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PROPERTY

Expert tips on renovating your Italian property

Thinking of buying an Italian property to renovate? It can be a lot of work, but local property experts have some tips.

Expert tips on renovating your Italian property
A property renovation project in Marche, Italy. Photo: D&G Design

When deciding to buy an Italian property for renovation, there are all kinds of things to consider; from location to budgeting to finding the best supplies locally.

Renovation projects can be enough work in your home country, so adding foreign laws and language to the mix can make the idea seem daunting.

But plenty of people have done it before, and there's help and advice available if you're thinking of making the leap.

We spoke to Italian home renovation experts David and Gary from D&G Design, based in the Marche region, who renovated their own property in Italy and now assist others doing the same.

”Homes, just like ours, offer fantastic potential and could be an attractive option for foreign buyers,” said Gary. “They can easily be transformed into stunning second homes, holiday rentals or even bed and breakfasts.”

A renovated dream home in the Marche countryside. Photo: D&G Design

They gave us their top renovation tips for anyone thinking – or already in the process – of buying a home to renovate anywhere in Italy.

Find a geometra

When carrying out major restoration works, you’ll need to enlist the services of an ingegnere or geometra (civil/structural engineer) who will oversee the project and provide a quote for all works, Gary said.

A good one will provide an accurate estimate for the job at hand, and work with you to arrange tradespeople or builders to carry out the works.

Get planning permission

Look out for the hidden extras. “Anything that requires planning permission will need to have an ingegnere or geometra submit these applications, required by law,” says Gary.

“There are fees for planning permission, so have your ingegnere/geometra provide you with a full cost of these prior to purchasing the house.”

Check your costs

“Check your local government guidelines on costs of each aspect of a renovation/restoration project. Make sure that you are aware of these so that you can cross-check any quotes you receive.”

Don’t forget anti-seismic work

You might come from a country where this just isn’t a consideration, but in Italy it’s vital.

“A good ingegnere/geometra will insist that anti-seismic works are carried out to homes needing renovating – this is a requirement by law.”

Photo: D&G Design

Budget realistically

We often hear about restoration projects with runaway budgets, but it doesn’t have to be that way if you’re realistic from the outset.

“A good way to determine the cost of a project is to anticipate spending €1,000 per square metre of the home on full restoration projects where rebuilding, rewiring, plumbing, heating, etc is needed,” says Gary.

For smaller renovation projects, he says €600-€800 per square metre is a good guideline to budget.

“Then add 20 percent to your estimate to cover any hidden surprises, taxes and fees. With any luck, you’ll have money left over!”

Make use of funding schemes

There are some good schemes in place for residents who restore historical homes, usually receiving some of the costs of the project back via deductions on your taxes.

If your plan is to become an Italian resident then investigate whether these schemes exist in your area before work commences. 

Consider a project manager

“If you’re not going to be present during the renovation works, enlist an English-speaking project manager who can be on site and work together with your ingegnere/geometra to provide you with full details and updates weekly,” Gary advises.

David and Gary in Italy. Photo: D&G Design

Choose tradespeople carefully

“Don’t be afraid to ask to meet with builders and tradespeople beforehand. Ask to see other projects that they have worked on,” says Gary.

You should also beware of quotations that seem to be lower than government guidelines.

“All quotes are estimated and chances are that a lower quote will increase as the work progresses. Ask your ingegnere/geometra for a worst-case scenario quote so that you budget for all eventualities.”

Get to know your neighbours

Making time for the neighbours is invaluable, Gary says. “They will appreciate you making the effort, especially if you can use a few Italian words and phrases, and they will be very knowledgeable on where to find the best items from trusted local suppliers.”

Seek out local artisans

This has to be one of the best parts of restoring a property in Italy.

“There are some amazing hidden talents in Italy, artisans producing work that may be dying arts in your home country.”

“Have fun finding local ceramics makers, flooring specialists, carpenters, etc. After all, Italians have produced some of the world's most famous art and architecture, and many are still creating works of art even in the smallest of towns.“

Go antique hunting

When it comes to decorating and finding furniture for your new Italian home, you can be very creative.

One of Gary’s favourite pastimes is visiting Italy’s famous antiques markets, where he says you can pick up one-of-a-kind pieces for a fraction of the price you would pay elsewhere. 

The famous monthly antique market in Arezzo, Tuscany, is a good place to find unique pieces. Photo: Clare Speak/The Local

Have you renovated your own property in Italy? Do you have any of your own tips or stories to share? Get in touch at [email protected]

READ ALSO: The best renovation properties you can buy in Italy for less than €50K

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MONEY

How to get a discount on the cost of solar panels for your Italian property

Solar panels are an understandably popular choice in Italy, and if you're thinking of installing them on your own home there's funding available to help lower the cost. Here's what you need to know.

How to get a discount on the cost of solar panels for your Italian property

As utility bills rise, more home and business owners in Italy are looking at installing solar panels as a possible way to reduce costs in the long term.

Solar panels are already hugely popular in Italy, with the nation ranking top worldwide for solar-powered electricity consumption.

READ ALSO: Who can claim a discount on energy bills in Italy?

And no wonder: it’s a solid bet in a country where there is sunshine in abundance. But what about the costs of installation?

The good news is that there’s financial help available from Italy’s national government aimed at encouraging uptake of solar energy, as well as other incentives from regional authorities in many parts of the country.

It’s in the government’s interest to incentivise solar power, as Italy has vowed to transition to greener energy with its National Integrated Plan for Energy and Climate (Piano Nazionale Integrato per l’Energia e il Clima 2030 or PNIEC).

So how could this benefit you? Here’s a look at what you can claim at both a national and a regional level.

Regional funding for installing solar panels

As well as the national government subsidies available for covering the cost of solar panel installation, some regions have introduced their own bonuses or discount schemes.

The sunny southern region of Puglia and the wealthy northern region of Lombardy have seen the highest number of residential photovoltaic systems installed, according to market research.

it’s not surprising, then, that these two regions’ governments are offering cash incentives to help cover the cost of installing solar panels.

Depending on the type of system you opt for, you could expect to pay between around €5,000 and €13,000 for installation, design, labour and paperwork.

To contribute to this initial outlay, the local authority in Puglia has created a pot to help homeowners on lower incomes move towards renewable energy.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about installing solar panels on your home in Italy

Newly introduced in 2022, the so-called Reddito energetico (energy income) offers households with an annual income below €20,000 a bonus of up to €8,500 for installing photovoltaic, solar thermal or micro-wind systems in their homes.

The bonus is intended for residents who have citizenship of an EU country or, if you are a citizen of a non-EU country, you can still claim the bonus if you have been resident for at least one year in a municipality in Puglia.

The €20,000 annual income refers to a household’s ISEE – an indicator of household wealth calculated based on earnings and other factors.

A worker fixes solar panels. (Photo by Ina FASSBENDER / AFP)

For this particular scheme, if you claim this bonus from the authorities in Puglia, it precludes you from also claiming funds at national level concurrently – such as through the popular superbonus 110 home renovation fund (see below for more on this).

Although there are other government bonuses, such as the renovation bonus (bonus ristrutturazione) that offers a much higher maximum total expenditure of €96,000, it can only be claimed as a 50 percent tax deduction spread over 10 years in your tax return.

For lower income families in Puglia, this may not be as cost effective as the grant from the regional authorities, which may equate to more money towards the cost and supply of solar panels.

For more information and to apply for Puglia’s renewable energy bonus, see here.

Lombardy is also stumping up funds to continue the solar power momentum experienced in the region.

While the coffers for private properties are currently closed, the region has made funds available for those with small and medium-sized businesses – again, in a move designed to lessen the impact of rising energy costs.

Business owners can claim a 30 percent grant for the installation of solar panels. There are more funds available to cover the cost of consultancy during the process too.

For more details on applying for this energy bonus in Lombardy, see here.

Other regions have also taken the initiative with encouraging more homes and businesses to change to solar-powered energy.

The region of Tuscany is offering an incentive on installing solar panels to residents in the form of tax deductions spread out over several years.

Works permitted include installing winter and summer air conditioning and hot water systems using renewable sources. This covers heat pumps, solar panels or high-efficiency biomass boilers.

For further details and information on how to apply, see here.

Each region may have its own solar panel bonus, either in the form of grants or tax deductions, available to private residents and/or businesses.

Check your regional government’s website to find out what may be currently on offer.

Solar panels are an increasingly popular option for those renovating homes in Italy. Photo by Jeremy Bezanger on Unsplash

National subsidies for installing solar panels

If your region isn’t offering any cash incentive to install solar panels on your property, there are government funds available, which cover all 20 regions.

The authorities introduced and extended a package of building bonuses in order to galvanise the construction industry following the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.

While there is no single, separate package of incentives for installing solar panels in 2022, you can take advantage of other government bonuses that include the cost of solar panel installation and supply.

As noted, you could use the renovation bonus (bonus ristrutturazione), which amounts to a 50 percent tax deduction spread over 10 years in your tax return – or through the superbonus 110, a scheme that promises homeowners a tax deduction of up to 110% on expenses related to property renovation and making energy efficiency measures.

READ ALSO:

The property must make at least a double jump in energy class or reach the highest efficiency rating when accessing these bonuses.

There’s a substantial amount of funds on offer to install your solar panels.

Using the renovation bonus, there is a maximum total expenditure of €96,000 (per single housing, including condominiums). Remember this amounts to a 50 percent tax deduction, so the maximum saving you would make is €48,000.

The renovation bonus has been extended until 2024 and, where solar panel installation is concerned, you can claim for the costs of labour, design, surveys and inspections, as well as VAT and stamp duty.

You must tell Italy’s energy and technology authority, ENEA, that you’ve done the works within 90 days in order to access the state aid for solar panel installation.

If you choose to use the superbonus route to claim funds for your solar panels, however, you can spread out the tax deduction costs over five years. Alternatively, you can apply for it as a discount on the invoice (sconto in fattura) or through the transfer of credit (cessione del credito).

The limit when using this bonus is €48,000, which can now be accessed for a while longer as the government extended the deadline for single family homes.

See HERE for details on how to claim it.

See more in The Local’s Italian property section.

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