Category Archives: refurbishment

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Bought a house in Portugal is the boiler is safe

Bought a house in Portugal is the boiler is safe

 Old boilers,oil boilers, servicing boilers, gas boilers, gas installations, converting boilers,ventilation

Most people are so preoccupied with the location, views and the property structure when they buy a permanent homes holiday home in Portugal that they overlook a few things. One of the most common omissions is the hot water boiler or central heating boiler.

If you’re lucky you will just connect up the gas, fill up the oil or buy some logs and off you go.

It rarely happens that way of course.

Often the previous owners will remove the boilers, take out the wood burners and empty the oil storage tank. In between you paying your deposit and buying the property.

TOP TIP – write into the promissory contract that all boiler, heaters, and stoves are to be left in place.

Even if they are actually left in place you may find that the rusty brown sludge coming out of the hot tap is a little off putting.

The thing to understand is that unless the property is new less than 3 years old. Nothing will have been given an annual service and many gas boilers are as old as the house itself.

These badly installed serviced/checked water heaters can be a potential death trap due to carbon monoxide poisoning or faulty gas supplies.

Apart from 0 servicing the main problem in the flue even on modern installations in an effort to save money or make a little more money flue pipes from gas heaters and wood burning stoves are deliberately reduced in diameter so that a cheaper flue pipe can be used. Often there is a flue pipe but it is only a meter long which the home owner thinks is going all the way up the chimney as it should but isn’t. Another favorite with gas boilers is just to pass the flexible flue tube into the loft with no grill over it to prevent nests being built in the flue and so that the flue gasses cool in the loft space and because they are heavier than air the come back into the home. They may come back into the home another room, your child’s bedroom for instance Scary indeed!

Make sure that your boilers is fitted as the manufacturer dictates and that all flues exit to the outside of the property in the approved manner and make sure a grill is fitted over them to prevent birds nest from blocking them.

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Portuguese home warm in winter

When you are staying in Portugal for holidays or even living here for the warm nine months of the year it is almost impossible to contemplate how to make your Portuguese home warm in winter.

 Portuguese home warm in winter

All it will take is a week spent in a drafty, un-insulated apartment of house for you consider quitting Portugal for good.

I have met many people who complain that the coldest they have ever been in their lives is during a winter in Portugal.

Is Portugal cold?

No its not but what the main cause of complaints is about feeling cold is the massive difference in day to night temperature.

As an example 22 C degrees during your outdoor lunch to 2 or 3 C degrees at night and the cool down is very rapid indeed. It is felt with more impact because out bodies and clothing choices take longer to adapt.

Most people react rapidly to the problem by rushing off the following day to buy electric or portable gas heaters. These are not good solutions and are expensive to run.

I have written a few blog posts over the years about heating your home with wood burning stoves.

http://www.casteloconstruction.info/2017/01/06/condensation-on-your-windows/

http://www.casteloconstruction.com/

But where should you start to make your home during the winter.

Firstly you will have to accept that even if your home is fairly new you are unlikely to have any insulation in the walls or roof. Even if you do it is unlikely to be installed to a standard that you would expect in northern Europe.

Windows and doors will not be sealed as well as you would expect at home.

Most people keep their gas boilers until they fall apart. They will never have been serviced. The flue may be dangerous and the gas supply will no doubt need to be replaced to meet modern standards of safty. The boilers usually only heat the water too.

castelo construction, portugguese home warm in winter

Gas boiler

So this is an ideal place to start.

TIP- Budget to replace the gas supply from bottles to boiler. While you’re at it make the gas bottle connections suitable for 2 or even 4 large bottles of gas if you are over wintering in Portugal.

You will need to build a small “gas house” to house the bottles and keep them safe out of the sun/frost.

Now choose a boiler that will heat both hot water with an internal tank big enough to satisfy a long shower and also heat the radiators.

What is a big enough boiler?  It’s no good asking a local gas boiler vendor as they are usually responsible for some of the awful and often dangerous installations that we come across.

There is a way that you size your boiler and radiator requirements yourself or you can just ask Castelo Construction we will be happy to help.

Here is a link to a Heating Calculator – BTU Calculator which may come in handy for you.  https://www.plumbnation.co.uk/heating-calculator/

Also because your house in Portugal wont be well insulated I would advise upping the number of BTU’s that you calculate by 20% to make sure you will stay warm in the event of a cold snap.

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how long Removing render from stone houses

How long

 How long does it take to remove the cement render from a house wall and re-point between the stones with lime mortar.

Many people ask is it possible to remove the cement render from a house wall and re-point between the stones with lime mortar for a DIY enthusiast.

 

info@casteloconstruction.com

Cement render on stone house

We are asked these questions a lot. So here are the answers.

It obviously depends on the size of the stone house wall. This one is eight meters wide by 6.5 meters high.

Looking at it from the DIY perspective. Do you have enough scaffolding available to carry out the work safely? Are you confident standing and working on scaffolding at this height?.

Do you have all the tools for the job.  Renting tools in Portugal is very difficult you will need a large SDS hammer drill, scaffolding, chipping hammer, Very high-pressure jet wash (not one that you wash your car with) and re-pointing equipment.

How long? It all depends upon how fit you are as to how long it will take. A reasonable estimate would be 3 times the man hours that it takes us.

Our guys are professionals and work on this type of thing day in day out so they don’t need a lie down in the afternoon. Make no mistake you will hardly be able to raise your arms after the first day if you are doing this for the first time  I don’t care how fit you think you are.

The repetitive and very dusty work really is hard. Dust in your eyes constantly and large amounts of fine dust to breath in.

Cleaned and ready for pointing

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How long does it take to remove the cement render from a house wall

We had a team of two people working on this gable it took them two days to take off the old cement render which was on a south facing wall and baked on. The erecting of the scaffolding and high-pressure jet wash took another day. That’s 6 man days or you could say a week’s work for two people to get everything ready for pointing. There was also some stone to be replaced before the pointing.

If my reckoning is correct then it will take a DIYer 12 to 18 days of hard graft to make just the gable wall ready for pointing.

 

Much better to contact Castelo Construction  kelvin@casteloconstruction.com and have the work done for you at a reasonable price.

Castelo Construction Lda. Helps people like you to get the very best out of your new home in central Portugal.

Whether it is an old house that you want to refurbish or a new home which you want to construct. We help you to make the most of any property project with our professional, design, construction, project management and maintenance services.

Professionally managed services with full accountability ensure that you get what you want. On time and to budget. We work only with experienced and licensed tradesmen, architects and engineers to deliver exceptional results.