A WOMAN who bought a "one euro" house in Italy has estimated it could soon be worth almost half a million pounds.
Meredith Tabbone invested in cheap property in the Italian village where her grandparents grew up and has converted it into a home that she thinks will be worth £400k
It all started when she heard that councils in rural Sicily were auctioning off abandoned houses with a one euro starting bid, in an attempt to regenerate the village.
The 43 year old from Chicago snapped up a 1600s disused building – just "one big room" over a basement – in Sambuca di Sicilia.
The building had no electricity or running water, and the roof was "thick with asbestos".
While bids for the abandoned homes started at just a euro Meredith ended up paying £4,400 for the property.
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She then spent €750 (£661) to hire a team to remove the roof in an environmentally-safe way.
Meredith then bought the empty home next door for a further £27,000 and spent 46 months – and £210,000 – knocking them together to build a 3,000sqft four bed holiday home.
She said she plans to stay in the house part-time and use it as a vacation house.
She has also splashed out on two guest houses in the same village for £28k in total, and a disused building for £58k, which she's turning into a gallery and café.
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She estimates her £230k investment in the original one euro house will be eventually worth £3-400k once all the work is completed in autumn this year.
Meredith said: "The house was in very bad condition – but in many ways, it was everything I expected it to be and more. It had so much charm!
"It had such interesting architectural detail – you could really see the history coming through the walls. But it was a fixer-upper, to say the least.
"When we first saw the house – it was 750 square feet, it had no electricity, running water or windows – and it was thick with asbestos.
"At first, the plan was just to turn it into a small getaway house.
"While we originally just wanted it as a tiny getaway – we've turned it into a dream home.
"It's very large and intricate – there are four beds, four baths, an outdoor kitchen, a living and a dining area.
"We've also installed an upper terrace, lower terrace, spa and wine cellar – as well as a fireplace and a pizza oven."
Meredith Tabbone knew her dad Michael's side of the family came from Sicily, but didn't know any more until she began researching how to get an Italian citizenship in 2016.
She discovered his great-grandfather, Fillippo Tabbone, came from Sambuca di Sicilia, a small village in Sicily.
In January 2019 – one year into applying for her Italian citizenship – Meredith read an article about people bidding on one-euro houses in Italy.
On a "whim", she placed a bid on a "run-down fixer-upper" in Sambuca.
She found out she had won it in May 2019 and started work a month later. In August 2020, she bought the home next door via a private sale.
With the help of an architect Meredith converted the one-room building into a four-bedroom holiday home.
They installed doors, windows and walls – as well as burying electrical wires – to turn the building into a home.
She bought two guest houses nearby in March 2022 and another empty building in March 2021, and work is currently underway, due to be complete in late 2024.
Meredith provided three tips for anyone who is interested in investing in one of the properties.
She urged people to be patient, learn the local language if possible and to have fun with it.
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Meanwhile, here is everything you need to know about buying and renovating a €1 house in Italy.
And this is what it's really like to buy and own one of the cheap homes.
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