Portuguese property, an engineering challenge

We all know why we love Portugal, whether it’s because of the beautiful golden sandy beaches, the attractive architecture, or the fact that there’s always something to do – from golf to tennis, dolphin watching to exploring Portugal’s history. But we all love the temperate climate. Your preference might be the searing hot summers or the mild winters … or both!
Whilst this is great for the discerning visitor or expatriate, it presents a massive challenge for the engineers and architects of Portugal. Buildings must be designed in structure and materials that can cope with a wide range of temperatures, typically ranging from winter evenings as low as 2ºC to summer afternoons often in the 40s!
The climate in Portugal owes much of its good fortune to its relative proximity to the Earth’s equator, however this has its disadvantages in the fact that there is a minor earth tremor almost daily; though not that you’d notice, so don’t panic – it’s not even enough to make your golf ball oscillate on the greens or spill the late afternoon gin ‘n’ tonic!
These climate conditions mean that properties in Portugal must be built to a very high engineering specification in order to deal with the compounded effect of minor earth tremors and temperatures that will give you a great tan in the summer but won’t aggravate the arthritis too much in winter.
Consequently, properties in Portugal are typically much stronger than properties in the UK and Ireland. Built around a framework structure of reinforced concrete and steel, there really is no comparison to the traditional brickwork and timber used in the UK.
Notably, this results in a much longer build programme for an equivalent sized property in Portugal versus the UK & Ireland, in some instances up to twice the length of time.
This stark contrast runs throughout the majority of building works in Portugal, whether it’s a new house, an extension or some home improvement works. Often things take longer because there is a higher engineering specification; it’s not simply down to the ‘amanhã’ (tomorrow) culture!
By Brett Hawkins
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Brett Hawkins is the managing director of GMT 24:7, a local expert in all areas of general building and property maintenance, with offices in Lagos and Almancil. | www.gmt247.eu