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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


the people we meet

I love this picture don’t you?

I love it for a slightly strange reason. For me it is like a metaphor for the people we meet.

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The people we meet

The people who come over to Portugal to buy a home, holiday home, make a new start, get back to nature. Whatever the reasons that they are here in Portugal they often share a very similar trait.

Only a few (like the 2 boys looking up) behave in a way that will give them what they want in Portugal. It may be that most people are not sure what they want, just want to get out of their past lives or need a rest.

There always seems to be something driving the decision to come here.

The one thing all these people have in common is that they all need a home. Most will buy new or renovate and extend.

This is when one of the worst traits is displayed. A blatant disregard for Portugal’s planning laws and the consequences should you be the muggins that gets caught.
There are dozens of blogs and forums where people openly talk about doing things without planning permission, building licenses or architects drawings. It could be that the lack of Portuguese language is holding people back from asking or perhaps the drive to save money or to be independent. Whichever it all comes down to the same thing Bad News!

When you get that registered letter through the post. You have no one to tun to.

Another group is the DIY builders. Not trained, experienced builders but enthusiastic amateurs. The sort of people who do not have any construction or liability insurance or the ability/financial backing to take responsibility when you the new owner or one of your grandchildren gets electrocuted, falls down the badly designed stairs or through a railing.

Then there is subtle hard to spot things like the sewerage system contaminating the homes water supply. Nice..   You literally will have no one to turn too.

I am not attacking DIY fans at all. I am advising them to do only the work that you are allowed to do when building or renovating a home in Portugal. Some of the work will require a builder with a license and insurance some will not (do you know for sure).

Having rescued a couple of stopped building projects in the past and suffered the hassle of sorting them out it is not something that Castelo Construction get involved in anymore.

Buying property in the historical zones

An apartment or house in an old part of Portugal can be a great place to really get the feel of Portugal. If you are interested in buying property in the historical zones here is some food for thought.

  With property in the historical zones you also get food shops, restaurants, cafes and bars only a few steps away. It is the sort of lifestyle that you can live without driving and when you get tired of walking around and exploring the area like a tourist you can easily catch public transport.

Something that not at all east out in the rural areas. You could go for some higgledy piggledy urban pile or go up market and buy a grand apartment or villa much loved by bankers and politicians.

If you are buying in a historic zone there may well be some restrictions as to what you can and cant do to the property. They will in no way be as bad as you may be used to or affected by in Northern Europe however they should be looked into and understood before you pay any cash or put pen to paper.

Both Porto and Lisbon have fabulous river views and these properties as you would expect are priced at a premium.
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apartment or house in an old part of Portugal

Here is my personal check list when buying any old property in a historical zone.

1, Check what the restrictions on changes to the facade and structure are.

2, Have the place checked out by a surveyor before you sign anything or pay anything.

3, It is an old property so it will have woodworm and damp – make a reserve in your funds for  20% of the refurbishment cost.

4, The cost of work due to the higgledy piggledy nature of these old buildings and access restrictions will be higher. Add 30% to your estimates for refurbishment costs.

5, Access, you may have shared access or responsibility to the roof and other common areas.
Remember that the reason its shabby chique is that people especially elderly people
(your new neighbors) don’t want to spend money on maintenance especially when the “foreign millionaire” has just moved in!

6, Sort out the thermal insulation before you start looking at tiles, paint and furniture.
Being cold to the bone in a place that’s hard to heat will get you down and stop being a pleasure to live in.

7, Sort out the noise insulation. Portuguese people are amazingly friendly, very sociable and love living together as an extended family. This can make for a level of noise that you are not used to. Add to this their habit of having the radio and television on in the same room, barking dogs and screaming children. You may very soon have less hair that you started out with.