Page 1 of Permesso di Costruire Click to enlarge
Page 1 of Permesso di Costruire
Click image to enlarge

Image sources
First two images: License: CC0 Public domain. Free for commercial use. No attribution required.
Third image: Copyright © Our Big Italian Adventure

Advice about the Construction Contract

Giovanna and I had a Skype call this morning to discuss the construction contract. I had sent her Kevin’s draft and all the relevant materials I had: the floor plan, the site plan, and the budget. In Kevin’s draft, it referred to a Directory of Works, but I wasn’t sure just what that means in Italy, Was there more than what we had received? Whatever the practice is in Italy, I was going to require more details before starting a project that will cost about 500,000€.

Her advice was just what I wanted to hear: we need more detailed specifications before we can sign the contract. So if I needed support for my position, I had it.

She said there are two types of building contracts in use: Chiave in mano, what we would call “turnkey”, or a looser arrangement based on a cost-plus method. We clearly want the first.

Sample computo metrico page
Sample computo metrico page
Click image to enlarge

In this arrangement, we get a detailed budget and a final price for each contractor or supplier, accompanied by a detailed description of the work to be done, called a computo metrico.

We have been working intensively with Kevin over the last two weeks to work out the details of the overall construction, the pool, and the windows. We’re pretty much set on what we’d like to have.

The next step is for Kevin to give us the budget and computo metrico. I’m sure that will lead to some changes, as we work to keep the budget under control.

Image source
Copyright © Our Big Italian Adventure

Closing: Short and Sweet

Friday, a little after 6. Everyone present who needs to be.

We had done the oral reading of the documents on Wednesday, so we were here just to pass around money and sign the contracts.

Signing atto to buy property in ItalyThe contracts are in both English and Italian. My translator and my attorney agree that they are the same. The seller, the translator, and I have to sign each page of three copies of the contacts and of the statement that the translation is accurate. As I did in the bank, I have to carefully write out “Edwin Joseph Katzman” each time. Legible, but cursive. Not an easy combination for me.

Just to add some humor to the situation, we also have to sign an energy certificate. This document rates and explains the energy efficiency of the property — in our case, the ruin. (It’s not very efficient. Very drafty.)

To finish up, the notaio signs everything, while having an animated conversation with my lawyer, which I can’t follow. The translator assures me it has nothing to do with my deal. They’re talking about a mutual acquaintance, and not in a positive way.

A few photos, handshakes all around, and we’re done. Anne and I own the land and the pile of stones.

Copyright © Our Big Italian Adventure

Getting Close to the Closing

On Thursday morning, I found out that the bank transfers had come through. In fact, as I looked at the paperwork, I figured they had in fact happened the day before, before the closing. So we should have been able to finish yesterday evening.

No matter. Giovanna was able to get the notaio, the translator, and the seller for a 6pm Friday meeting at his office in Macerata.

The only difficulty was in getting to the office. Since I needed to be in Macerata, I left my hotel in Urbisaglia and moved to one in the centro storico of Macerata. It was not an easy move.

zona traffico limitato sign

Like many Italian towns, the center has a zone where only residents can drive, a ZTL, zona traffico limitato.The entry streets all have cameras and the fines are large. Also, like many towns, there are pedestrian only streets, also with cameras.

The hotel had sent me an email, telling me not to use a gps since it wouldn’t bring me into this limited zone — where the hotel was located. (They have an arrangement to cancel the fine for hotel guests.) They told me to follow a set of written instructions and to not worry about the limited zone or the pedestrian streets.

That’s hard advice to follow when you’re by yourself and streets are poorly marked. After two trips through and back out of the centro without finding the hotel but having gotten a lot of dirty looks on the pedestrian streets, I decided to try Google Maps.

It did, in fact, take me into the ZTL, but I still couldn’t find the hotel. Finally, on my fifth tour, I spotted it. The sign was positioned up high and past the hotel. No wonder I didn’t see it — even though I know I’d been down that street at least once before.

I crammed the car next to the wall, took my bag and went to check in. I was hoping, like other hotels, they’d handle the car from there.

No luck. I was going to have to find the parking garage on my own.

Then luck. A woman had just finished work and offered to ride with me to the garage entrance. Now I just had to manage the two remote controls, for the gate and the entry door, find my assigned spot, and jam the car into a small space with walls on both sides.

I couldn’t find a pedestrian exit, so I retraced my process with the door and gate. Finally, I’m in my room. I arrived at the gate to town at 3:30. It’s now almost 5:00.

Macerata Click to enlarge - The gray area is a steep hill.
Click to enlarge – The gray area is a steep hill.

I figure it’s wise to leave the car and walk to the closing. Only 15 minutes, they tell me. True, but it’s all downhill. Steep downhill. (In the map on the right I was going from the center of town at the top down to an area outside the old city walls.) It will be 30 minutes back, I figure.

At the building, I locate the number for the notaio’s office. Number 14. First floor, I guess.

No. Off the elevator, I find numbers 19-25. So down I go down the stairs. Now I’m back where I started. No offices.

Let’s try the second floor. Finally, I locate the office. Higher floor, lower number office.

Everyone is waiting.

Photo: Copyright: coburn77 / 123RF Stock Photo
Map: Google Maps