Project managing in Portugal, castelo construction

Project managing in Portugal

 Are you about to do some project managing in Portugal.

You may be undertaking a small refurbishment and redecoration or you may be undertaking a major new build or complete renovation.

You may have done it all before and have already experienced and learned from some of the pit falls so are keen and excited to be getting things moving.

Do you require the services of a Project Manager?

Maybe you don’t because you have done it before and have the scars to prove it. You have spent an age chatting on the forums and are now “prepared” to start.

If you have not project managed in Portugal there are some peculiarities to working here that you need to be aware of.

These “peculiarities” can be very time consuming, costly and frustrating beyond belief.

Here are my top tips


The language barrier coupled with the comprehension of what a foreigner actually expects.

Explanation – If you are lucky enough to find people in authority who will speak your language then at least you can communicate. Many people that you will have to communicate with and who speak English simply will not.

Communication is one thing Comprehension or lack of it is another thing all together. Take for example the builder that you decide to work with. EVERYTHING that you want in your home from the quality of materials, safety features, finishes, room sizes, damp proofing, kitchen and bathrooms will be VERY different from his day to day experience.

I have lost count of the number of times that I have heard people say. “We told him we wanted *** and he just went ahead and did what he thought we wanted”. We were left with the decision to take it down and replace it at our cost or put up with it.

There are some very good reasons why you should use a project manager. Ability to ensure you get exactly what you want during the building process.

Communication and Comprehension

Translation of documents, meetings with architects, suppliers and on site meetings. You can also save money by using their contacts and supplier relationships.

Be aware that People who happen to be able to speak some Portuguese may not be qualified to manage your project or able to clearly articulate a technical or complicated series of construction related questions. Poor communication with officials is what often causes files to be placed at the bottom of the work pile.

The title Project Manager is bandied about a lot here. But what does it mean?


Project management is the discipline of planning, organizing, securing, and managing resources to achieve specific goals. A project is a temporary endeavor with a defined beginning and end (usually time-constrained, and often constrained by funding or deliverables). It is undertaken to meet unique goals and objectives. In practice, the management of construction projects is often very different from the types of Project Management done in companies.

It is a much more broad based discipline and as such requires distinct technical skills and management strategies. Not all technical people are cut out to be project managers.

People who happen to speak some Portuguese may not be qualified to manage your project.

Experienced project managers may not be interested in working on the very broad scope of activities involved in construction in Portugal with remotely based clients.

 What does the ideal Project Manager look like?


Someone who is construction qualified. Has previous experience of working on large and small projects. Preferably, in more than just his home country.

Computer literate. Understands the need for concise and clear, written and verbal communication. Can manage and motivate the construction team, 3rd party suppliers and Architects. Has good relationship in the local council and planning departments.

 Speaks Portuguese and your native language. Most importantly has the ability to talk through options with you and planning departments, Architects, Engineers Suppliers either in design or materials to be used so that you can make informed decisions and have your questions answered properly.


The project manager should also be able to save you his fee in negotiating discounts from suppliers.

    What is the role of the client?

Having any building or refurbishment work carried out remotely can be stressful. Trusting your project manager to deliver to prearrange milestones and not contacting them “just to make sure” will enable a more smooth running and open communication.

It is important to set out the milestones and period of time between reports before any work starts. If you then want to change the way things are communicated. You must do this with open discussion. Most project managers will be happy to oblige.

Money is always an emotive subject and the miss management of client funds can spell disaster for a project. Transparent management of payments must be a goal. The client should always pay promptly and the project manager controls the payments to the constructors.

Plan your visits so that the project manager has some notice.

Jointly prepare a list of meeting objectives and visits to get the most of your trip. If you are at the stage where you are choosing fixtures like bathroom goods or kitchens.

Do some homework before you come out.

 This will save time, help the project manager understand what you are looking for and make your trip less stressful.


Communicate, Communicate, Communicate.


Clearly by email so that you can keep a record of, prices, what was said and agreed. For experienced project management in Portugal with glowing references contact  or email