22 Comments
Sep 25, 2023Liked by Nancy Whiteman

Congratulations on the completion of your beautiful home. I loved all your posts and pictures showing the progress and finished product. I was thinking about you and Denise the other day and how I admire your love of adventure, challenge and change. Thank you for sharing everything in this blog.

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Sep 25, 2023Liked by Nancy Whiteman

Insightful, como sempre! After renovating our old home in Porto (high ceilings, molded plaster etc!) the one thing that stood out above all else is that "they do it their way". The sequence would (also) drive me nutty, but "it's the way it's done". I guess we're not the ones to "improve" the system, although imho the typical/oldway of wastewater plumbing is totally archaic and really needs to be updated. As to costs, I'd say you did REALLY well (without knowing your numbers) if that was the total of over-runs and changes. Our architect/builder did give us a budget (beforehand) for each change or unforeseen-problem, so we knew how deep our hole was going to be. In the end we were about 20% over budget, but to be fair the original "budget" did not spec plumbing fixures and we did go a bit overboard there... Each change/problem by itself was quite reasonable, but then there is the total! Like you, though, once the dust had/has cleared, we're quite happy with ours, and you can be proud of what you've accomplished. Parabéns!

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Sep 25, 2023Liked by Nancy Whiteman

It turned out beautifully. The construction processes probably would have driven me nuts. Especially when they don’t make sense. Enjoy!

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congrats on the success of creating a beautiful new home! i hope you enjoy many years in vrsa!

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Thank you AGAIN for warning us off of buying and renovating anything. :-) But so happy that your ending is a happy one! Congratulations! I mean Parabens!

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Sep 25, 2023Liked by Nancy Whiteman

We bought a two storey, four bedroomed house in Azeitão that was built in 1998. It is raised ( handy as the water table in Brejos is quite high), has original tiles inside - some of which we kept - and lots of marble steps. We were extremely lucky to buy it 4 years ago for just under 200. 000 euros and spent another 100.000 gradually doing it up.This includes the large garden, which took quite a lot of money!

We now have external insulation, high quality double glazed windows, new blinds, central heating fired by a pellet burner, plus another one in the living room, new kitchen and bathrooms, plus an outside kitchen, and laminate flooring over the cold tiles.

My husband did as much as he could himself.

The modern 'boxes' which are springing up everywhere here are now selling for around half a million at the cheapest. Workers with obviously very little expertise are building them. As we walk around with the dogs, our most common observation is that most things are done backwards. The paths are frequently dug up to install pipes. On bigger developments, roads have top surfaces and markings before houses are even built!

We are delighted to have a warm, solidly built house, that will last us our lifetime.

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Sep 25, 2023Liked by Nancy Whiteman

You are courageous women. Bravo for the success of the project!

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Sep 25, 2023Liked by Nancy Whiteman

Sweet read Nancy! I loved reading your journey all the way through with this major rehab. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

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Sep 25, 2023Liked by Nancy Whiteman

Glad to hear you are enjoying your home. Thank you for the heads up on some of the quirks of construction in Portugal.

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Your home looks fabulous, and I admire both the thoughtful and beautiful aspects you incorporated. I suspect some of the traditional approaches you described may give your home greater capacity to breathe in Portugal's climate than metal studs + drywall. Fine Homebuilding had an article some years back about how newer building materials lacked the ability to absorb and release humidity, leading to higher surface moisture and mold. There may be some advantages to all that concrete, brick, and plaster.

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author

Very interesting

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Where are you listing your apartments for rent?

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I absolutely love your stories. I hope one day I might come to see your place for real. You allow us to live vicariously through you and your experiences. Thank you.

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author

Love to see you again

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Another great read Nancy! The comparison of how we think things should be done versus how they actually get done here in Portugal.

Allow me to elaborate a little please; Nancy has been so kind to stop by our apartment renovation project in VRSA on a regular basis as well as some other friends (Matt and Dari). My wife (Andrea) and I are "extremely grateful" for the photos and updated progress reports as we are not retired yet and live near Portland, Oregon.

We asked some of the same questions that Nancy talks about in her post today.

1) Why don't they renovate the Pombaline ceiling and make them new again? The answer we received was, "they are beyond repair because of mostly dry rot, and termite damaged". So they treat the ceiling for termites, and build over them with insulation and drywall.

2) Why don't they refurbish the Pombaline pine floors and refinish them? In some cases they can, but in most cases they cannot for the same reasons as the ceilings. The repair process is the same as the ceilings. However, after the contractor runs electrical, and water lines along the floor (see Nancy's photo #2), they install wood slats, spray foam insulation, and then they either place plywood or a concrete sub floor on top. The final product on top of the plywood or concrete sub floor can be whatever one wants.

3) Why does the contractor install aluminum stud framing? In the case of our apartment (see Nancy's photo #2), old Portuguese buildings even with thick walls, are really cold and damp in the winter time. In some cases, the walls are not straight from one end to the other. To solve this problem, the contractor uses aluminum stud framing, insulates the walls with traditional insulation or spray foam, and finally dry walls over them to get a smooth finish. This process gives one a straight wall and increases the energy rating from perhaps a B to an A.

Finally, I suppose if one's budget didn't matter, all of the old Pombaline ceilings, walls, floors, etc. could be refurbished to their former glory, and the cost would be the cost € or $.

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author

Thanks Thomas…I think the other limiting factor in renovating is lack of skilled tradesmen. I doubt there are that many plaster cove molding refinishers around.

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Love reading your posts....and I am sure you are right about skilled tradesmen. Wouldn't it be nice though.

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Well done Nancy! How is the backyard for Onix? Were you building a pickleball court on the roof or something like that?

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author

Onix loves the backyard….she loves to sit in the sun. Re pball….when we’re required to install the fake Pombaline (tile) roof we lost 8 feet in width. So no court.

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Nancy, love your comparisons and contrast with what we know about new construction from the "old country";)

Question. Do you know (or have written) anything about the legal framework around buying a ruin and building on it? We've been told so many confusing and conflicting comments that we'd appreciate getting the straight story in regard to: 1) if you buy a property with a ruin on it, must you build on the ruin – or can you leave the ruin and build new construction without involving the ruin? 2) Is a person who builds on a ruin limited only to the square feet/m2 space of the ruin? 3) What constitutes a ruin? For example, what's the difference between a ruin and an abandoned building? 4) Is one able to alter the ruin in any way for new construction? 5) are there people/companies that specialize in new construction on ruins? 6) are there special tax considerations for building on a ruin? Stuff like that:)

Thank you always for your terrific insights drawing from your experience and research!

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I am not an expert on ruin renovation. I am sure there is a legal definition of ruin vs abandoned building...my more simplistic definition is, if it doesn't have a roof it is a ruin. I know friends who purchased a property with a habitable house and a ruin. They are renovating the habitable home and in the future hope to combine the ruin. However, we have found differences in how the local câmaras view building regs...what is approved in one may not be approved in another. So best to consult with a lawyer and the local câmara before purchasing anything.

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Thanks! I don't have any pressing desire to tackle a ruin but figured I'd bring up the questions in case you (or someone who reads you) has a burning reportorial desire to investigate, lol!

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