"Our experience of Sicilian builders has been a positive one!"
Paul Pontone and Chris Moss featured in the last series of Home or Away? choosing between Bournemouth and Sicily, after running a French B&B. They bought a three-bed home in Noto for £152,600 last summer and, a year on, Paul gives us the update...
"We moved into their new home in the Sicilian countryside in August and our friend Hazel followed us from Normandy at the end of the same month. Work started in October and we employed a local architect and a large team of builders. Our villa was all but gutted as new openings were made, walls were knocked down and we got a modern open-plan living area with picture windows leading onto a spacious veranda with spectacular views of the sea, the countryside, Mount Etna and across to the stunning island of Ortigia.
"We created three good-sized bedrooms so that we can have family and friends to stay and, of course, Chris has his dream kitchen with a huge central island so that we can entertain. Our Sicilian friends were absolutely amazed that their Christmas deadline was met and despite some very stressful moments, our experience with Sicilian builders has been a positive one. There have been the inevitable hiccups but me being able to speak Italian helped enormously.
"The building work came in almost on budget at €120,000 although we have had to put our dream of having a swimming pool on hold for the time being. Still, we are less than ten minutes from the beach and try to swim every day in a pool that costs nothing and doesn't need any maintenance.
"I started work at a private school in October and am working for a colleague and friend who I knew in Sicily 25 years ago and who subsequently established her own school. Chris has now started Italian lessons at the school and we both enjoying Sicily's outdoor lifestyle of open air concerts, ballet and cafe culture. We've also acquired a gorgeous Jack Russell puppy called Cannella (Cinnamon) who loves her morning swim just as much as her Dads!