Posts Tagged ‘house’

Photo: Case 1-Euro.
A small town in Sicily decided to sell decrepit houses for almost nothing to see if someone would fix them up. It’s certainly bringing in more curious visitors.

Sometimes getting something for nothing may cause a recipient to be careless with the gift, as in a story I read a few years ago about a guy who built and donated a home to a homeless woman who let it run to ruin.

Other times, wonderful things happen.

Harrison Jacobs writes at the Washington Post, “If someone said you could buy a house for a dollar, your reaction might be disbelief. That was how Rubia Andrade felt when she read a news article in 2019 about towns in Italy selling properties for one euro.

“ ‘Obviously, your first thought is that this can’t be true. I needed to see it in person,’ said Andrade, a Brazilian American who works in California’s solar industry.

“Andrade booked a flight three days later and drove to Mussomeli, Italy, a hilly town in central Sicily with about 11,000 residents that had recently launched a program selling hundreds of properties in the run-down historical center. …

“The 1-euro housing program was first proposed over a decade ago by TV personality Vittorio Sgarbi. Then the mayor of Salemi in southern Sicily, Sgarbi proposed the idea as a way to save the town’s crumbling old quarter. The idea has since caught on in 34 municipalities across Italy.

“But it was only in the past few years that it captured the global imagination when articles about towns launching similar programs on the island went viral. …

“While some houses sold through these programs are livable upon purchase, most are little more than four medieval-era walls. Roofs are caved in, and floors are torn up. Many are filled with dead pigeons or other vermin. Prospective buyers who haven’t done research are usually surprised by the conditions, said Toti Nigrelli, the deputy mayor of Mussomeli.

‘We tell people to come here first because we don’t want any surprises. We want them to know what they are getting into.’ …

“Though the official cost is 1 euro (around $1.14), fees and closing costs can typically run up to 3,500 euros (or almost $4,000). Then, you are required to renovate it within a designated time frame — typically three to five years — or forfeit a sizable deposit, usually around 5,000 euros (or $5,709). According to Nigrelli, towns use the deposit to ward off speculators and ensure buyers renovate the properties instead of letting them sit. Renovations cost anywhere from 5,000 to 100,000 euros, depending on the house’s size and condition and the renovation style. Most end up spending 20,000 euros to 40,000 euros, Nigrelli said.

“None of those complications deterred Andrade. She initially purchased a 1-euro property and returned that summer to renovate. Since then, she has bought two more and become an evangelist, returning every few months with friends, family and even Facebook acquaintances to help them with the purchasing process.

“ ‘Even with the fees and the cost of the renovation, it costs less than a timeshare in the U.S.,’ Andrade said.

“While Andrade first saw the 1-euro program as a cheap way to own a vacation home, she now has bigger plans: to help revive the town. Andrade and her son are converting their three properties into an art gallery, a wellness center and a restaurant. She plans to move to Mussomeli permanently.

“She’s far from the only one. Danny McCubbin is one of about a dozen foreigners who bought 1-euro houses in Mussomeli and now lives there full-time. McCubbin, an Australian who worked for celebrity chef Jamie Oliver for 17 years, bought a 1-euro house with the intention of converting it into a community kitchen to provide meals to vulnerable people. He crowdfunded over $30,000 last March for the project.

“Complications due to the pandemic delayed renovations, but he has since purchased an 8,000-euro house to live in and rented a storefront in Mussomeli’s piazza.

“Since launching the Good Kitchen this summer, McCubbin has become an unofficial ambassador for the 1-euro program. …

‘“The townspeople thought I was opening a restaurant. They didn’t understand the concept,’ McCubbin said. After he partnered with local charities to host picnics and baking parties for orphans and those dealing with mental health issues, locals got the idea.”

More at the Post, here.

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Photo: Houben/Van Mierlo architecten
New homes in the Netherlands are being created with a 3-D printer. 

Now for something completely different: how those creative Dutch are using 3-D printers to create homes.

Gianluca Mezzofiore reports at CNN, “Living in a community of 3D-printed homes will soon be reality in the Dutch city of Eindhoven.

“In what is considered a world first, a single-floor, three-room house made of 3D-printed concrete will be ready for occupation in 2019. More than 20 people have already registered their interest in the house since Dutch construction company Van Wijnen announced the project. …

” ‘We need a technical revolution in the constructing area to respond to the shortage of skilled bricklayers in the Netherlands and all over the world,’ Rudy van Gurp, a manager at Van Wijnen, told CNN. ‘3D printing makes things quicker, better, cheaper and more sustainable by using less material. It also fosters creativity and freedom in the design.’

“Working along with the Eindhoven University of Technology, the construction firm is printing a special type of concrete for the house’s exterior and inner walls by adding layer upon layer.

In laying concrete only where it is needed, the amount of cement being used is significantly lower, which helps cut down on costs and environmentally destructive carbon-dioxide emissions. Van Gurp estimates that 3D-printed walls of the new houses will be 5 centimeters thick, while normally they would be about 10 to 15 centimeters. …

“At the moment, research costs and regulation restraints outweigh the benefits of 3D houses, but we may see mass production of these in the next few years, van Gurp said.”

For more pictures and details, go to CNN, here.

Photo: Houben/Van Mierlo architecten
A 3-D printer lays down layer upon layer of concrete for a new home.



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Some African communities are rediscovering the value of mud for building cool, comfortable homes — and sparing trees.

This story is from the Thomson Reuters Foundation by way of the the Christian Science Monitor feature “Change Agent.”

“Building a house in the poorest villages of southern Mali has for years involved cutting trees for timber frames and struggling to save cash for a corrugated iron roof. Now families are turning to an alternative: Nubian-style domed mud-brick homes that are cheaper, protect fast-vanishing local forests, and make homes cooler in the worsening summer heat, experts say.

“Earthen homes with vaulted brick roofs – a style adopted from Nubia in northern Sudan – are being promoted across the Sahel, including in Burkina Faso, Senegal, and Mauritania, as part of efforts to build resilience to climate change.

” ‘Most people, more than half, don’t have the decent housing they dream of because it costs too much to build. This is going to change with the Nubian vault,’ predicted Chiaka Sidibe, a mason in Massako, one of the Malian communities adopting the new building style.

” ‘You just have to make mud bricks that don’t cost money, and fellow villagers help you to build your house,” he said. …

“The local office of the Association la Voûte Nubienne, the international non-governmental organization that is promoting the Nubian vault building style, has helped train local builders in mud-brick construction techniques. The aim is to build a sustainable, self-supporting market for the homes, said Moussa Diarra, the NGO’s local coordinator.

” ‘It can take much time to reach this goal, but I’m confident the initiative will succeed,’ he said.”

More here.

Photo: UN Climate Change Secretariat

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Thomas Daigle, an optician in Milford, Massachusetts, is a thrifty guy.

Writes Martine Powers in the Boston Globe, “Daigle, 60, has finally fulfilled the goal he set for himself decades ago: Arriving at the Milford Federal Savings and Loan Association in April with two 200-pound steel boxes, Daigle paid off the couple’s final mortgage payment with the contents — more than 62,000 pennies.

“That day was also the couple’s 35th wedding anniversary. Daigle hopes his story, first reported Wednesday in the Milford Daily News, will teach others the value of good old-fashioned long-term commitment.

“ ‘One of my sons always tells me, “Dad, you’re stuck in the ’50s,” ‘ Daigle said. ‘But it’s how you’re brought up, and it comes down to values.’ …

“It took the bank two days to count the coins, Daigle said, but it turned out his tally was exactly correct — to the cent. The sum was a little more than what Daigle owed, he said, but he did not ask for the surplus.

“ ‘I just wanted the pennies out of my house.’ ”

Wouldn’t you have liked to see the customers’ reactions when the 400 pounds of rolled up coins were delivered? But good for him. I value pennies, too.

Read more.

Photograph: Essdras M. Suarez/Globe

Thomas Daigle paid his last mortgage payment in pennies.


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