after you have bought your ruin...
a restoration story
...started in 2005 after buying our ruin in the beautiful LeMarche region of Italy. As designers it is of course a dream to create a wonderful home restoring an old structure that has history and a story.
We spent many hours photographing and sketching the vernacular buildings of the area for inspiration, working out how to use details and materials in our farmhouse. The following pages show the four phases of work.
As designers one might guess that the initial phase of work is the most exciting for us, but design is nothing unless it gets built. Sadly, from experience, the design phase can often not be done by a designer, it might be a Geometra (local planning consultant) or possibly an engineer, more worryingly it might the building contractor...
ideas & plans
...before the builders are commissioned, the local Commune must approve your farmhouse designs. This is done by preparing and submitting two sets of plans; one of existing structures and one of the proposed changes and developments.
The character, personality and quality of the spaces are the defining factors after you have decided upon the grand concept. These are manifest in the materials used, furniture chosen, fabrics, paint, flooring everything right down to the hinges, sockets and switches.
A large part of the budget will be spent on the kitchen and bathrooms, these must be of the correct character and material to relate to your grand concept. Lighting too should be carefully considered as this creates mood and drama, the importance of this should not be overlooked.
All of these design decisions should be made before you start to build, changing afterwards can be very costly, time consuming and disappointing.
...once you have approval for your designs, restoration can begin with a stripping back to the original. You may have to decide what original actually is and what it means to you as old openings and features will be uncovered.
The restoration will automatically include replacing the roof, as the original will have no insulation or earthquake pinning.
Try not to panic as the builders remove and replace large chunks of your house!
But do try and retain existing materials and reuse as much as possible even if the builders initially resist, it will retain character and history both of which are in the fabric of the structure.
Towards the end of the restoration, the doors, windows will be installed, making the sealed shell ready for the interior.
...the list can be extensive and include; kitchen and bathrooms, lighting, electrics, gas (if you are using this), water both in and out in all its shades, white, grey and black, as well as, of course, all of the finishes, colours, materials and textures.
Here again it is vital that all of these relate back to your grand concept; resist the temptation to buy beautiful things without carefully considering the concept. This sounds straight-forward but isn't.
We designed and built new walls to accept bathroom wares, hiding pipework in the process and quickening the works and helping to make fewer chances for translation mistakes.
You might find difficulties with almost nothing in the structure being straight and true, we found the internal doors for example, especially difficult...
...it is possible not to budget properly for landscaping, instead concentrating on restoration of the house, it is what happened to us and it took many following years to produce the setting we first hoped.
The landscape is fully three-dimensional, of course, this will challenge your design skills in trying to make sense of level changes, steps and surfaces. We tried to make use of as much of the original stone and bricks many of which were left over from the restoration.
It is also, just as with the structural restorations, enjoyable to spend some days touring around the local countryside taking photos of interesting uses of the various plants, this will certainly help with your choices and designs.
are you restoring
...an old farmhouse or hilltop town property?
We would love to meet you and find out how your project is progressing and share experiences.
If we can help in any way through design, planning or specification and build, we would be pleased to hear from you, the link is towards the end of this document...
you can also see more of our house at www.casatoto.co.uk
in the meantime, you might find our planning information graphic useful with initial thoughts and desires...
we hope that this information graphic might help,
all of the items in the circles must relate strongly to the big idea
our big idea was; 'the structure is beautiful and should remain so'
after you have bought your ruin
we hope we can help...