Central Portugal – Off the Tourist Trail

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Renovations are underway !

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Yesterday was the start of sorting out the upstairs of my other house, so that I can use it as a year round work shop .

It is quite exciting  planning out what I  am going to do with it. It is  a good-sized area ( 30 m2) and so I am thinking I might use half as a workshop, and make the other half into a sitting /bedroom area.

There are so many  decisions to make when starting work on a room that has nothing apart from 4 walls and  a lovely wooden ceiling.The choices I make also have to fit within my pretty meagre budget, which makes it a challenge.

The first decision I had to make was an easy one (or so I thought ). What should I do with the fireplace in the corner ? I decided it had to go.It was big, too heavy for the floor, inefficient as a fire, badly made, and ugly. Enough good reasons to destroy it with a sledgehammer!

However, my friend the builder/DIY man pointed out that above the fire, on my roof, sits a large heavy chimney supported by the internal structure ( whoops never thought about that ).The chimney  might come crashing down when I destroy the fire-place. After a bit of investigation on my friends part, it seemed that the walls of the fireplace were not holding anything, but the hood had two beams which might help to support the chimney. Dropping  the chimney and fixing the roof tiles could be quite costly (the tiles are an old design and are difficult to get hold of) and so I decided the hood stays, for now. I can plaster it, paint it and block it up  inside, to prevent the warmth escaping and the birds from coming in to nest.

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The next step is sorting out some windows and doors.  I will let you know about that next time.


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I have now been living in my little house in Portugal for one year. When I came here at the end of last August my priority was to finish the DIY jobs on my house, with the possibility of living here all year round.

Well, ( sound of trumpet fanfare) at last the house is finished. ! It took a bit longer than I thought, as enjoying life got in the way, but I can break out the champagne and celebrate tonight !  My house is  cozy, has all the essentials I need, and I love it .Ok , maybe finished is the wrong word as  there are always things to be done, but for the time being the DIY is finished .

When I first got the house, as a  holiday home, it had no water, electricity or waste pipes. It had 2 rooms down stairs and one room and a terrace upstairs .One of the rooms had a horrible marine toilet in it, and that was it as far as fixtures and fittings went! The toilet was so horrible that I couldn’t even go into the room whilst it was there, so that was the first thing to go !

Now I say downstairs, but in actual fact there were no stairs .The upstairs was accessed from an outside door and the downstairs from a separate outside door .Believe it or not though, someone had lived in it like this !

Over 2/3 years of working holidays, myself and my partner who is still a close friend, managed to make the place habitable. I would like to take this chance  to say  Thank you to him, he worked very hard, and without his help, I think I would still be struggling to get the place habitable. During these years water and electricity was connected ,waste pipes fitted in the bathroom, a boiler put in ,toilet, shower and washbasin installed, new doors and windows fitted, a small kitchen created, a set of cool looking stairs fitted, as well as lots of other jobs such as laying tiles, knocking down and building walls, painting etc…

In the last year, with the majority of the “big work” done, I have been living here  full time and getting lots of smaller jobs done, to complete the place, and make it liveable all year round. I had a big opening where a wall and doors to the bathroom and boiler room should have been . I had a sink in the kitchen with H & C water, but no waste pipe (I used to chuck bowls of water off the terrace, avoiding goats and villagers ! ) I had a dodgy chimney on my wood burner with a 90 degree bend that meant possible dangerous fumes, lots of un grouted tiles,  walls needing to be tiled or painted, and a ceiling that had iron bits poking through ! So plenty of small jobs to tackle.

I managed to find a  DIY/ maintenance bloke who helped me with the work I could not do myself. He is British, has lived here for 9 years, and speaks Portuguese, which is handy ! He works with Portuguese builders rebuilding ruins, building houses from scratch, and  general renovations. He  managed to do my little jobs when he wasn’t busy. I would recommend him to anyone thinking of doing up a house in this area, he was reliable, reasonabley priced, and had some good ideas, as well as putting up with my changing ideas !

The rest of the stuff I have been doing myself.  Sometimes when things were going badly,or my arms were aching, or the skin was coming off my fingers, It might have been nice to have had a big pot of money and got someone to have done the work for me. But now it is done, I like the fact tha twhen i look around i can see all the work I have done, or helped to do. it is a good feeling

I have took loads of photos over the years , and have put just a few together to show the changes to my house  .

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So now  my house is sorted, I can concentrate on other things. Getting a job and learning Portuguese are now my  priorities !