Building in the Algarve
The Algarve construction market is not immune from the recent problems affecting Southern Europe. Just as horsemeat has been substituted for beef, some building companies are desperate and will say anything to get the job. So make sure you are dealing with bona fide companies and make sure your contract documentation is specific.
The positive side of the recession is that companies generally have to be more competitive and more in tune with the clients needs. This has caused designers and contractors to look at latest trends, levels of service and general delivering of customer satisfaction.
There has been a trend in recent years towards more modern designs reflecting lifestyle influences of open-plan designs, glass and light, large kitchen living areas, home cinemas and gymnasiums. Some still prefer the traditional shell but with a more contemporary interior. The expertise exists within the Algarve to make any of these combinations possible.
Behind any layout though needs to be a structure that is fit for purpose and can deal with the Algarve's climate i.e. very hot in summer, can be wet in winter, in spring there can be large temperature variations between night and day of over 20°C, and of course be designed according to the law for the odd earthquake tremor. This means ensuring structural designs are adhered to with the correct materials, plenty of insulation and waterproofing systems that are capable of dealing with movement and temperature changes and using materials that can weather the Algarve climate, not just looking good for six months.
Light is good for the soul, and to enable more natural light, glass has been developed with not only security features but heating and solar reflective properties Aluminium with thermal insulating properties should now be used as standard, enabling windows and doors to be made bigger without the fear of overheating or conversely freezing!
Kitchen and bathroom designs are probably the two key areas that a client looks for. All trends are catered for and if you see something in a magazine that you like, show it to your builder. There are very few things in the Algarve that are not available or techniques that can't be done. One practical warning though; the water here is hard so insist on a water softener and a good quality tap.
Energy prices are going up year on year, so it is also important that clients select energy-efficient cooling, heating and lighting systems. LED lights for instance consume approx 10% of the power for traditional lighting and is the light of the future. Heat pumps work on the principle of extracting heat from the air or the ground and can also lower your fuel bills as well as being better for the environment.
Home entertainment systems are now standard with the rapidly changing audio visual market; specialist equipment prices are becoming more affordable. High Definition pictures whether through a satellite dish, cable TV or through the telephone/Internet system make just about every programme and film in the world available. Rooms are designed around this facility and in a lot of client wish lists, the Home Cinema room is a must. Even if it is not make sure adequate conduits are installed for future technology developments. Other intelligent systems that can control heating, lighting, audio visual, security via your iPad and/or from a remote location are now common practice. Security products have also advanced with the rapidly changing communications industry and there are many applications using wireless beam technology that can add early warning protection to our homes.
Now is the time to build as you can find good competitive prices from professionals that want the work.
There are three forces in the outcome of any project and they are dependent upon one another.
Those forces are quality, cost and time. The theory states that you can have any combination of two of the forces in your favour, but the third will suffer. For example, you can have a project that is high quality with fast delivery, but you will pay higher costs for it. Similarly, you can have a project that delivers quickly at a low cost, but the quality will suffer.
Bear these criteria in mind when selecting your builder.