Renovating a property in Italy

Last summer we caught up with Mark Jacobs, who had recently bought a trullo – a traditional drystone hut – in Latiano, Italy. After an epic renovation project, the property now has a brand-new swimming pool, solar panels and is finally ready to rent out to guests! We spoke to Mark, to find out first-hand what it’s like taking on a renovation project in Italy.

How have you found the experience of buying a renovation project in Italy?

Mark says: “It’s been a rollercoaster of a journey, to be honest, but I’ve enjoyed it every step of the way. I knew exactly what I was getting into and anticipated some ups and downs. We’ve pretty much taken the whole place apart and re-built it, added a swimming pool, installed solar panels as well as new electrics, plumbing and septic tank – the works!

“The whole project has taken about 14 months and it’s been hard work, but also very rewarding. It’s great being able to enjoy the property with family and friends and it’s really exciting sharing what we’ve done with others – the first paying guests have just checked in!”

What advice would you give to anyone looking to buy a property Italy that needs a refurb?

Mark says: “Don’t cut corners! There’s a lot of bureaucracy in Italy and while it’s common for locals to ignore planning regulations and such like, you can’t afford to do that as a foreign buyer. Having said that there are plenty of great people that are happy to help you and hold your hand through the process. Building good relationships with local people is vital.

“I obtained a survey before committing to the purchase, so we always knew that we would need to address issues with regards to the foundations, but if we hadn’t had a survey done it could have been a nasty surprise.

“I’d also advise anyone looking to take on a refurb project to be realistic about the estimated time and budget that it will take. Weather and what I call ‘Italian time’ can both be a big factor in delays but try not to let overly laid-back tradesmen stress you out, just relax and go with the flow! Try to have some back up funds too, just in case!”

What are the main benefits to buying a renovation project in Italy?

Mark says: “Aside from the obvious, of course, having a great place to stay in Italy, there are some things that come much cheaper in Italy. For instance, the solar panel installation cost about half the price it would have cost me in the UK, and solar energy really is a huge benefit out here. It especially helps with the cost of running the swimming pool and my annual electricity bill is a fraction of what it would be otherwise. It helps that there’s plenty of sun, of course. The enormous pizza oven is another big bonus too!”

Is there anything else you should be aware of when buying property in Italy?

Mark says: “It’s really important to do your research. I found Total Buying Abroad’s buying in Italy guide really helpful and their guidance was invaluable – especially with regards to getting a lawyer using a currency specialist, which helped save me thousands!

“As I mentioned before, the locals can be ‘relaxed’ about paperwork, which was flagged when our lawyer noticed there was a historical discrepancy with regards to the land registry on the property. Thankfully, he sorted the problem out, but it made me conscious of just how important it is to do things by the book, especially as a foreign buyer, as we’re not awarded the same level of leniency.”

If you’d like more information about buying a property in Italy, download our handy Buying in Italy Guide.

 Our team are also on hand for initial guidance about estate agents, English-speaking Italian lawyers, currency exchange and mortgage specialists in Italy. Give us a call on 01244 478 911 or email


You may also be interested in….
Mark Jacobs: Success Stories – Buying property in Puglia, Italy
A guide to renting out your holiday home in Italy
Why buy property in Marche, Italy?

Article published: August 29, 2019