Category Archives: Living in Portugal

Practical advice and recommendations to enhance your life in Portugal.

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Modernizing, refurbishing or renovation of an old house in Portugal

Modernizing, refurbishing or renovation of an old house in Portugal

If you are about to start modernizing, refurbishing or renovation of an old house in Portugal or would like to buy and old house in Portugal

You have come to the right place

Here are some of the most common mistakes that people make when they decide to renovate their own homes, so you can avoid potential pitfalls and have a successful build that rewards you with a fantastic home in the end.

 

You would imagine that there would be an easy to locate and understand check list for doing this wouldn’t you?

A simple list in order of importance that people like you could follow and cut out the stress from modernizing, refurbishing or renovation of an old house in Portugal.

Unfortunately we often meet people who have started half way down the list because they either didn’t know about it or got carried away and then have to back track at great cost in order to cover all the important bases.

Don’t get me wrong it’s a perfectly understandable thing to do if you are sitting in a cold rainy UK, Germany or Holland dreaming of your ideal place to live in the sun.

I am guilty myself of sketching floor plans and elevation plans of my modernizing, refurbishing or renovation of an old house in Portugal.

One design even had an increased floor area of 50% which was impossible to achieve. I do realize that you are not alone!

The first consideration is the. Location, location, location.

Have you established for certain that the modernizing, refurbishing or renovation of an old house in Portugal can be legally carried out you need to establish what the finished property would sell on for when you are ready.

That is the value of “the property” that you are going work on after the work is done and not local properties.

Obviously you need 2 or 3 professional opinions on this.

The reason that I stress this valuation is that many people come here and spend a fortune on modernizing, refurbishing or renovation of an old house in Portugal and blindly expect the property to be highly valuable after the work.

Take for instance this picture as an example.

 

Modernizing, refurbishing or renovation of an old house in Portugal

Value per square foot of property

 

 Property website Zoopla has calculated the typical square footage value of a property in different parts of the UK.

Although it is based on UK data it holds true for Portugal as well. If you spend 30,000 Euros on the same property in different locations you will raise the value of the property by different amounts. Do not expect the cost of your 100,000 refurbishment to be recouped unless you have the correct design, standard of building work and LOCATION.

Lets start looking at practicalities –

Is there access for construction vehicles. Is the ground and existing walls suitable for building on without huge additional cost.

Can you actually fit the size of home that you want on the plot with outbuildings and a swimming pool (are you sure).

Is there water and power nearby that won’t be difficult or take a long time to make utility connections so that you can live in the finished home.

Plans drawings sketches, photographs. Do you have a firm idea of the property changes and additions that you want to make. Number of bedrooms, size and number of floors.

You probably do and you may be one of the 10% who has the work required all listed so that an accurate work quotation can be made by your chosen builder.

The rest seam to design as they go along which is the most expensive way to carry out the work by far.

We are often asked to give a ball park renovation price for a property that people have not yet even bought.

How can anyone give a price for work that is not described in even the briefest detail?

Here are the  5 top mistakes people make when modernizing, refurbishing or renovation of an old house in Portugal

 

  1. Designing Without a Strategy or budget
  2. Not Picturing Family Dynamics When choosing an old property
  3. Thinking the Cost of All Square Foot refurbishments Is Equal
  4. Choosing a technically complicated refurbishment because they saw it on TV
  5. Incorporating Excessive Extras

 

Many people dream of buying a property next to a lake or river in rural Portugal. castelo construction

Rain pouring into their home

Rain pouring into their home

 

The winter is on its way at last and we are suffering storm force winds and heavy rain with occasional hailstones so it won’t be long before we receive calls from people who say they have rain pouring into their homes.

 

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Rain pouring into their home

We all rest easy here in Portugal during the long spring and summer month. Our motivation is to find shade not think about rain and hour home flooding or leaking.

That’s why it’s a shock to the system when it actually happens.

Rains pouring into their home where does it come from

 

The roof,

Adjoining buildings

Under the external doors

Through the window frames

Through the floor

These are the most likely problem areas –

Missing or broken roof tiles, Bent or rusted through roof flashings, Blocked gutters and downpipes. Miss aligner roof tiles due to the roof timbers sagging.

Adjoining buildings – usually it’s down to bent or rusted through flashings between the two houses, it could also be caused by an internal rainwater pipe built into the wall.

Under the external doors – Portuguese doors rarely incorporate a thresh system and use a piece of stone or marble. The wind can simply blow the water under the door. You can install a thresh by simply cutting the door and installing one underneath.

Through the window frames – The window frames in Portuguese houses and apartments are fitted with a damp proof course around them like they are in the uk. They rely on a thin bead of silicon sealer the keep out the rain. Trouble is these silicon joints are often applied to damp stone or render so don’t stick properly. You may have to cut them out and reapply silicon on a warm dry day.

Through the floor – This is usually the most problematic area. We are used to damp floors here in old houses and some more recent builds!. The floor will not have had a damp proof course installed so when there is a sudden downpour rain from outside cam come under the house and appear in pools on your ground floors. This problem can be treated but it is very disruptive and costly. Insist on a damp proof membrane being installed.

 

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Cracked walls

Cracked walls

 

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cracked walls

Horizontal cracking, vertical cracking, angular cracking, crazing, blown render, stone wall, stone house wall, damaged wall, damaged render, render replacement.

I was asked to look at a Portuguese house recently which had suffered with the external walls cracking. The couple were about to buy the property but wanted to make sure that the cracking wasn’t recent and that is was not going to get worse. Obviously they didn’t want to put their hard earned money into a money pit.

 We don’t have a crystal ball so you have to research the property and look for evidence.

Here are a few things we look for. New building close by, land slippage, flooding, property extensions, part demolitions of connected out buildings or adjoining properties. Cellar excavations or new drainage installations.

Then we start to look at the overall structure. How is the property built, with what materials and methods. Is the roof old, is it straight or sagging, what is the condition of the main roof timbers. Do they have splits, cracks or breakages are they suffering from bad woodworm infestation.

Then we look inside the property to see if there are cracks matching those outside on the inside. Is there evidence of rain water entering the cracks and passing to the inside of the property.

Once we have established that there are no obvious and serious external factors causing the cracks we can look at the types of cracks Horizontal cracking, vertical cracking, angular cracking, crazing, blown render, stone wall, stone house wall, damaged wall, damaged render individually.

It is not often appreciated that most old Properties in Portugal do hot have what we would call foundations in northern Europe.

They relied upon building flexible walled houses that would move slightly over time and settle into the ground. Ground frost is not usually a problem here so the houses stay viable for a couple of hundred years.

It takes many years of construction experience and many years of Portuguese building method experience to be able to read property problems.

If you are contemplating buying a property in Portugal contact Kelvin@casteloconstruction.com and we will be pleased to help.