We became acquainted with a local, small-time property developer, Gualtiero, who was eager to show us his newest villas, which were very attractive, with spectacular sea vistas. He soon conceded that these properties were “ever so slightly” out of our price bracket, however he recommended a team of builders who had worked on some of his projects, who came from the Cassino area. We were impressed by the seemingly high standard of their workmanship, and we were assured that their prices were “modesti” compared to some other local builders. We were keen to obtain a quote from them for the renovation work.
Meanwhile the quote arrived from Vittore, the camper / builder from Rome. We cautiously opened the envelope … and gulped. All that we had budgeted to get both floors of the structure habitable would have been swallowed up in the labour costs alone. At this point panic began to set in !!!
We were introduced to yet another builder by the name of Osvaldo, who immediately reminded me of the chap in painting by Frans Hals of “The Laughing Cavalier”, being suitably stocky, rotund, with a very macho stance. He sported an elaborate, curled moustache which, periodically he would proudly tweak.
His quote came in at approximately the same as the first, but his was inclusive of building materials, which was somewhat comforting. Having watched all the TV programmes about renovating property abroad, we knew that the prices of estimates were far more likely to increase rather than decrease, as the project developed, and we were concerned that we would be left with no money in the pot for contingencies.
Finally the quote from the Cassino building team arrived, and was by far the cheapest. We chatted with them at length and explained that in order to save money we would wish to undertake some of the manual work ourselves, possibly fitting the kitchens, doing some tiling and painting etc, working alongside a professional builder. They said they would be happy with this arrangement, thus we were greatly encouraged and definitely felt ourselves warming to them.