welcome to emmas housethought

building update by golly

Houses Built: .05
Injuries: 11 bruises, one smashed husband thumb.
Bottles of scotch consumed: 2

When it was first suggested that I start a blog about building the house, I surfed the net for other blogs on the same subject to see what it was all about. It was a quagmire of tediousness. People blogging in excruciatingly boring detail about every last brick they have moved. ACTUALLY I COULDN’T GIVE A RAT’S ARSE WHICH TILES YOU ARE USING FOR THE BATHROOM MIRROR SURROUNDS, I told them.

And look, I’m about to do the same thing. Just a warning.

At least I have some building works to report which makes a change. If you remember from the last episode, the project plans had been thrown out the window and all has been simplified and the lord’s inspirational light is shining upon us once again.
There was a question about what the original kitchen and the loja downstairs would become, and they have sorted themselves out into Bathroom and Loja Downstairs respectively. There was a question about where to put the stairs: we’ve decided to have no stairs – it sounds boring but not when you remember this place has an upstairs and a downstairs 😉

To use a standard renovator-blogger’s phrase, I can’t believe it’s been six months. The first couple of months we sat on our arses. The next couple of months I emptied out the house and built a temporary roof over the first floor of the ruin to put everything into.

And then the boys got stuck in. Mate I swear it’s great having a husband. He’s as keen as mustard to get himself dirty and hit things with hammers. Even more grateful am I to have friends like Derik and Ines (see houseminding) who are willing to help. These people are basically saints in the waiting line. Must have a word with the pope. Must also enquire what kind of medal Derik gets for this kind of work. Legion d’honneur? I’m just hoping one day he’ll be calling to get us to help him with his place.
So the great chimney has gone, the interior walls have gone, the ceiling has gone, the water barrier is going up, insulation going in, new ceiling going in, The plumber/electrician has been sacked, my local supplier is back in business and a massive spreadsheet of a schedule has been printed. Onwards and upwards.

And with much relief this pokey little house does make one pretty nice lounge room/kitchen. I had been mourning the loss of a luxurious 50m2 lounge from the project plans, but actually 24m2 does just fine. Believe you me, lifting a ceiling by a metre-plus adds up to way more than 1500mm.
Meanwhile on the exterior, it’s getting hotter and that time of year when I obsess about bushfires has arrived. As with every year, I try to discuss it in a civilised manner with the neighbours and every year the ignore me. I am from the city, they are generations of forestry people. I bet my right foot they don’t have home insurance and nor have I because Portuguese insurers don’t like houses with building works. Most expats, more diligent than I, insure with a British company. And so it goes on the to-do list – the thought now of being wiped out (again) keeps me awake at night. Along with the choice of bathroom tiles, naturally.

Actually my darling horrifically expensive hand painted blue and white 19th century tiles have been sold to someone else and I’ve just located several boxes of dusty boring standard whities of indeterminate provenance in the building yard… so sorry, I know you were all dying to have your vote, but tough titties. Maybe I’ll leave the kitchen curtain print for the public to decide.


  1. Hudson June 12, 2011 5:20 pm Reply

    You. Are. Badass.

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  2. Modul Holzhaeuser June 12, 2011 6:06 pm Reply

    Hi, nice blog an nice house, you have much to do there. We have a nice blog about cheap modular timber house. Cuuuu Rudolv

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  3. cristina June 13, 2011 7:02 am Reply

    wow exciting! is there anything you can do to help prevent fires getting to the house if they do start up again? (touch wood) can you build some kind of ‘water wall’ or something? have you thought about painting the tiles yourself? you can buy tile/glass pens & paints from craft shops.

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    Emma   Reply: June 18th, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    I’m planning to set up a roof top water sprinkler system that would keep the roof wet and the water would recycle via the gutters and a tank – so the house water supply, if still connected during a fire could still be used to keep the fire at a distance. Every year I pounce on the neighbours to keep their land cleared – but now I’ve bought a machine I’ll cut it myself if they wont. Then I’ll have about 50m clear on the forest side of the house (except for oliveiras which are hard pruned every year). My house might stop the whole village burning down…

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  4. Junita MOLLER-NIELSEN June 13, 2011 7:07 am Reply

    Ola, Bom Dia Emma,

    Comos estas? Have just found your blog, I myself am looking at buying a property in Portugal as soon as I can and as easily as I can ;p. Hopefully in September 2011.

    I didn’t think it would be so complicated to purchase a property there. Thankyou for all the advise you have put on your blog.

    I have lived in Portugal for 3 months (Anjos, Lisboa) and have also visited there as well. I fell in love with Fig da Foz and Coimbra is so bonita as well, Oporto is gorgeous too. I fell in love with the Portuguese lifestyle and the people.

    Have you met many other Australians living in Portugal doing the same as you? I’m hoping to obtain dual citizenship there in the future as I plan to retire in Portugal.

    Do you have citizenship there or only the residency?

    I do hope you can email me as I would truly like to ask you more questions if you don’t mind.



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  5. Dee Hawa June 17, 2011 12:44 am Reply

    coo! looks like you really movin some!
    glad your back with the dust, builders rubble etc. etc.
    but then again, you can’t make an omlette without
    breaking eggs..

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    Emma   Reply: June 18th, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Hi Dee – these are the days of black snot and long showers 😉

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  6. john June 18, 2011 6:29 am Reply

    Oh my God Emma
    You are well underway and looks like the race is still on. Well done and how satisfying to hear that you sound totally excited by “building work”. Hope it continues and I will make no comments whatsoever on the possible future pitfalls (sorry forget that I mentioned that). Keep us informed please on the progress – its fun.
    John with some structure on the Algarve but no electricity yet.

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    Emma   Reply: June 18th, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Yes indeed let’s not consider any hiccups – we have to move in in september or else sleep in a tent or under a bridge somewhere…

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  7. john June 19, 2011 7:42 pm Reply

    If you have problems with a roof over your heads we will hopefully have our little casa available on the Algarve from 19th September. Might have some lecky by then.

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  8. john November 29, 2011 8:30 pm Reply

    Hi Emma
    In 2005 i bought a property in Portugal in Pedrograo Grande.
    I now want to start building it. It is an old ruin which needs modernization. I have got all the planing done allready by my architect.
    Can you recomend a good reliable builder in the area.
    Many thanks
    John (joao)

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    Emma   Reply: December 6th, 2011 at 7:17 am

    João, in a word, no.

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    john   Reply: December 15th, 2011 at 8:15 am

    Hi Emma, long time no hear. How is your building work progressing? Are you finished? Havent seen any updates for a while so hope no major hiccups your end.
    We just got a new electric meter yesterday in our Algarve casa. What speed they operate in Portugal!

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    Emma   Reply: December 27th, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    well john it’s been a hard slog, but, at last we are finally in. It will never be finished, of course… these old houses are a limetime’s project methinks…

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    john   Reply: January 4th, 2012 at 9:38 am

    @Emma, hang on in there. Portugal is a lifetime commitment methinks. Great news you are actually “in”. Does this mean you have water and lecky, a door, a roof and a few windows? Are you sitting luxuriously in front of a roaring wood burning stove with little else to care about other than where your next lemon is coming from? Let me send you one from the Algarve – is there a jiffy bag big enough? Have you started that book about the process yet?
    Might need some income to cover the possible doubling of council tax that we have just heard about. Well done on your venture.

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