Category Archives: Building in Portugal

Anything related to building or renovating property in Central Portugal

Doors through stone house walls

Doors through stone house walls

You have found the ideal property in Portugal; perhaps it’s a traditional stone built house with lots of character but not much interior light.

It could be for instance that you want to gain access a nice area of the garden without going around the house or your plans for remodeling the interior space require a new entrance door through stone house walls.

Doors through stone house walls, Houseinpenela,

Doors through stone house walls

How do you do it, can it actually be done, what are the potential problems.

Castelo Construction has been carrying out this type of structural work for many years and with very good results. You can have a normal width door or even patio style doors knocked through your brick or stone walls even if they are over a meter thick.


How do you do it?

With a great deal of care and experience. This may sound obvious but taking a section out of the structural walls of a building can be very dangerous because of falling stones and debris. The work is usually done with three people.

Can it actually be done?

Because you are altering the structure of a home it is very important to make sure in advance that it can be achieved. It is not a case of trying a location and seeing what happens next. Our craftsmen understand the stresses and building methods that they have to deal with which requires years of experience.

Doors through stone house walls,penelahouse

patio doors through stone house walls

What are the potential problems?

If the stone walls of house have an uneven amount of stress they can buckle and collapse if a hole is cut in the side of them.

Remember the stones in old houses are only held together with mud. You can experience the effect of cutting a large hole in a house by cutting a hole in a cardboard box.  You will see that it immediately becomes unstable.

Which is why we use our many years of experience a great deal of care and tried a trusted techniques to support the house while the work is being carried out.

It is important to understand how dangerous this kind of work can be. In the UK last year  11% of workers suffered serious injury from falling objects.

“demolition sites pose particular dangers”

 To discuss your building in Portugal contact

Doors through stone house walls,Doors through brick house walls

Doors through house walls



Condensation on your windows

At this time of year do you suffer from condensation on your windows in bedrooms?

We have noticed it in a lot of homes even with newly installed double glazing and this shows a potentially large problem or two.

Take for instance the windows. If they are double glazed there is no way that they should have condensation on the inside pane of glass. If they are affected by condensation it is probably because the gap between the glass is not sealed and filled with inert gas like Argon it is just filled with normal air (not even dried filtered air) and this is very common in Portugal.

For independent information, we recommend you take a look at.

A double glazing window comprises two panes of glass, separated by a spacer bar and seals to create a hermetically-sealed environment. The cavity width between the two panes, air or another gas filling used and the type of spacer bar, are all key factors in the unit’s final energy, solar and acoustic insulation properties. Which dictate condensation or not!

The cavity is filled under vacuum conditions with either dehydrated air or an inert gas to improve insulation and prevent condensation within the unit. Depending on the gas filling used and the type of window, the cavity width for a double glazing window is generally between 4 to 20 mm.

Condensation on your windows, castelo construction, portugal builder,builder in Portugal

Condensation on your windows

The recommended cavity width for Low E energy saving double glazing window when filled with dehydrated air is 16mm – and 14mm when the cavity is filled with argon gas.

Less heat transmission with double glazing window and a warmer home

The physical properties of the dehydrated air used in the cavity means that it transmits (ie loss) less heat by convection or conduction than normal air. This is because the molecules of dehydrated air are relatively immobile, and therefore have a ‘lower thermal conductivity’. The same physical properties of dehydrated air also give it lower acoustic conductivity, for improved sound insulation.

If normal atmospheric air is used the performance of the panel’s is further reduced.

Double glazing window energy efficiency can be further increased by substituting dehydrated air with an inert gas, such as argon, xenon or krypton within the unit. Argon, which has 34% lower thermal conductivity than air, is the most commonly used. Although argon-filled units cost around 5% more than air-filled units, they can improve a double glazing window’s U-value or energy rating by over 30%. Argon fillings should last the lifetime of a double glazing window and over a period of 25 years should not lose more than 5%.

Which begs the question – Why do the local window suppliers do it. Use air I mean it can only be because they make more profit.

If you are buying windows in Portugal ask the supplier to give you a written assurance that an inert gas has been used to fill the glazing panels.

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multiple building projects

We have worked together with a several clients on multiple building projects.

They tell us that they like the regular communication and photo reports that we send every two weeks. It gives them the all-important confidence that they know what’s going on and can see progress even when they are not in Portugal.

Obviously it is easier to relax on your second building project after having completed satisfactory their first.

The most common fear new clients have is not being in control of – finances, design, timescales and finishes.

 Castelo Construction use a detailed spreadsheet list which include everything from when the kitchen should be ordered to save delays or when the final list of tiles should be provided so that we all know that the materials will be on site ready for the craftsmen and that there is no hanging about.


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It is true that Portuguese time is not British time. It’s good to understand this because in order to keep the building process moving we have to look ahead all the time. Take August for instance. Not all builders close down in Portugal during August. BUT as most materials come by truck through Spain which does close for all of August there is very little availability during that Month which can build massive delays into a project.

Take for instance your central heating system. You may be tempted to buy one that you saw when you lived in Copenhagen or Scotland. It may have been super-efficient and bright and shiny but are there any certified engineers here in this part of Portugal who can service or fix it if it goes wrong. There may be a clause for instance which requires the system to be fitted by a certified installer and if not the warranty is not valid.  Which is quite a risk to take.

You can rely upon our recommendations of manufactures of heating cooling, kitchens, windows and so on. Because we have worked with them already have some clout with them and they understand our timescales and quality standards.

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