Over 20 years of Experience in Portugal
The First Project – the Renovation and Enlargement of a ruined Farmhouse – Serra do Bouro - Ourselves
Our first project, sixteen years ago, was the renovation of a virtually ruined farmhouse and its transformation into a home we are proud of to this day. We were blessed with the ignorance of amateurs and looked upon the project as a fun way to spend the first year in our new home country. We had bought the house more for its position than for the accommodation it offered and it was in a very poor condition. Much of the roof was missing and the earth floors inside were frequently reduced to mud when the rain fell. There was only one water tap – outside in the courtyard, and there was no electricity or sewage.
Blissfully unaware of the size of the challenge which faced us we asked a local builder, who had been recommended to us, to tackle the renovation.
An early setback came with the arrival of a team of inspectors from the local planning department who informed us that no plans for the renovation had been submitted and insisted on an immediate cessation of work. It turned out that the builder had pocketed the money which we had paid for the submission of the plans in the hope that the relatively remote location of the property would mean that no such inspection would take place. We suffered a two month hold up whilst the plans were duly submitted and approved. As we had an agreement with the builders that they would not leave the site once they had started work we put them to good effect on converting the potato field into a garden!
With work underway once more we faced an uphill struggle getting the building team to approach the renovation sympathetically. On numerous occasions the boss told us that it would be cheaper to knock the original down and to build something ‘nice’. It was an almost daily battle to keep them on the right lines.
Halfway through the process the two partners of the building company had a major falling-out over financial issues and the one who had been undertaking our renovation disappeared from the scene and took ‘our’ foreman with him. The remaining partner became involved with our project and a new team of workers set to.
After six months we could see that our unremitting supervision of the renovation process was bearing fruit and that we were going to have the home we wanted. However, in spite of a verbal agreement with the first builder that any increases in costs must be approved during the process we were presented by his ex-partner with a bill for extras of more than 40,000 pounds. Naturally we refused to pay and eventually compromised by paying over an additional 10,000 pounds for those extras which we accepted had been requested by ourselves.
Finally the project was completed and paid for. It had been a gruelling process. We had been effectively on site during working hours every day to ensure that work had continued in the way we required. We felt that we had won a prolonged battle when the builders’ truck went off up the lane for the final time. Thankfully we had had the time to spare and we asked ourselves how on earth we would have coped had we not been permanently there to oversee matters.
We had cut our teeth on our own project and learned some valuable lessons which have stood us in good stead ever since and which we use today to the benefit of our clients.
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ENNIS PROJECT MANAGEMENT