Doug Jones & Diana Ross - Santa Domenica Talao

Diana and I decided early on that we wanted to buy an historic property in Calabria. Because it would be our full-time home, we wanted to become immersed in real Italian life and we appreciate just being around buildings that are older than in the US, where we are from. We completely remodeled our last home so we weren’t afraid of projects. The difference here was that contractors would do all the work for us (no DIY this time), and it would happen when we’re sitting at home 7000 miles away. There was a need for trust to say the least.

We bought a gutted shell that needed everything built new including the creation of a bathroom. We had only a handful of days to close with the notario, meet with an architect to agree on work, meet a contractor, agree on costs, choose floor tile and paint and pick out all plumbing equipment. We picked out the main design details for a custom shower, bathroom, kitchen and kitchen appliances. It was truly a whirlwind and I wish I had a video of Tony Hackett, the contractor, and the salesman atCrusco following Diana around as she tried to select floor tile! Us guys were beat and Di kept telling us to go get some coffee but she couldn’t get rid of us. Please see the link below to Di’s restoration diary on the Scalea Forum for more day-to-day details:

Restoration Diary

So, the renovation worked well for us—we were mostly pleased and relieved that it was not crazy to do such a thing after all. Tony Hackett was hired for oversight of the project and was given access to funds for paying the workers. He kept us informed of questions or troubles if they arose. About the only thing that did arise, was the need for gutters and down spouts which had not been planned and cost an additional €3500.

Our comfy two-bedroom casa is just what we wanted. We bought high quality materials and fixtures because it is a full-time home. When we added up all the construction, architect and oversight costs for the project, it came to €1100/sq meter. When I convert that to American dollars, it’s about $40/sq ft. which is affordable and less than typical in the US. New construction in the States runs about $100/sq ft. A kitchen remodel alone in 2006, cost us $50,000 USD. So this tells me that Italian construction and labour costs are very reasonable in comparison.

Words of advice: spend as much time as you possibly can getting things lined up before you return home. One mild disappointment we have is the quality of the kitchen cabinets. Too much particle board is used in the framing and some parts. Had we spent more time at various suppliers, we might have gotten some better cabinets. And just now, we have found a great store for tile, wood and gas stove inserts (Greco in Cirella) so we can replace the first gas heating stove and get a wood burning insert for the next project on the apartment downstairs. They have some units that heat water supplied to radiators in other rooms too.

Yours In Restoration,

Doug Jones & Diana Ross - Santa Domenica Talao