Sounds like a wonderful town and lovely homes. It's been ages since I visited Tuscany, but the next time I go I'll definitely rent a home!
Here's what you need to do to figure out what remodeling makes sense:
Look at prices of your competitors -- how much rent do they charge for a 2 BR, 3 BR, 4 BR, ... home? Are there any competitors with a pool? How much more do they charge? That will tell you how much additional rent you might be able to earn if you add an extra bedroom or a pool; you'll also have to make some realistic assumptions about occupancy rates (check the availability schedules of homes in your area). Figure out how long (years) it will take to recoup your investment and decide if the investment is worth it compared to other ways to use your money.
You should also compare your furnishings with your competitors. It's much cheaper to upgrade by painting and buying a few new pieces of furniture and nice linens than it is to remodel a home. In fact, I would advise you to do that first and see whether you get more bookings without a huge investment.
I don't know your market at all, of course. But my house was originally configured as two units -- a 2-bedroom apartment and the "main" part of the house with 6 bedrooms. I thought I could earn more rent with the two units. However, I soon found out that the big family reunions that are the bulk of my business all preferred to have the whole house to themselves -- they didn't want to rent half a house and were always nervous about who would be in the other unit. So now I rent both units together, one big place -- I get more rent, and they get privacy. If your market is typically large groups, then I wouldn't make an apartment in your basement, I'd add bedrooms and a bathroom to the rest of the house. But if your market is mostly couples or one family, then a separate apartment might be appealing.
Thanks for the reply Carol
I think at this point we are deciding if we want to make a large push all at once or do the upgrades slowly over time. Upper end homes in our area look like these
I don't think we can quite reach that level simply because we are not a stand alone villa. We do have the plus of being very close to a golf course though, and the vews are absolutly spectacular.
A place like this
is totally doable for us though, and we basically have two of these plus a smaller apartment if we did want to go that rout.
I think I like the idea of having several different sized units so that I can capture as many different retal types as I can. Tuscany brings in all types, so that couple looking for a cozy spot in the mountains can take the small apartment, while that huge family can take the big house or all three at once. And there is always the possibiliyt of sending spill-over from a very large group to our neighbors.
We agree with Carol that a thorough look at properties near you or in the same general area is a good idea. If you want to retain your printmaking studio, then our first thought was to go ahead and move it to the basement of the larger house, assuming it would have its own entrance and would not inconvenience your guests upstairs. That configuration would give you two separate houses and make the smaller house into a 3 bedroom. If you have a large party, they could rent both houses but if two parties, they would both have privacy.
Just our thoughts. And we would love to get back to Italy!
Thanks for the input. That's exactly what we are thinking at this point. The studio would also be built out in such a way that we would be laying the groundwork for an eventual apartment. We would pour a cement floor suitable for tiling later, but would leave the tile off, and simply finish the cement. We would put in plumbing for an eventual bathroom/kitch (two sides of one wall probably), but not finish it out untill we are ready to convert it.
I think we have a heck of a lot of potential here.