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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.

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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.