English-speaking builders in Portugal
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How to choose a builder in Portugal.
You may be in the position of needing someone to build your new home in Portugal or to carry out refurbishment work on your old house in Portugal. You may just want a swimming pool and patio built or an extension. Where do you start.
We have often seen people posting on the expat orientated sites asking people to recommend a good “English-speaking builder in Portugal”.
This may be opening up a can of worms tackling such a topic but there is some good advise and pitfalls to avoid highlighted in the following.
We believe that working with a builder on your new home or beloved rustic property is a little like going on holiday with friends. You feel that you trust them and like them at the beginning but at the end of the holiday you either never want to see them again or feel that they have added greatly to your holiday enjoyment. Trouble is its hard to tell before you arrange your trip !
Lets look at some basics. Most people want to deal with someone who they can communicate freely with which normally means that they speak the clients language fluently.
So far so good. If the builder is not British he may be able to speak the language but is unlikely to have the life experience to understand the nuances, fashions, descriptive terms used and so on. This often leads to expensive mistakes the rectification of which will have to be paid for, normally by you.
To give an easy example we work with two different firms of architects who speak fluent English. Both of whom contact us regularly to ask us what is meant by such and such a phrase. The fact that they have to contact us causes delay in their work and often requires us to meet with them to fully describe or draw what was meant by the phrase. Its not a problem for us but it highlights that even in email communication words have many meanings.
Obviously clear communication is essential for a successful project.
We have mentioned the builders and Architects but what about the other side of the coin the clients. Very often without realizing it the clients don’t communicate with each other before starting the construction process. Nor do they communicate clearly what they want. They frequently change their minds during the building process or let the builder decide what to do This often leads to expensive mistakes the rectification of which will have to be paid for.
We work like the pivot of a child’s seesaw. Client on one side and builders,electricians, architects, planners, carpenters, plumbers and tilers on the other. A major part of our role is to keep the seesaw level and we do this with very good communication between all parties. We use Skype calls, emails, architects plans, lots of photographs, web links and sketches and of course face to face site meetings.
It’s crucial to allow the clients to change their minds and to give them time and space for their decision process. Equally the decisions must be planned so that materials are not bought and then can not be used.
Occasionally we see English construction workers offering to come to Portugal to carry out construction work on behalf of people living here. This may solve the builder client communication problem but what about the others. How do they buy materials at a good price without speaking Portuguese. Communicate with Council planning officers, architects and the utility suppliers.
They will not have a Portuguese building license nor insurance will not know the Portuguese building regulations or methods.
English speaking builders in Portugal