The drive to finish our house

Saturday, March 26, 2016, 13:28
The windows arrive outside our house

After five months with nothing happening; with our house open to the worst the winter weather could throw at it; with damp patches growing on the ceilings, at last the window frames have arrived.

To see and read more of our house, click here.
Why on earth has it taken so long for the windows to be fitted? After all, the house was ready for them in the middle of last October and we were told the spaces had been precisely measured for the frames and the glass two weeks before our visit. We were promised that they would either be fitted by the time of our next trip or at the very least be in the process of installation while we were there.

Everything had been going so well that we congratulated ourselves on having found a reliable builder and thought the house would be finished by the end of contract date. Looking ahead, we booked a ferry trip over in March to start sorting out the garden. In November, we arrived feeling excited but ... no windows; again, less excited in December.... no change. Our mid-January visit was full of trepidation. Still no windows: we were getting worried.

There were excuses. They do window frames in batches depending on the colour... but our windows were to be the standard colour. We weren't asking for them to be sky-blue pink with yellow spots on them! There had been an accident in the workshop: a collapsed wall had ruined our frames... We wondered if other local projects were more important than ours. Some people insinuated that making frames for projects in France paid better...

What were we to think? All we knew was that at a time of recession, when people are offering companies work, it is hard to see why this project wasn't finished on time. Surely the builders would want our approval and recommendation in order to get further work, wouldn't they?

When it comes to quality, we have no complaints. The work looks good and there seems to be an admirable attention to detail. We have our suspicions as to what has gone wrong but no proof, just rumour which it would be unfair to add to. Besides, it also seems that, though not a Mediterranean country, Portugal has a "tomorrow will do" attitude. This can be extremely annoying and, in our case expensive on flights, car rentals, hotels and meals out.... Then we try to tell ourselves that the laid back attitude is also part of what is so attractive about this country. That reasoning half works with us, and those who have been through this before us say we'll be thrilled eventually when it's all over and we can look back on the problems with the perspective of time and rose tinted spectacles.

The window frames being put in ready for the glass

I guess we'll never know the whole truth. And just now everything has stopped for Easter. Besides that, the wind is howling in the trees behind the house we are staying in, it's raining so hard that there's a drumming on the skylight and the cloud cover is so low that we can't even see the garden gate, never mind the wonderful view of Ponte de Lima! So nothing is happening. As they say in France, 'Plus ça change...'

Still, on the positive side, we have most of the window frames in and glassed. Just one remains to be finished. The angles in the frame were slightly out so it had to be returned to the workshop to be tweaked. The glazier, sensibly, knowing that those angles might cause a problem had not measured this window until the frame was in. So next week, all things being equal, the house should be completely sealed.

Coming to see other work such as the electrical wiring being installed, we found an unwelcome visitor on the steps. One of the builders had clearly dealt with it before our arrival but, even though we had had such visitors overseas in Sri Lanka and Africa, I still found it disconcerting.

A snake in the steps

I don't know one snake from another so have no idea if this one is dangerous. I just hope that, if it is, it doesn't have any mates around to go looking for it.

And finally in this report, did you think think the the 'drive' I mention in the heading meant the 'urge' or the 'effort' to finish the house? Well it did but it also meant, in fact the drive itself. As you can see, we now have a garage door and, if we had a James Bond car we could use it. Unfortunately, we can't find 'Q' to supply us with one and we can't afford to buy one so as well as the rest of the house, there is also a drive to finish the drive.

The gap in front of the garage door

Do you have any house building or renovation stories? If you do, please write in and tell us.  If you are Portuguese, please feel free to write in your own language. You don't have to write in English. (O que é importante não é a língua mas a contribuição.)

Zé Reis Santos wrote:
Saturday, April 23, 2016, 19:35
Margaret se me tivesses dito, antes da tua aventura de construir uma casa em Portuga.l ter te ia dado um curso acelerado de como evitar as "ratoeiras ".
Construí duas e fiz obras noutra. Equivale a um PHD.
Como tu dizes acaba por se esquecer quando tudo acaba bem.
Mas do que vi parece muito bonita e deve ter uma vista ampla e acredito bonita.
Margaret wrote:
Saturday, April 23, 2016, 21:42
A retrospectiva e uma coisa maravilhosa! Estava a pensar em dizer a 'a próxima vez' mais com todos os anos que ja tenho....
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