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A warm house in Portugal?

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Posts: 103
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(@portofakiwi)
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Joined: 4 years ago

Another damp cold winter almost over, and no more for me in my current house. It's just too cold and damp, bad heating in only two rooms and damp and unpleasant.

However I can't find a house to buy after a few years of looking as it doesn't seem to be possible to buy a house with good insulation, and all room heating that actually works where you can get 23 degrees inside on a winter night. (For a reasonable price - and semi rural, no close neighbours etc)

If you have a warm toasty house can you please let me know as I'm losing hope!

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Posts: 499
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(@gerry)
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Joined: 1 year ago

Good suggestion @terrell. We will see if we can find an appropriate expert and arrange this as a webinar. Will keep you posted.

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(@terrell)
Joined: 4 months ago

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Posts: 27

@gerry, terrific, thank you for checking on this!

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(@pipfinder)
Joined: 3 months ago

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Posts: 14

@gerry Hi Gerry I have just the person to do a webinar on this subject he is the boss of Fassa (italian building supplies) and lives in our village.

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Admin
(@gerry)
Joined: 1 year ago

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Posts: 499

Hi @pipfinder. Thank you. Very interested to follow up but think you have missed off the contact details. Please send me a PM if preferred.

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Community Member
(@jeanne)
Joined: 7 months ago

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Posts: 110

@gerry  Or ThomasRibatejo, who has posted some useful construction-related info on the Forum

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Posts: 3
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(@daniyal)
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Joined: 2 months ago

Hey Kiwi,

I'm also from NZ (Auckland)

As many have mentioned, the construction quality is not amazing here in PT. Even new builds can be cold and damp, and again as many have mentioned, a lot of the problem is due to no dampproofing and non ventilated facades/ walls. 

I also love a simple timber structure off the ground and with insulation, so I'm building my own house in Torres Vedras, 20 min north of Lisbon. We recently moved here from London and set up our own architectural company. 

There are a few expansive ways to solve your problem, but I would also say it's just better to build something simple. The cost of fixing the floorings and walls will be around 40 thousand.

Let me know if you need more detailed help 😉 

I'll always be up for helping out a fellow Kiwi. Big Hugs

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(@pipfinder)
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Joined: 3 months ago

I have spent alot of time getting our large 1986 Villa insulated to a northern European standard and it is now B- rated we use pellet heaters to keep us warm in the winter evenings and it runs on minimum settings

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Posts: 288
 bife
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(@bife)
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I really know what you mean, coldest dampest in your bones winter is usually the first one spent in PT, I had so many damp and cold flats in central Lisbon over the years. All of them in fact. Even developed a bit of Asthma due to spores (and pollution)

Our house now is the classic reinforced concrete frame structure with hollow red bricks filling in the gaps. It used to be really cold and damp in winter

It was the family holiday place, built in '72 behind Fonte da Telha, in an area known for humidity and cold in winter.

We bought it and completely renovated everything 3 years ago

Best thing we ever did was putting on 'Capoto' insulation. 6 cm of polystyrene type stuff covered with a structural plastic mesh / special render 'composite' skin.

The house is so warm and dry and comfortable in winter, by far best house I have ever had in PT.

Also in summer its nice and cool

Downstairs we have pellet burners which keeps things dry since they are closed loop heat exchangers (the air inlet and exhaust gasses are in a loop that does not come into contact with the inside air, so no combustion H2O)

Upstairs we have air con heat pumps, but these are only ever on for half hour or so before we go to bed in the depths of winter or the height of summer.

For the capoto this is a good UK guide that you should read first to make sure your PT workmen do it right. Main thing is that they use good materials, use a row of higher density foam around floor level to stop insects, tie the foam panels to wall with plastic 'Top Hat' fasteners as well as gluing,

Pros and cons for all insulations, but we are very happy with ours, so far at least 😀 

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(@terrell)
Joined: 4 months ago

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@bife, thank you so much for sharing these helpful details!

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(@jeanne)
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@bife  I've just had a chance to read through the UK guide that you linked to. Do 'capoto' walls perform well over the long term? The system appears to assume faultless installation and no possibility of future leaks or failures. 

I have always understood that a drainage plane/cavity needed to be incorporated into that type of exterior wall insulation, such as shown in Figs 20 or 21 found here. 

https://www.buildingscience.com/documents/building-science-insights/bsi-120-understanding-walls

Or is that mentioned in the UK specs and I'm just not seeing it?

thanks,

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 bife
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(@bife)
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@jeanne

I am by no means an expert!!! I was just sharing the info I learned/understood during the process

But there is no stone or brick veneer on Capoto as we have it, so no cavity perhaps? Also, this is €PT not $USA 🤣 

Yes, I had thought about long term performance, but on balance went for it. 

I know from work (uni researcher marine composites) that sandwich structures are really light and stiff, and more importantly as a 1980's sandwich construction boat owner I know that they also keep the boat warm in winter (and no condensation) and cool in summer, but also that eventually water will get in, somewhere (and then it can be a right b@gger trying to find out where!).

I also know that long term durability is really, really hard to evaluate, especially for newer materials.

Most of all, I know that research isnt hands-on experience 😀 

But the fact that the foam is not only glued but also physically screwed to the wall and that the outer skin is a thermoplastic / special render composite should mean some form of durability and robustness to water damage, I guess / hope 😀 .

Also, importantly, the foam is not structurally loaded so hopefully shouldn't degrade (maybe some thermal fatigue, but its not desert here with hot days and cold nights)

But, yes I think it is very 'installation operator sensitive' so it need to be done right. I saw a house round the corner having it put on and they omitted the 'top hat' plastic fittings used to screw the foam to the wall, relying on the glue, and I shuddered.

A lot of my info came from my builder mates at home

The dry interior must stop a lot of other problems occurring too

Its a good old Engineering Compromise

And, the thing is, nothing is for ever.

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(@jeanne)
Joined: 7 months ago

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Posts: 110

@bife. Hi. I'm no expert either, but just enjoy reading about things like this and trying to understand the reasoning behind why something is done the way it's done. Retrofitting anything onto an old structure is rarely easy or straightforward.  I've never come across the Capoto system here in the US, but it may well be a good solution for conditions in PT. 

 

 

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Ask Our Expats Consultant
(@thomasandmatthew)
Joined: 4 years ago

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Posts: 110

@jeanne you may come across more information under the international term, ETICS (External Thermal Insulation Composite System).  There's quite a lot online in English when you search ETICS insulation, for instance.

It is generally considered to be the best external insulation solution - naturally, it changes the external appearance, primarily due to its thickness and the materials - and will not make a difference in older buildings (pre-mid-C20th in a Portuguese context) with thick walls (for example, 50cm thick earth walls, which are not uncommon here).  It would logically be ideal for exactly what @bife was doing!

It is not great for fragile walls, and in any event needs to be properly applied, to avoid fragmentation/detachment.  If the property adjoins another (terraced house, apartment), this could compromise it at the joins, or look odd.  It should also not be painted a dark colour, for fairly obvious reasons!  But none of this is to detract from it - for bogstandard late C20th-to-new properties, it can make a huge difference.

If you feel like a Portuguese language challenge, or using a translation tool, this is not a bad, straightforward page about it:
https://civilpinta.pt/vantagens-e-desvantagens-do-sistema-capoto/

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 bife
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(@bife)
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@thomasandmatthew

That's very interesting Thomas, are you Civlpinta &/or working with this stuff?

The photo on the link of the layers is exactly what we have (not sure of exact brand of materials, but the guy who applied it assured us it was all the 'certified' stuff.

w.r.t. the 'Argamassa/FB/Fibrada/100', this is the 'Argamassa – Mapegrout Tissotropico'?

Presumably Tissotropico is spanish or italian or something for tixotròpica / thixotropic which means it wont fall off as its curing?

Also, what does FB mean?

and fibrada presumably means short fibre reinforced?

If so, do you know with which fibres? polymer or glass or other fibres?

So not only is the outside layer reinforced with the plastic net (like the glass fibres in GRP) which since it is plastic would be good to absorb small knocks, but the matrix / massa / 'cement' is short fibre reinforced too -

I am even happier now 🙂

 

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Ask Our Expats Consultant
(@thomasandmatthew)
Joined: 4 years ago

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Posts: 110

@bife No connection with Civilpinta, I just liked their simple page about it, as a ready reference illustration.

Our business, Reabilitejo (reabilitejo.pt or facebook.com/reabilitejo - we're quite new, so these need more content and work), doesn't do the construction/contractor work (we remain strictly impartial, to avoid the trick of recommending what the contractor finds easiest or most lucrative...), but does advise on the right solutions for restoring and improving properties, particularly older properties. This runs from surveys/inspections, through planning support (and we have architect associates, too), to detail advice, critical friend support for existing works, supervision of works, etc.

Matthew (our Technical Director) has studied the theoretical and practical aspects of all manner of relevant solutions, including ETICS (even though that's not typically what is relevant to the older building stock), most recently at the University of Coimbra on the theory, and ISEL (Lisbon) for the practical.

On the technical stuff, Civilpinta is going down the CIN brand route, hence the specific product they mention.   In this context, FB is fibrada branca, and the technical document won't download to tell me specifically which fibres!  This is that product:
https://cin.com/deco/pt/pt/29572-princol-argamassa-fb

The product you mention is a Mapei one, they're a "reference" in European terms when it comes to quality for restoration, so if that's what your people used, they weren't cutting corners/costs, I'd suggest.  Their site mentions synthetic fibres.

(Traditionally, sisal, horsehair, etc would have been used - and in authentic restorations, would still be preferred - though again, this wouldn't be an ETICS solution).

Yes, sounds like you've invested in a good solution, which should serve you well for a good length of time!

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Community Member
(@jeanne)
Joined: 7 months ago

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Posts: 110

@thomasandmatthew. Interesting. Does the FB / fibrous mortar function as a drainage plane due to the fibers it contains? Perhaps the fibers enable moisture to be wicked away?   I'm wondering why a d.plane would not be necessary, but once I have read up on ETICS maybe I will find that answer.

Are any government grants or tax benefits available to owners of old properties for this type of improvement? 

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(@jeanne)
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@thomasandmatthew It appears that ‘ETICS’ is what’s referred to in the US as ‘EIFS’ (Exterior Insulation and Finish System).  Most building codes here definitely require use of a drainage plane with EIFS, and many home-owners insurance won’t pay out on water damage or mold claims when EIFS has been installed without one. 

A few years ago, some very expensive townhouses near me that were clad in EIFS discovered significant water and mold damage – the underlying sheathing, walls + insulation, the ends of most of the floor joists, and all the wooden windows needed to be replaced.  The houses were about 15 years old while - unfortunately - the builder’s guarantee was only for 10 years. After all the structural damage was repaired, the homeowners brought in craftsmen who applied traditional, hand-trawled stucco over asphalt-paper-backed metal mesh.

I think EIFS failure could be more of an issue here because of the methods and substrates typically used, i.e. wood products – failure over sheathing and wood construction can result in a disaster, while a masonry substrate should be able to more easily absorb and redistribute small amounts of water.

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