FINDING OUR BUILDERS
Once again I decided to enlist the help of my friend Ernestina she tracked down seven local builders and a couple of others our geometra invited along. We must have had about 10 in total through the house.
They came and perused our house. They were tall, thin, fat, old, young and some downright cheeky and arrogant. Some were way too expensive , some could’nt even converse in Italian never mind English, the problems went on and on. At times it was quite amusing albeit stressful. It was also extremely time consuming as they all insisted that we should go round and view their previous creations.
They would arrive at the house stomping towards the front door have much to say about everything taking deep breaths and rubbing their chins mentioning big jobs etc etc etc.
We would look at each other knowing that this was a non starter.
So we came up with a strategy the room that we had decided to allocate as our dining room had major water damage to its ceiling. The large hole in the roof had allowed water to run down into the bedroom soaking the floors and weighing heavy on the vaulted ceiling below. This had caused a large crack and a flattening of the curve. Our geometra said that this could be saved and repaired.
This would be the test which builder would be able to save our ceiling. We certainly could not justify the cost of creating new vaults.
The majority of these characters shook their heads waving their hands in negativity and saying” no no it needs to come down far too dangerous”
others said “it would be cheaper to demolish”
We were getting nowhere fast and the builders just kept arriving.
A few days later the geometra came back he wanted to submit the plans to the commune but could not do this without a builder’s name. On seeing our plight he said
“why not use my builder?”
well we had met him, he had actually been one of the first in the group but had been very quiet and uninspiring. I have later learnt that he was very apprehensive and self conscious about the language barrier. When I voiced these concerns to the geometra he said ” he has renovated my house come and see.”
So we did, it is an old property across from the cantina in Mombercelli the inside is ultra modern and quite stunning. Maybe not our style but very impressive never the less. The one thing that completely bowled us over was the brickwork. It was quite perfect and precise.
We said ” send him back we will try again”. In fact he beat us to our front door and this time we could not shut him up even though we could’nt understand a word he said.
What we did establish was that he would willingly work with us and that he was happy to tell OH what jobs he could reasonable do cutting the costs and using the professionals time to the most benefit.
The biggest deciding factor was that ceiling and as we all looked up I said in my pigeon Italian
“Renew or repair”., I held my breath
” no problem it will be a bit of hard work for you but it can be done. ( I didn’t realise what he meant at that time!!!!!)
I guess the decision was made at last we had our builder. ‘ Nicola ‘
Nicola the boss, Salvatori the brother, Marco the son – in -law, Pani the Macedonian and his side kick Javid the Moroccan who is the general dogs body.
There are also other members of the family that come and go.
Did I mention that they are Sicilian , well they are and in fact they are all small, dark and speak fast with great hand gestures. Nothing is too much bother and everything can be usually sorted without costing us too much money. The boss is a mine of information and Whenever we need something he knows how to source it, With a shrug of the shoulders he says all is possible it just depends on what you are prepared to pay. I think our house has been built from the salvage yard as we have rarely bought new. It always arrives on the back of the pickup from where – I don’t ask,!
The standard of their workmanship is excellent and their honesty is beyond reproach.
Pani is from the eastern block and has that dogmatic temperament, he is a real artisan his work is always perfect he likes to horde things as if they are a treasured possession you can always here him saying ” that will be useful some day” and in fairness they nearly always are.
Salvatori is always in a hurry busying about and needs Nicola’s beady eyes watching, just in case his haste misses a point.
Javid the Moroccan he is slower and steady very serious, a Jack of all trades and always wanting everything to be correct.
Marco he is a jolly soul, always has a big smile and something to witter on about. His job I am not sure about apparently he had a very bad motorcycle accident and has been pieced back together so is somewhat limited but he certainly has some good ideas.
In spring 2014 they moved in, they stayed and they are still with us. That is when we really started to see things happen.
They are all quite passionate about this old house and pride themselves in their work. There are numerous debates about each project and often things change from the plan whilst the work is in progress.
They have become part of the furniture and happily help OH when something out of their job specification is required. I often see them all disappearing off around a corner to help Oh move something. On another occasion they helped us rebuild new purchases from the antique market. They have even happily concreted my paths in the veg plot with leftover cement. It is hard at times when they are around as work starts exactly at 8.00 and there is not a minute of peace from that moment. Sundays are our sanctuary but incredibly we often find ourselves wishing for Monday so we can all push on again.