Updated: Jun 12, 2022
With the better part of structure and underlayment systems in place November 2020 marked the beginning of the surface and finishing pieces the house.
What a crazy year 2020 was, between the Global Shutdown and American Presidential elections. We found ourselves lucky to be able to travel to Italy as Citizens, where most Americans could not enter. Candice was scheduled for December 2020, I would go a month or two later.
Fissures had been found in the front walls when plaster was removed, so to prevent the final layer of plaster from cracking, a net was added and then plastered over. This would be done on the walls in the studio/guest room, and the center room.
The walls are sprayed with plaster and smoothed with a simple long piece of rectangular metal tubing.
The layer of plaster that's applied before the final coats has a color added, so it can be seen if there are undone patches, or if the plaster is too thin.
As with everything, plans change. December 2020 marked another lockdown in Italy for the Christmas holidays, and Candice's flight was cancelled. We decided that the more technical type of questions that needed answering were better dealt with by me, so I went in January when things opened up. The Christmas/New Year's Holiday break goes until January 6, so I left on that day, and on the evening of the 7th landed at Eve's house for three nights. Getting to Puglia is not an easy travel, and since there were still Covid restrictions, I wasn't able to fly or take the train from Rome. The only option was to drive; but after an all night flight I would say it's one of the more foolish and dangerous things I've ever done.
The house was transformed when I arrived. More house than ruin, with flat floors and walls!
Pipes, or PVC hoses that carry water and electricity had been sealed under a layer of concrete, giving us no small concern if something went wrong; but they have assured us that the tubing will hold. The beginning of the heating system was being prepared with an insulation sheet, and then the plastic panels that hold the hot water tubes.
The garden had sprouted new clover and weeds since being cleared for the road to get equipment in the previous summer, and it was a mess. Two trees were to be removed, and if we had known the emptiness their loss would leave, we would have thought more carefully about it.
After a very long pause, I'm returning to these pages to update what has happened in the last year and a half!
I returned in January 2021 for three weeks to make choices of floor finish in the central rooms, tile and hardware finish for the bathrooms, lighting fixtures, placement of outlets and switchplates, faucets, sconces, etc.. Candy and I spoke almost every day to make sure we were on the same page. We facetimed when something had to be absolutely clear.
I returned to New York just as the vaccine was becoming available, and we postponed our February trip so we could get our second vaccine in the first week of March.
We stayed again in the back part of the Palazzo Bacile, still cold and damp from the winter, and retaining little heat. We thought we would be move in ready by April 1, but it wasn't until three weeks later that we moved into the unfinished house.
Puglia in the spring could be mistaken for Ireland or Scotland as the clover bursts out all over, and wildflowers start to bloom on the landscape.
The house was undergoing changes every day, but it was obvious we weren't going to be moving
in for a while.
Each day we trotted from one side of town to the other to see what progress had been made.
The heating system was installed and tested, and appeared to work, but we were just heading into the warm weather, and once the floor was poured and tiles laid down it wasn't retested.
Occupancy had been promised by February 29, but that had already gone by the wayside, and because of Covid and other issues, the difficulty in getting materials had begun to slow things down. All the bath fixtures were held up in the northern part of the country because the factory had shut down, and there was no one to find and ship them.
The windows were the single most important element in the house. They were thermally coated with a heat repellant surface, and each pane was filled with a gas to help keep heat out, and heat in in the winter.
They have worked brilliantly since installation.
The pool was excavated in March and a foundation laid. Throughout the next four months the pool would be worked on in stages. Each step another layer of concrete was added, and then had to dry. Forms were made and then finally taken off with the full basin completed. areas around the pool filled with rock and cement to prevent the pool from pushing out, and to help create a solid path around the pool that wouldn't collapse.
This is what a mistake looks like in a stone house. Evidently the water lines had gotten crushed when the patio was installed, and to get at them the entire section had to come up. I dread this happening inside the house!
Meanwhile, we were able to enjoy the Spring in Puglia while we waited for things to get done.
The kitchen was installed, but the counter and backspash had to be cut, and that would take two weeks. This happened the end of April/beginning of May.
The facade was completed in a two week period in the beginning of May.
The upper and lower patio were being worked on at the same time as the garden back wall.