Saturday, December 30, 2017

We’re hoping that our stairway to heaven—and by that, we mean, our attic—will be divine

In a last-minute decision before we left Italy in November, we authorized our friend and neighbor Juri to oversee the construction of a new stairway to our attic. We had planned to install a stairway in a year or two, but Juri suggested that if we did it now, the permit he obtained last summer for repairing the roof would also be valid for the stairway installation.

Our attic with open west-facing skylight.
I’m not sure how that could work, but Juri said he has a friend in the comune who said it would be okay. It seems a little risky, but if anyone knows how to get things done here, it seems to be Juri. In the last two years, he’s been completely remodeling his substantially sized ground floor storage space (which we were under the impression can only be used as storage space) into new bedrooms and living areas for his growing family—seemingly all without permits and inspections.

We live only a few steps from the comune, so it would seem his extensive renovations must be known to the officials there. One can’t help but notice the large trucks coming and going with building materials. Does it make a difference that Juri and his dad are doing almost all the work themselves? What will happen when the property is put up for sale someday and his floor plan is entirely different than what is on file at the comune? However, since homes in Italy are passed on from parents to children ad infinitum, perhaps that day will never come.

In any event, I have transferred the needed money from our bank account to Juri’s. I’m not quite sure if he’s acting as our general contractor or he’s just passing the money on to his muratore friend who’s acting as supervisor. Either way, it’s an act of faith in Juri’s abilities and honesty. We had received a bid from a stairway manufacturer and installer in Lucca, and Juri said he and his friend could do the work better for the same price.

Since we need Juri to be there to open the place for the workers anyway, it made sense to hire him and his friend. Juri is an electrician by trade, and he’ll also install some lights in the attic. And he’ll find a plumber to run our kitchen sink drain into the sanitary sewer system (see The junkyard outside our house . . .).

Our old stairway is a squeaky fold-down contraption that completely blocks the hallway to the bathroom when in the down position. The fold-down stairs also enter the attic right under a low beam, forcing one to enter the attic on hands and knees. The new stairway will start in the front entryway and access the attic at the roof’s highest point. We’ll see what it looks like when we go back to Montecarlo in March.
Ingr. stands for ingresso, or entrance. That's where we want the stairway,
instead of in the dis. (no, I don't know what that stands for, but it's a hallway).

We hope to use the attic for storage, to hang the laundry and as a game and reading room. We could even pull out mattresses and use it as a sleeping area when we have too many guests for our bedrooms. When we open the three new skylights installed last summer, it will allow air circulation on hot days, new spaces to stand up and nice views both east and west.

Speaking of the skylights, while I was in the attic with Juri talking about the stairway, I finally got around to asking why our skylights had been installed differently than the drawing I had left him (see Roof with a view). Structural integrity of the roof wouldn’t allow skylights the sizes and locations I wanted, he said. I’ll have to accept that answer, mostly because its pointless to disagree at this point. It would cost a small fortune to make any changes now.

Installing new stairs won’t be the end of our renovation plans. In fact, we’ll still need some railings inside the attic to prevent someone from accidentally backing into the stairway opening. Then we’ll need more insulation and better flooring. Juri also pointed out that we’ll need to seal off any small holes between our attic and those of the houses that adjoin on the north and south, because rats can pass from attic to attic—and now they’ll have an opening to welcome them into our main house.

All in all, it probably would have been less expensive if we had continued to rent some place during our three or four months abroad, but what price can we put on the feeling of being part of the community of Montecarlo? We have no regrets.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments welcome.