Whether you’re buying a brand new property in Italy, you’re interested in doing up an ancient farmhouse or you want to build from scratch, it is our view that an experienced project manager can be totally invaluable to you.

Whether you’re particularly proficient in the Italian language or not, chances are you’re not au fait with planning laws, legal processes, builder’s working methods or where to source authentic yet affordable materials for example.  Well, a good project manager will be, which is why they are worth their weight in gold!

The resident Degtev Italian property expert Alison Harris is a very experienced project manager who has assisted countless British and international clients realise their dreams of that perfect Italian home, and in this article she shares with us her advice about using a project manager to help you buy or renovate property in Italy.

Whether you are simply buying a flat in a modern development, or a dilapidated old barn in need of considerable restoration, it is essential that you are fully aware of what’s involved in the purchase process, and what steps to take to guarantee compliance with regulations and to ensure the smooth running of your purchase and/or redevelopment project.

There will usually be a multitude of parties involved in even the most straightforward buying process, ranging from estate agents, notaries, bank managers, lawyers, builders, local surveyors to planning officers.  Please note, the list is certainly not exhaustive – but hopefully it demonstrates how daunting the whole process of getting your hands on that ideal home in Italy can be.

Simply keeping on top of the buying process can be a challenging task even for those who speak the language and understand how the Italian buying and planning process works.  But when it comes to ensuring you are buying what has been advertised or that you can get planning permission for your ambitious renovation project, employing a project manager really does become a worthwhile consideration.

Appointing a project manager who, for the duration of the process is able to take the burden off you by overseeing and managing some or all of the aspects of your purchase or project, can be crucial to ensuring your purchase or project runs smoothly, on time and within your strict budget.

The role of the project manager is more complex and all encompassing than that of a translator for example, in that they will grasp the whole context of the work being undertaken with your priorities and requirements at the forefront of their minds.  As such, they can cover the following for you: –

• The project manager will manage and liaise with the contractors to define and timeline all the deliverables and milestones and establish the interdependencies, identify risks, issues and possible problem areas, in addition to translating documents, managing the overall budget, planning applications, structural surveys and all other pertinent matters.  They will subsequently take responsibility for ensuring those milestones are respected, risks are managed, budgets are followed and that you are kept updated throughout.

• You may have fallen in love with the property of your dreams which requires extensive structural changes, and which is located in an area of archaeological interest.  Depending on the work you wish to carry out, obtaining planning consent can be a complex and sometimes lengthy process which can differ with each local authority.  Before proceeding the project manager can talk you through the likely planning restrictions and the merits and downsides of each stage of your project, whilst managing your expectations and thus allowing you to make an informed decision on whether to continue.  They will guide you through all the steps regarding the legalities and procedures of your purchase or project, such as assisting you with the logistics of opening a bank account, obtaining a tax code (“Codice Fiscale”), or applying for an Italian mortgage.

• It may not be feasible for you to be present at every stage of the process, particularly at short notice, so in your absence the project manager can act as Power of Attorney and representative where official documents such as contracts or mortgage deeds written in Italian require a signature.  It may not also be practical for you to be on site to authorise key decisions and to move the project along the right timescales.  As with any project, time and money is precious, and with this in mind the project manager will be responsible for overseeing and implementing all key milestones and decisions, whilst reporting back to you for any further instructions.

• Agreeing a Statement of Works or negotiating penalty clauses in a building contract can be both time consuming and complicated, especially when doing it from a distance.  A project manager can be on site ensuring all the finer details are covered, and that realistic costs and timescales are set, which are then reflected in the legal contracts and Statements of Works.  The project manager will therefore ensure that watertight contracts are in place with all appointed contractors, affording you the best protection for any eventuality.

If you’re serious about buying a home in Italy and your dream is to take on a project – no matter how big or small – hopefully the above detailed list of how a project manager can assist you has shown how critically useful such an individual can be to ensuring the successful realisation of your real estate related ambitions.  Naturally such an individual will base their costs on the amount of time and effort they will be required to put into a given project, so you can work with the project manager in determining which elements of your particular project they will assist with.

Finally, it just remains for us to say thank you to Alison Harris for her advice, and to advise you that Alison grew up in Rome, is bilingual and has 20 years’ experience of renting her own property in Tuscany.  After training as a commercial lawyer and practicing in both Milan and London, Alison now runs a property consultancy offering project management and translation services throughout Italy.