Tuesday, March 7, 2017

‟Into each life some rain must fall”

Saturday, March 4
Thanks for the warning, Henry Longfellow. We usually only come to Montecarlo from February through April, but last fall, we also came for a month—which turned out to be very, very fortunate, because during that time, our slightly leaky roof turned sieve-like. I don’t mean we were fortunate that the roof leaked but that we had been there to catch the water in our soffita
(attic) before it severely damaged the ceiling.

When we made an offer on the house in the spring of 2015, we had noticed some stains on the ceiling of the west bedroom. The real estate agent told us that the roof had leaked after the downstairs neighbor installed an antenna, but the damage had been fixed. Our geometra examined the roof and pronounced it structurally acceptable, although he said we would have to come during a rainstorm to know for sure if all the leaks had been fixed. In retrospect, we should have made our offer conditional on the roof being watertight, but the geometra didn’t seem concerned, so we didn’t make a fuss.

When we closed the sale in the fall of 2015, we spent a couple of weeks in the house. During a hard rainfall with some wind, the roof did have a couple of small leaks, but nothing a couple of buckets in the soffita couldn’t take care of. In the spring of 2016, the leaks grew worse, and we needed about 10 buckets during a windy rainstorm

We talked to Juri, our downstairs neighbor with whom we share the costs for our mutually used areas, like the portone (big front door), corridoio (hallway) and tetto (roof). I wanted to hire someone to repair or replace the roof, but he thought we could buy some more time. He had a friend who could make some repairs for little or no cost, and they would work on it during the summer.
OUR SOFFITA: I was going to cook some gnocchi yesterday and asked Lucy, "Where are all the pans? Oh, yeah, I remember."

And then came last fall, when we came back in November and saw some new stains on the bedroom ceiling. We looked in the attic during a normal rainstorm—with little wind—and it leaked in about a dozen areas. A week later, we had a major tempesta—heavy rains and howling winds—and suddenly we had to furnish our soffita with no fewer than 30 buckets, pans, bowls, glasses, trash bins, casserole dishes and whatever else we could find for the newest leaks.

Time for another conversation with Juri. We had agreed last spring that we would wait until the fall to see how the roof performed with the minor repairs, but now we could see that the roof needed to be replaced. It was too late in the year to do anything but make plans. Juri said he would get proposals from some roofers and we could do the work in the spring or summer of 2017. Meanwhile, he would check the soffita occasionally and empty the buckets as needed. I wanted to put a plastic tarp up, but Juri nixed that idea, saying it would be too risky. If the tarp and whatever we used to hold it down blew off, they would probably land in the street below, damaging cars, disrupting traffic and possible injuring people.

Back in America in December, we received bad news from our friend Elena, who wrote, ‟I spoke to Juri a few minutes ago and he reported that you had been effected badly by the heavy rain of last week. The rain came through your apartment and into his, and urgent repairs are needed for your roof.”

Argggh, but what does that mean? Why did I let Juri talk me out of hiring someone to put up a tarp? How can we do repairs in the middle of the winter? And most of all, how badly had our apartment been damaged?

For the next two months, we wondered how bad the damage had been. Juri wrote and said he had mopped up the water and not to worry. But did the water drip on the bed, and was it getting moldy? We also had a spare mattress under the bed that we pulled out to accommodate guests. Had the water run under the bed and soaked this? Would our whole house smell like a swamp when we came back?

Thankfully, when we arrived last month, the slightly off-level bedroom floor had saved the day. The water had all pooled by the exterior wall; the bed and the mattress were fine. The ceiling had some new stains and mold, but nothing that can’t be washed off, repaired with stucco and repainted once the water problem is solved.

Juri told us he had obtained three preventivi—proposals—for the repairs, and he summarized them for us, but for some reason, he forgot that we don’t understand rapidly spoken Italian well. Maybe he was in a hurry to get somewhere, but he summarized everything so quickly that we really didn’t understand exactly what our options were—only that the repairs could cost anywhere from 10,000 to 50,000 euro, depending on how they were done and what extra features we wanted to add. I asked him to write down, in Italian, what the options were, because I understand written Italian much better than spoken.

That was two weeks ago, and still nothing has been put in writing, so we’re thinking of meeting with Juri again with the help of an interpreter. We want to get this settled during the quiet phase of our stay here, before guests start arriving and our lives get hectic.

To be continued . . .

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