Category Archives: How to . . .

Our handy ‘How to . . .’ posts will help you carry out repairs and improvements. Though don’t always expect to do-it-yourself!

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Know the facts

Do you know the facts, are you sure that you know the facts when it comes to having building work or a renovation done.

“Ignorance may indeed be bliss” it’s also VERY expensive.

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Building Land Portugal
Know the facts

I was having lunch with some friends the other day and they told me that they were talking to some British friends about that often trotted out pieces of miss information

“The cost per meter square to build a home in Portugal”.



If there is one thing that makes my blood boil it is any statement on the price per M2 to build or renovate a home in Portugal.

I decided to do a quick demonstration of how insane this often bandied about value is.
We had two glasses of wine in front of us so I took a large drink out of mine taking the level down to about half that of my friends glass.

I asked if this full glass of wine cost 2 Euros then how much does this half full glass cost. The obvious answer that came back was 1 Euro because it was half the quantity.

The obvious answer is of course WRONG so I said  NO it could be 15 Euros because it could be better quality wine. It could even be 20 Euros if my glass was included in the sale.

What I was trying to demonstrate was how can you compare prices (Apples for Apples) as its often called if what you are actually comparing is Apples and Oranges!
The eventual price difference could have you left without enough money to finish the work.

A word of advise. Please take it.

If a builder Ever gives you a build price per square meter before he FULLY UNDERSTANDS EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT – Walk Away and keep walking.
The reason that I say this is because I know of many a building project which has been deliberately quoted without some vital elements missing which will be added later and charged at a higher profit margin.

Take for instance a house that you want to have built. You have agreed the price you are going to pay “Key in Hand” So you can sit back and relax and wait for the work to be done.

As the work is coming to a close you see that there are no gutters or drainpipes and as a result the mud outside the house is splashing dirt onto your nice new wall paint. Oh the paths, drives and patios are not included either oops!. What about the garden gates, top soil, fencing, Electricity supply and connection, water connection, Gas, Television. Handrails to the stairs, gas bottle store, garage door, mosquito blinds, post box I could go on and on but I will finish by saying that the short list above could cost 17,000 to 20 Thousand Euros on top of the cost of your Key in hand house price which makes a mockery of any price per square meter price anyone gives you.

If you want to know the facts about your new build or renovation project talk to Castelo Construction.

See our website at

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Bought an old house or apartment in Lisbon

If you have bought an old house or apartment in Lisbon are you sure that you did enough detective work before you purchased an old house or apartment in Lisbon.

 We are seeing more and more inquiries from people who have put an offer in for or have already bought an old house or apartment in Lisbon and are looking for advice and reassurance that the property they have bought is not a disastrous money pit.

We know the problems and pitfalls which come as part of the package when you buy an old house or apartment in Lisbon so it’s often surprising to see just how late in the purchase process people leave it.


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Bought an old house or apartment in Lisbon to refurb

Take for instance a typical old house in Lisbon it will be from around 1900 built of stone and timber with a clay tiled roof – What can go wrong it has been here for generations!

These houses are remarkably stable especially when you consider the lack of real foundations.

Over the years and through the many mild earth tremors they kind of slump a little into the adjoining ground and just stay up.

There are 3 main problems to be found in these houses and it is the same in every case.

1, Fragile, sun dried roof tiles.

These tiles break over time and allow water to enter the house walls and roof space causing rot on the timbers. Here a typical clients contact – “We have just purchased an house from 1930 in ******Lisboa, and are planning a renovation of it during the summer. It has some moisture problems, like marks on a few walls (allegedly from a leak from the roof a few years back), and some minor black spots in the ceiling in some rooms. Would appreciate a survey”

2, Extensive woodworm and wet rot in timbers.

As the tiles break over time and allow water to enter the house walls and roof space it cases dry and wet rot on the timbers. The water quickly penetrates structural timbers effected by wood worm with the result that the roof sags and can often collapse into the house or push out and break the external walls. Both of which are dangerous and very expensive to repair.

3, Even the best homes of this period suffer from damp in the lower walls.

Basements are often uninhabitable and at the very least on the ground floor there will be large patches of loose plaster, flaking paint and rotten floors.

These 3 things have to be sorted out before you start to remodel or decorate the property.

Castelo Construction can help you understand the potential problems and costs before you buy. Our independent reports can enable you to negotiate hard on the price of the property that you want to buy. Our estimates enable you to know exactly where you stand financially and what exactly needs doing to get the property back into good condition before you start to remodel or decorate.

Saving you thousands and cutting the time involved in getting your new home into a habitable condition.

Contact Castelo Construction by email here and be sure of what you are buying

 00351 927168247

Project managing in Portugal, castelo construction

Burst water supply pipe

What a pain, no toilets, showers washing machine or even water for tea.

We were called out as part of our 24 hour service and it had to be a Sunday didn’t it.

The home owner had noticed that his water pressure was fluctuating from low to normal. He never thought much about it because that can happen here. Don’t know why but it does.

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water leak

Sunday morning he tried to have a shower but the boiler wouldn’t work and there was hardly enough water in the kitchen tap to make a brew.


Just what you don’t need a problem like this on a Sunday.

As a last resort he spoke to his neighbors who all have plenty of water. He checked that someone had not turned his off by the water meter and noticed that it was turned on BUT the meter was whizzing around like a mad thing.

Not knowing what else to do he gave Castelo Construction a call and we concluded that he had a big water leak on his side of the water meter. We agreed to come out and take a look.finding the problem

Normally there is some logic as to the position of the water pipe from the meter into the house and there is a “Caixa de distribuição” distribution box inside the house.

This has the black high pressure water supply pipe going into a manifold and then distributed via PEC or copper pipe.


I this case there was no sigh of the black pipe (signature of a cowboy builder) We turned the water off in the house at what we assumed was the water entry point as nothing was marked and the house owner could not remember seeing the location of any pipes during the build.

We then had a detective task that would baffle Sherlock Holmes.

Where did the pipe go from the meter to the house?. You can use logic but I don’t think the original builders had any so it was difficult to guess.

Because we had turned off the water going into the house we knew that the problem was from the house to the meter. This required us to find the leek which was over a meter down and in a potential tube length of 30 meters.

We decided to dig a trench along the length of the drive until we found where the tube entered the house and then cut it off so that we could run a new pipe underground from this point to the water meter.

After digging for 3 meters and a meter down we found the problem. It was a broken T joint the black supply pipe had been jointed to the white PEC pipe underground. It had no conduit or protection so just pulled apart as the ground around it settled. The pipe is very strong but before it had broken it had been compressed by the weight of the earth above to being almost flat and closed.

It is a wonder the house had any water at all.

The solution was easy enough to apply 3 new joints, a meter of pipe conduit and joint tape less than 20 Euros of materials. The real cost came in the two people working for 6 hours and the cost of the digger.

Not that our client cared he had his water back on and was happy.

You are in safe hand with Castelo Construction contact us for all your building questions