Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Meeting with the Geometra

(Previously in our story: Last spring we met with Rosella, our kitchen lady, to design our new kitchen. Over the summer we had refined the plans and were ready to install everything the first or second week in October. We had sent our friend Wendy a list of things we wanted done to the house, so that she could find a geometra and have him ready to start at the same time. Wendy found the perfect geometra for us: not only did he live in San Venanzo, but he had previously worked on our house, so he was already familiar with the layout. Let me backtrack just for a minute to explain what the geometra does. To the best of my knowledge, a geometra is like a general contractor, responsible for coordinating the various jobs, people, and permits. Finding a good one is very important.) Anyway, to continue, we set up a meeting with the geomtra during our first week here, and this is what happened:

We had been operating under the impression that our house had not one, but two water heaters. We thought the one in the blue bathroom supplied the water for upstairs, and that the one in the room off the garden supplied the hot water for the radiators and also the ground floor. One of the first things we wanted to ask the geometra about was the garden water heater, and how to turn on the radiators should we experience a cold snap.

Wendy introduced us to our new geomtra, Mauro Rellini, who spoke no English. He did tell us that he was used to working with foreigners, although I’m not sure if they were Americans, Brits, Germans or some other nationality. He looked at the large rectangular box in the small room in the garden, and after poking around for a while, called the plumber. Once the plumber arrived, things didn’t get much better. He worked on this “thing” for quite a while, all the while explaining that this was only for the radiators, this was the riscaldomente. Apparently it just didn’t work, although we don’t really know why. So now we talk about the new caldio, and everything associated with it. On the ground floor of the house, just behind the kitchen is a small room with a wood burning stove that is an alternate source of heat for the radiators. Although that sounds great, you know as well as I do that we will never use it…you’ve got to get the wood, and store the wood, and cut the wood to fit, then clean up the ashes afterwards…I don’t think so. So now the plan is to remove the stove, and put a small bathroom in that room. Great. And the washer, dryer and water softener will sit in the area just outside the bathroom. Great again. Now the problem. Because of new laws, the pipes must be buried in the floor, and it’s about the same price to put in an entirely new floor as to take up the old tiles carefully so that they could be re-used. Okay, I know we are “rich Americans”, so now we are getting a new floor. I really hated the old floor, so this is just a good excuse. How soon can we do this?

Rosella is ready to go, so are we, but…the geometra says that he can’t begin his work on the floor until October 27th, which also happens to be the same day we are scheduled to start our Italian classes in Perugia. We had planned to stay with a family in Perugia in order to maximize our immersion experience, and just come home on the weekends. Now I am not so sure. I really don’t want to be gone during this major renovation. When we built our house in the States, I was there, at the site, every single day, just looking, watching, planning. I enjoy being a part of it, and I especially don’t want to come home one Friday to discover that the floor is the wrong one, or the cabinets are placed incorrectly. Yes, I know I am a control freak. Tough. It’s my house, my kitchen. We call the school to tell them that we will not be staying with a family.

Most of the other projects will wait until spring. I want the interior of the house painted…in COLORS! We want to upgrade the electric to 4.5, but the electric company might not do that until all of our wires are buried in the walls. We want a large closet built in our bedroom, so we can utilize the space floor to ceiling. We also want to re-arrange the other bathroom upstairs so that we can put in a larger shower. Right now we have one of those opens-at the corners showers that is only big enough to stand in with your arms down at your side. You know the one I mean…what’s with that? God forbid they should eliminate a bidet in order to have a shower big enough to bend over and pick up the soap!

The next week the geometra returns to take measurements and pictures in order to apply for our permits. We discover that his estimate has included the fireplace work that Rosella has already included in her price. That will lower the price a little. And we tell him that we do not want a bidet in the downstairs bathroom. I’m sure he thinks we are filthy pigs. He says it may be possible to start the floor a week sooner than previously thought! We arrange to meet next Tuesday to pick out floor tiles and bathroom fixtures. I have to remember to ask about under-cabinet lighting. And the new wrought iron banister. Things are starting to happen!


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