Renovating an external wall - correcting an error of our previous renovation

Renovation reloaded (November 2014)

We are renovating again an external wall, that was beautiful restored during our previous main renovation six years ago in November 2008. See my post about how to renovate the side facade here. It included a voting by readers, and the result is presented here.

It turned out, the decision we made back then was an error, as the bare stone wall was deteriorating over time and soaked in all rain water in some particular areas. With the result of having humidity spots on the inside which dried out during summer, but let the plaster and paint on the inside constantly come off the walls. That was not a problem in the guest residence as the residence has a different surface on the outside walls, but in our living room on the ground floor, and in the master bath and guest room upstairs.

deteriorating stone wall (July 2014)

The picture (above) was taken during the procession of La Madonna del Carmine in July 2014 and shows at least one of the crucial areas.

Why did we wait so long for the correction?

First it was not clear where the water infiltrated. It looked more like a leak on the roof terrace and on one balcony. But then it became more and more visible from the outside.

Second, we lost many months and weeks thanks to our reluctant neighbor who had to give access to our wall.

after applying impregnation paint, foam is added for further insulation

fixing the foam to the wall with these blue pins
foam fixed

The new method of renovating this external wall: applying an impregnation paint on the stone wall. After that a 4 cm thick insulating foam was fixed on the wall (with blue pins, see above). And at the end, a finishing of colored plaster comes on top.

a glimpse of the new look (December 2014)

A large portion of our first year's vacation rental earnings will go into that wall.... But that is the purpose of renting out our guest residence. The income should help to maintain and improve the residence and to pay the running cost of the house. Hopefully, we won't have this kind of major spending on renovation again any time soon, and will be able to build up some reserve funds. Our project remains a project ... but a wonderful one.

See below the side façade over the years. And now, just in time before some rainy days, we finished the insolation and plaster work.

house in 2006 before renovation project started

after renovation in November / December 2008

after 2nd renovation December 2014

Our big fat Renovation Project: Palazzo Pizzo

All began in 2006 when we were falling in love with an over 200 year old house on a cliff in Pizzo (Calabria), in the South of Italy.
For several reasons it took us five years to renovate and decorate the palazzo.
It's now our beautiful European home base, away from our expat home in Asia.

Here are some milestones from our project:

How we got the palazzo? - about having a dream in summer 2006
Facade - before and after - photos from above
Facade - before and after - photos from front and side
Facade - before and after - photos from the Sea

Before and After Photos - all "before and after" posts show the long way we came

Fanfare! - the renovation starts with good vibes in November 2007

online renovation - how to deal with a long distance project
My crazy tile mix for the kitchen - turns out sensational!

Now I have to live with this - the "mistakes" we made
Maybe the biggest shock - the struggle with a TV antenna
Popular posts about everything bathroom and kitchen
Resource links - my file for resources (international, Italian and local)

Restoring - the whole documentation of the renovation progress
Press: The New York Times and the International Herald Tribune feature our renovation project in the article "Expatriate Bloggers chronicle details of Home Renovation"

The Guest Residence - the vaulted cellar of the palazzo with its private garden terrace became a pleasant guest residence which we are letting to vacationers. 
Visit our "Best of" Photo Gallery  for more impressions

Palazzo Pizzo logo 2006-2013
Palazzo Pizzo logo since 09/2013

Renovation Reloaded

I am not talking about a new project. We are renovating in our house again. We are renovating the renovation. Or are we re-renovating? Maybe, I should say repairing.

Before we left Italy this summer, I walked through the house and noted all the tiny and not so tiny things that needed small repair or even big make-over.

Angelo, Tonino and Mimo, our workforce, went back to work. Starting from adding rings to several door hinge-joints (to avoid abrading on the floor) to restoring entire walls. The latter is documented with photos below:  

preparing renovation in a renovated house...

craftsmen everyone likes (broom!)

the colour and plaster strangely peeled off in this corner

wall newly plastered and drying (hopefully!)

same corner, one floor down, similar issues

This is an outside wall, facing South-West. The same wall causes humidity problems on all three floors of the house. In the bathroom of the guest residence (to be), one floor above in the living room, and one more floor above in our master bathroom (no photo). We have already insulated the wall from the outside. 

Could there be a leakage from the roof top terrace? :-/ 

Actually, there are two possible explanations for the humidity in the wall:
  1. Rain water penetrates the whole wall from top to bottom in that corner of the house. We will have to look into re-doing part of the roof terrace.
  2. And that is Angelo's theory, that the centuries old, one meter thick wall has absorbed water over the years before the renovation and had not yet dried out completely. - I hope so. Otherwise we will repeat this same repair work again. But then after the roof top examination.

Beside that humidity problem, we also had a material problem:

interior natural stone wall is too natural - sand keeps falling

but hopefully the new material can fix the problem

same with our "just" renovated outside wall,
the rain washes the plaster/sand-mix off - and sand keeps falling on the garden terrace

Not sure, what Angelo, my father-in-law - who is from Piedmont and in fact is based in the Veneto, but prefers spending his time in Calabria - would do here in the South, without my new To-Do-list...

It sounds like a joke, but every joke has a bit of truth - and this one is almost all truth. Angelo always needs a crafting project. Therefore, we are blessed that he coordinated right away all the tasks.

Meanwhile, our cappo is back in the Veneto. And everyone prepares for the holidays. For now I have no more updates and news from Pizzo and will be back on the blog in January. I hope to see you  !


The Guest Residence is coming along

The guest residence - as we do call our seminterrato with the high vaulted stone ceilings - is coming along. It is a very charming apartment with private garden terrace and stunning sea views. And it is ready to be tested:
Palazzo Pizzo Guest Residence
Who will do the test sleep on the new mattress ?
And who will test the rain shower under the vaulted ceiling with sea view?

For sure, we will test the gas stove and brew a coffee ... 
 ... and test the morning sun in the garden – and there we might notice, that a garden chair or stone bench is still missing.

We came a long, long way!

vaulted cellar before renovation, August 2006

Before and After, compare these photographs! - Stunning!
This is mainly Angelo's work, my father-in-law, who was working here hundreds of hours. How he preserved the stone walls and ceilings, how he elevated and insulated the floor, what special techniques and material he used, needs to be posted in another story.
But now, since everything is so pretty (and after another repaint of the walls), CC and I would love to welcome guests. We would like to host not only friends and family but also travelers who are looking for some peaceful days in a small sea side village to rest from their travels.
So this is my new project, to find out how to implement accommodation availability checks on my blog and credit card payments. In the meantime, if you are interested to become a test sleeper between July 7 and July 28, please contact me via email at writing(dot)suzie(at)yahoo(dot)com and check what can be arranged.
For further information go to Guest Residence Page or read the about the renovation.
more pics:

Before and After: How a tiny 2,6 m2 overhanging Toilet became a pretty Kids Bathroom

A bit over a year ago, I was planning the tiny overhanging bathroom that measures 1,4 m x 1,9 m (2,66 m2). Originally it was just an "outhouse" with a toilet, a bidet and a sink. But we wanted to install a shower - in order to have an "en suite bathroom" for our son's room.

And I have to say, I am really happy with the outcome!

tiny kids bathroom 2,6 m2

I had told Angelo (our "capo" and my father-in-law) that his grandson would like to have a "green" bathroom. And, that I like "subway" tiles. I designed the tiling for the floor and the walls. Angelo over exceeded our expectations by adding a stucco ceiling (that was not there originally)!

Since the sink is right below the window - where you have a nice view in the neighbours garden and over the sea - we needed to have the mirror installed beside the window.

Our young son does not use a mirror so far... So, I do not know whether this beauty mirror is too small or not. But it looks nice! It has the right size for this bathroom.

shower area 80 x 80 cm

If you wonder why we have a rain shower installed in such a small bathroom, then because we probably made a mistake when ordering the shower equipment back in China, where we were living at some point - a couple of years before this bath renovation.

But we were lucky, it just matches the height.

  small compact toilet
For the sink, I researched online the different sizes available for different models. At the end I choose a Duravit Strack 3 model, they have a lot of options. It is important for a small area to choose the largest possible sink - as it is a hassle to wash hands in a sink that is too small.

I even asked Angelo to sit down on the toilet (that was already delivered) and measure the space between his knees and the wall to make sure, there is still enough space between toilet and sink.

The two short blue tubes that stick out of the wall next to the toilet are the pre-installation for a water spray. In Italy it is common to use bidets in private bathrooms. But with the installation of the shower we really had no more space for a bidet. So we opted for the space saving water spray - yet to come.

The floor tiles are layed diagonally in order to optically strech the room.

"spider" shower curtain holder and "fish" hooks
In a shop in Vibo Valentia, we found these green "fish" hooks. There were only two left and I bought them. Angelo fixed them behind the bathroom door. In another shop I found the "spider" that is a space saving Italian solution for hanging the shower curtain.

And here is the old bathroom, BEFORE renovation, as we found it when we bought the house:

BEFORE toilet with bidet
The toilet itself was also very tiny before and squeezed into the left corner. The bidet was eliminated for our new bathroom layout. The sink was moved below the window to give space on the right corner for a small shower.

BEFORE renovation
The only thing that was bigger in this bathroom before the renovation and became smaller after the renovation, is the window! Strangely, the window frame is so massive that the new window is much tinier. Well, these are things you encounter when renovating, whether you are on site or thousand of miles away.

"outhouse" or overhanging bathroom
Our palazzo is over 200 years old, and at that time an outhouse toilet was common in European cities. You can still sea the remains on the side of many palazzi in Italy. But of course the toilets nowadays are linked to the public canalisation.