Posts Tagged ‘schist buildings’

A step in the right direction

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Serendipity continues to play its delightful and ever-surprising part in the building works here. While we were working on the renovations of the smaller of the two buildings, I was contacted by an American stoneworker travelling in Morocco who was looking for a project to get involved in before heading back to California. (Facebook has its uses. I’m a member of a stoneworkers group and this is how the contact came about.) So I found myself at 04:30am one mid-April Wednesday morning waiting at the deserted train station in Santa Comba Dão to collect Michael Eckerman off the night train from Madrid.

Michael Eckerman


Another roof

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

I’ve been keeping deliberately quiet about the work we’ve been doing over the last month or so as it was a surprise for daughter number 2 who’s been in the UK for college interviews (and yes, she was accepted). Now she’s back in Portugal and has been duly surprised, I can at last post about our progress.

This time last year, we built a roof on the back of the main building as part of a strategy to keep the building dry. The dry-stone schist buildings on the quinta, as with most buildings of this kind in this area, are built straight onto bedrock with the ground-floor rooms cut out of the rock itself. As a result, preventing or otherwise dealing with rainwater runoff following the bedrock into the buildings is necessary before these buildings can become habitable.

This year, it was time to give the second building on the quinta a similar treatment.

The smallest building before work started



Saturday, December 31st, 2011

In a coincidental but fitting end to 2011, we’ve been finishing up several jobs that were almost but not quite complete. Both upper rooms in the larger building now have new floors and finally we have finished the roof!

Finished schist roof


Stairs finished

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

Following on from the last post on the subject – and a bit overdue since they’ve been completed at least a couple of weeks now – we have finished the stairs on both sides of the building. This makes 3 sides of the building now protected from the weather by an extra overhang. All that remains now is to complete a lean-to roof along the back wall, dig a large drain into the bedrock behind it, and we should have a substantially watertight building … even without all the windows and doors.

Outside stairwell on schist dry stone building


Floorless 2

Sunday, August 14th, 2011

As well as work on the outside of the larger building, we’ve also stripped out the floor in the left half of the building in preparation for reflooring and started cleaning and preserving the chestnut timbers. We stripped the right side of the building last November and it still hasn’t got its new floor yet … ah well … the best laid plans of mice and (wo)men …

In doing so the building revealed more of its life story: something we hadn’t been aware of until letting all this extra light in.

Back wall of larger building



Saturday, August 13th, 2011

After a break of the best part of 3 months, we’ve been able to start work on building renovations again. The first priority is to complete the roof of the larger building. The roof over the main body of the building itself is done, but we need to extend it either end of the building to cover the external staircases, and to butt a lean-to roof up to it along the back of the building before it’s finally finished.

Extending the roof area right round the house in this way will, aside from providing covered walkways, give all round protection to the walls from most direct weather action: a major consideration with dry-stone walls, especially ones that are going to be clay-pointed.

The larger building


More on renovations

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

Progress. The balcony, patio area and log store outside the main building are now substantially finished.

It has been quite a transformation.



Monday, April 18th, 2011

Both buildings on the quinta are being worked on at the moment. A while ago we fitted locally-made chestnut doors and windows to the smaller building, and today it got a new roof.

Smaller building on the quinta


Balcony and trellis

Monday, April 11th, 2011

We’ve started work on the larger building again. Or, to be more precise, a local team of joiners has started work. We’d planned on doing this with help from local friends, but reassessed when their own building project took off and we got to scratching our heads over where we were going to source sufficient sweet chestnut poles for the job. I’ve been buying some from the Presidente of the local junta (and the previous owner of this quinta) who has a pile of old, well-seasoned chestnut vigas that have been lying about for the best part of the last decade, but he doesn’t have enough, or enough of the right size, for what I had in mind. In the end, it was going to be quicker and far more economical to call in the team, since the team come complete with the wood.

Beginnings of a balcony or alpendre



Friday, November 5th, 2010

Building work on the quinta has been progressing really well lately, despite us beginning to have to watch the weather forecast to plan what we do from day to day. Rain is forecast for next week, so today we removed one of the floors to clean and preserve the chestnut beams so we’ll have something we can get on with under cover next week.

Floor removed from first floor of building

No floor!