Choosing the right place

Choosing the location was a little easier than choosing the right right property. Carla’s dad has a little place in Portugal in the Castelo Branco region so we knew we wanted to be within an hours drive of his village. We were particually looking for places that were less built up and less commercial but also wanted to make sure our son Elvis could attend a good school that had other English children in. Et voila, we found Penamacor.


For the property we knew we wanted a place that was big enough to build accommodation on but without taking up the scenic views and ending up with what just looks like a campsite. Our vision was to create something cosy, homely, luxury and individual and we wanted our guests to feel at ease and be able to chill out on the grounds without feeling crowded.

As we weren’t in Portugal ourselves we had to do this blind… luckily Carla’s dad was on hand to do some viewings for us. We found a couple of places online with some Portugese agents and made the appointments.

We specifically wanted somewhere that had a ruin on the land for us to renovate so we could have a solid building. With the laws in Portugal it’s very difficult to find land that you are allowed to build on. Other considerations were things like electricity and water connections, most places didn’t have utility connections so this is something you have to take into account and be prepared to have installed once you’ve purchased the property.

The first place was in little village called Aguas, it was a quinta with a small stone house ruin. We sent dad to go and have a look and find out about water and electricity and also about habitation rights… even if there’s a ruin building on the land it doesn’t mean it automatically has habitation right. So that’s something else to consider.

This quinta had a total area of 10,000m2 which was a little bit smaller than we wanted. Ideally we would have liked somewhere big enough to grow fruit trees as well without compromising our guest accommodation plans. It was a good contender though and was definitely one to put on the list with electricity and water close by which makes it a viable option to have connected.

We found another property online and sent dad to go and have a look. This property had a few stone outbuildings which were animals pens and the house itself was occupied. Although it looked like a good contender, unfortunately we found out that electricity and water connections were not an option here, the land was also situated between two other properties and there was no vehicle access to the gate so that took this off the cards straight away.

There were a couple of other properties we could have gone to look at but to be honest they just didn’t tick all the boxes. If we were going to do this this it had to be right. We didn’t want somewhere we would out grow in a few years and have to relocate.

There was a lot of info to find out about, such as sewage, there was no sewage nearby so we would have to install a septic tank and the tank couldn’t be within 50 meters of the well, we had to make sure we could get permission to renovate the house and also have other accommodation available for guests.

One day dad called us and said he’s found a potential property, around 4.5 acres, a well, which we were hoping to have for irrigation purposes for the trees and greenery, a small forest area, a building that wasn’t a complete ruin, the electricity and water connection was doable and it also had a lake!

We spent some time coming up with questions for the local camera (council) architect who helped us out immensely with everything we needed to know. He also said that the land would get planning permission for a 2 story 400m2 house which we could do in the future if we wanted to.

We had a lot of calls, a lot of photos and a lot of videos of the land, the house, the high fire risk forest areas and water lines.

The building itself was a much easier task to renovate than a lot of the others we had seen with solid walls and proper rooms. The previous occupant used a pump from the well for water so there was some pipe work left in the walls and a small tank for water storage on the roof. The wooden shutters on the windows are beautiful but old and only one of the wooden doors is attached, there’s also a stone fireplace in the main room.

We will need to replace the roof, put in proper lintels above the doors and we have a lot of ground to clear around the house where it has just been left but as you can see from the pictures we already have a cooker, a kitchen unit, a bath a table and a toilet cistern so I guess you can say we’re pretty much sorted. Ha!

So this is the property we have decided to go for. A couple of weeks went by and we got everything organised, we sent all the paperwork via email to the solicitor, got our NIF number and made the purchase… so now the fun begins as we start to make plans on the house renovations and also the rest of the quinta!

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