Building a dream house together: How Marco and Irene use Dropbox

Building a house with Dropbox

Almost everyone daydreams about building the perfect home someday, but what does it take to actually do it? For Marco and Irene, a married couple living in Italy, it took patience, persistence, and a lot of paperwork to make their dream home a reality. But with a little help from Dropbox, they were able to stay organized along the way.

In 2012, shortly after they were married, Marco and Irene decided to build a house in Arpino, a town just outside of Rome. Although the property they purchased included a house, it was very old. The existing building needed to be torn down and rebuilt — almost entirely from scratch.

There was also one other hurdle: “In Italy, you need a big fat file of papers to build something,” says Marco, a computer engineer. In other words, they first had to get all the necessary paperwork and permits in order to start construction. To navigate the local bureaucracy smoothly, it was essential for them to be thorough and organized.

Meanwhile, they started to look for design inspiration. This was, after all, their chance to build their dream home. A teacher by day, Irene devoted her evenings to gathering ideas for everything from layout to paint colors and decorations. “Irene spent entire nights thinking about how to design the new house,” Marco recalls, “because she wanted it to be perfect.”

That’s when the couple began using Dropbox to save and share all their house-related files. They’d both been using Dropbox individually to store a few documents and photos, but when their house project got underway, they created a shared folder called “Irene & Marco.”

The shared folder contains everything the couple needed to build their house: paperwork, plans, and all of Irene’s ideas. “Irene started saving ideas for the house in our shared folder,” explains Marco. “I would then check them out at work and tell her what I thought. After the first week, she’d come up with 42 different projects for the new house.”

For the next several months, they continued to add copies of every contract, permit, and receipt related to the house to the shared folder. By keeping all their files safely stored and organized in Dropbox, Marco and Irene could easily access them whenever they needed it.

“Thanks to our smartphones and the Dropbox mobile app, every bit of information we collected was available to us any time and anywhere,” says Marco. “We always had everything at our fingertips. So when the time came for getting another permit from a local agency, we could just pull up the required papers on our phones.”

As construction progressed, they also saved photos of the building in its various stages. “We’d take pictures of anything at the construction site that was changing or getting covered by something else,” explains Marco. The photos proved to be useful when Marco and Irene needed to drill a few holes in the building. By this point, it had walls, a roof, running water, and electricity. “Looking at the pictures we’d saved in our shared folder,” Marco says, “we were able to avoid drilling into one of the 220-volt wires and water pipes.”

Building a dream house with Dropbox

Three years, two kids, countless documents, and hundreds of photos later, Marco and Irene slept in their new home for the first time last January. The next morning after breakfast, they gathered around the kitchen table with their older son Giovanni to take a family photo. As Marco explains, they wanted to “celebrate the first day of our new life together.”

While uploading the photo to Dropbox though, Irene noticed it wasn’t quite picture perfect. Sitting on the kitchen table was a crumpled ball of tissues. “I remember my wife telling me, ‘Oh no, the picture is ruined,’” says Marco.

Fortunately, Marco was able to save the day. “Irene instantly shared the picture with me on Dropbox, and through a bit of editing in Photoshop,” Marco explains, “I was able to remove the tissues and share it back with her using Dropbox.”

First breakfast in the new house

With the house now complete, Marco and Irene continue to use their shared folder to save pictures of their children. They also use the Carousel app to view all the photos they’ve taken. “My older son is two years old now, and I can already see the tiny differences in his face as he’s growing day by day,” says Marco. “Sometimes Irene and I scroll through pictures on Carousel together just to notice those little differences.”

“We really are a Dropbox family,” adds Marco. “Dropbox keeps us close and lets us hold on to our dreams.”