Home > Our house > New hat, no knickers

New hat, no knickers

“New hat, no knickers” is a West Country phrase used to describe a person concerned with appearances rather than the basics of comfort and decency.

To a certain extent it can be applied to our house.

It’s a beautiful house. From the front it looks slightly like a castle and from the back, its regular windows make it look a litle bit like a stately home.

It was completed only 6 years ago and complies with modern anti-seismic regulations, which  makes sense seeing as the only reason for its existence is as a replacement for a farmhouse destroyed  by the infamous 1997 earthquake that wrecked half of Umbria.

Corbels, and flight holes for the mythical doves

It was designed to look like a traditional country house with a rather squat tower, which in our case masquerades as a dovecot. There are even cute little flight-holes for the doves, each with a sill for them to sit on. But no dove would ever get in or out because there isn’t even a hole.

There are 2 round windows, one each side of the tower – or so it looks from the outside. From the inside there’s no trace of them.

The fake theme is continued in the wooden corbels, which don’t support anything and are in fact stuck on under the eaves over slabs of terracotta.

But insulation? A damp-proof course? Cavity walls? Not a chance. This is Italy where the sun always shines.

At this time of year I have a running battle with grey shadows of mould where the walls meet the ceilings. I use a very effective spray, which kills the mould dead on the spot and doesn’t affect the paintwork – except if the paintwork is pink, which it is in our largest room.

I can’t quite work out, in a country devoted to improving energy efficiency, which link has broken in the chain formed by planners, architects, geometras and builders, and how it is that well-established weather-proofing techniques can be ignored in a modern build.

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  1. February 19, 2012 at 2:28 am

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