Those who’ve been to the house will know that we’ve had a continuing problem with an extension that was added to the house by the previous owners. We use the downstairs space as a dining room as it offers a fantastic view from there out of the double doors down to the pool and out across our valley. The upper part forms a balcony area off our bedroom which has just sensational views in all directions. It sounds idyllic and it would be except that the foundations weren’t made deep enough and the extension has sunk by a fraction but it has created this huge crack all the way down both sides of the house, where it abutts the main part of the structure. And it has been getting slowly worse in the 2 and a half years we’ve owned the house. So much for surveys eh…
The good news is that our solicitor here contacted us probably some 10 months ago to say that the original geometra (the equivalent of a surveyor) and builder had noticed or been informed the problem and wanted to contact us about getting it sorted. I think it may actually have been the previous owner who put them onto us – if so we were grateful. We were back in the UK at the time. Carol’s mum was hospitalised too and we couldn’t get back here for a while. But in November we came back to get the olives picked and oil processed (see posting 23 November 07) and hooked up with LB, the geometra whilst we were here. He explained that the problem was due to the foundations sagging and he and the builder wanted to correct it for us, no charge. This just sounded incredibly decent and we agreed, of course. However we explained that we weren’t likely to be back until the New Year. So we left it that we’d contact LB once we had returned.
As it happens we didn’t get back until March this year. Regular readers will know we had a bit of a difficult return with all of our utilities failing so we were kind of focused on getting re-established first off. But we called up LB and he came round with the builder Gr and we got on fine. I also explained about a whole load of problems we’d inherited that needed sorting and I asked if they’d quote for that work too which I knew would have to be paid for of course.
Well we didn’t hear much until a bunch of guys turned up one morning with Gr to come and do the assessment for the estimate – carpenters, plumbers, tilers etc. Again we didn’t hear much for a while. I popped a couple of gentile reminders via e-mail to LB who explained he’d been having some problems with his communications (ahh a fellow struggler) when one day a huge lorry turns up with a beaming Gr and they unloaded a pile of breeze blocks in the lower garden area, down by the pool. C and I were in fact in the middle of cleaning the pool at the time. Gr explained in Italian that they were starting work the next day which I thought was great, if a little unannounced. But C thought wisely that this was the material to build the pool hut – one of the jobs we’d asked them to quote for but on which we’d had no estimate as yet. Ummm. I ran up to check the computer and sure enough in the in-box was a recent message from LB which had the estimate attached. And it was way more than we had anticipated.
We then had an embarrassing conversation with Gr who’d already started to clear up the area around the abandonned former attempt to build a pool hut (this was supposed to have been finished when we bought the property) and just explained as best as I could that we didn’t want him to proceed with that job or any of the paid jobs unless and until we’d agreed a price with the geometra. That said we did want him to focus on the non-chargeable work to underpin the foundations to the extension. Not a good day that one. We were already concerned about the pool lining and working our socks off trying to get it cleaned etc. Now we feared that this project may have just blown up in our face, especially as Gr took his van and left.
We contacted LB again and explained the situation. He was very understanding and said that Gr and his guys would focus on the foundation repairs as promised and we’d talk about the other jobs when the guys were on site. If we didn’t want them to happen now then all we had to do was say so. Fair enough. We heard nothing more for a couple of weeks and were just starting to feel that we would no longer be a priority and these guys have really busy schedules with all the restoration work going on in the region.
That is until Wednesday of this week when at 8am the guys turned up with lorries and Bobcats (mini earth movers) etc and started work opening up deep level trenches around the extension. I have to say they’ve been working flat out from around 7am till around 6pm, with mid-day lunch break and have done a fantastic job so far. As well as being hard-working they are genuinely friendly and good fun to have around although it has been nice to get a break over the week-end. Plus you’ll be pleased to know ladies that although older than pool guy Andrea, Gr also happens to be dashingly good-looking. It must be something in the water.
A lorry load of cement went into the ground to anchor the foundations and they’ve been sorting out some essential repairs etc for us – replacing roof slates and worn brickwork in our rapidly eroding chimney stack. They’re also putting in a concrete base for an extended pathway around the extension part of the house, whilst the ground is open and they’ve got all the earth moving gear here.
Here are some shots of the work in progress:
I can’t tell you how good it feels to be getting this essential work done. Our beautiful dining room’s been leaking like a sieve because of the fractures and although we’ve staunched it, the plasterwork’s become sodden, stained and mouldy but now we’re on the way to having it sorted and re-decorated at last. Plus we’ve had the other work done that’s been bothering us. Some of the remaining jobs – those inside the house – can wait till we’ve got some more money, possibly in the autumn or over winter. We’ve started decorating inside too so everything’s starting to feel more like home and more like our home at last. I’d just better get out and find some more clients, and pronto!