A woman has revealed how she bought a cheap property in the Italian village where her grandparents grew up and transformed it into her dream home.
Meredith Tabbone, 43, from chicagoIt was heard that town councils in Sicily were auctioning off abandoned houses with a starting bid of €1 to regenerate the town.
The building had no electricity or running water and the roof was covered in asbestos.
Bidding started at just €1, but she placed a random bid of £4,400 and discovered months later that she had been the successful buyer.
It cost Meredith €750 (£661) to hire a team to remove the roof in an environmentally friendly way.
Meredith then bought the empty house next door for £27,000 and spent 46 months and £210,000 putting it together to build a 3,000 sq ft four-bedroom getaway.
He plans to stay at the house part-time and calls it his “extended vacation home.”
Meredith has since bought two guest houses in the same village for £28,000 in total, and a disused building for £58,000 which she is converting into a gallery and cafe.
She estimates her £230,000 investment in the original one-euro house will be worth between £3 and £400,000 when all the work is completed in autumn 2023.
Meredith said: “The house was in very poor condition but in many ways it was everything I expected and more.”
‘He had so much charm! It had such interesting architectural details that you could really see the history through the walls. But it was a fixer-upper, to say the least.
‘When we first saw the house it was 750 square feet, had no electricity, running water or windows and was full of asbestos. At first, the plan was to simply turn it into a small getaway house.
‘Although we originally only wanted it as a short getaway, we have turned it into our dream home.
‘It’s very big and intricate. There are four beds, four bathrooms, an outdoor kitchen, a living room and a dining room.
“We’ve also installed an upper terrace, a lower terrace, a spa and a wine cellar, as well as a fireplace and a pizza oven.”
Meredith Tabbone knew that her father Michael’s family came from Sicily.
But he didn’t know more until he started researching how to obtain Italian citizenship in 2016.
He discovered that his great-grandfather, Fillippo Tabbone, came from Sambuca di Sicilia, a small town in Sicily.
In January 2019, a year after applying for Italian citizenship, Meredith read an article about people bidding on €1 houses in Italy.
On a “whim,” he made an offer on a “dilapidated fixer-upper” in Sambuca.
He found out he had won it in May 2019 and started working a month later.
In August 2020, he purchased the house next door through a private sale.
With the help of an architect, Meredith converted the one-room building into a four-bedroom vacation home.
They installed doors, windows and walls, as well as burying electrical cables, to turn the building into a home.
It purchased two nearby guesthouses in March 2022 and another empty building in March 2021. Work is currently underway and will be completed by the end of 2024.
Sharing her top three tips for renovating a property abroad, Meredith said: “Be patient, the process will take time, learn the local language if you can and have fun.”