We get lot of questions about what we’re doing and how we’re doing what we’re doing as we share our journey of reviving our home and land on YouTube. In this post we answer more than 100 frequently asked questions from our followers.
If you’re interested in moving to Portugal, buying and renovating in Portugal, gardening in Portugal, living off grid in a tent in Portugal or anything else relating to our life or the kinds of things we get up to here in Portugal, have a read to see if your questions are answered.
Moving to Portugal
Alexander: Why Portugal? What are the pros and cons compared to moving Spain/Italy for you?
We had been looking for several years, and not just Europe – we also considered South-East Asia, Australia and other parts of the UK.
Our primary considerations were: cost of property, great weather, relaxed pace of life and access to international travel. We wanted a better quality of life than what we had in London.
It was the friendliness and relaxed attitudes that helped us choose Portugal.
Pros: affordable property in Central Portugal, great weather, and very relaxed and friendly people.
Cons: access to an international airport isn’t as convenient as some places, but both Lisbon and Porto are only 2 hours drive away.
Steve: what do you miss (if anything) about living in the UK
Most of what me miss can be summed up by two words: convenience and choice.
Coming from London where pretty much everything is available, and could be found or delivered quickly, adjusting to fewer options has been a challenge.
It takes us longer to find the things we need (hindered also by our inability to communicate effectively in Portuguese), and often have less options available to choose from.
Nat: for someone who’d like to do the same – what’s your advice on how to start?
I believe the key to any big change/move is to make a really good plan, and then execute it. It’s how we’ve achieved a lot of what we’ve done – whether that’s moving to Portugal, or renovating a house.
It took us about 10 years to execute our ‘simple living’ plan, and a lot of hard work, compromises and sacrifices.
These general steps might help you achieve the same:
- Get really clear on what you want – set a specific goal and timeframe
- Work out how you will fund yourself – savings, employment, passive income streams etc
- Research like a mad person – almost everything that you don’t know can be learned: books, blogs, courses, Facebook groups, YouTube … there’s lots of info out there
- Create a plan that has everything you need to do/learn, then slowly work towards doing/learning everything on the plan
- Update, adjust and be agile …. nothing is set in stone and things will change as new information comes to light
cappark: What is the best way to visit central Portugal to view the area for possible move to Portugal?
Central Portugal is vast, from the outskirts of Porto all the way to the north of Lisbon. A car is therefore essential, especially since there’s not a lot of public transport – especially if you want to venture inland.
On our first property hunting visit we flew into Lisbon, picked up a hire car and based ourselves in Ansião. I would recommend Tomar, Coimbra or Leiria however – they are larger cities with more facilities and are better located in terms of motorways.
Jackie: what has the weather been like inland – foggy, damp etc (for someone wanting to move from the UK, and wants to be sure the weather is better).
The interior of Portugal has lots of different microclimates due to the hills and valleys in the area. We are significantly inland and so really aren’t affected by the coastal weather – though it can be quite windy.
The weather is predominantly sunny with a small number of overcast or ‘grey’ days. It is nothing like UK weather.
It does however get cold, especially overnight, and Portuguese houses can be very cold and damp. Houses here have historically been built to keep the heat out in summer time with little consideration for the cold in the winters (which based on historical records are getting colder).
Top tip: visit in December/January and stay in an older Portuguese property. This will give you an idea of the worst that it can be. The days can be lovely and sunny (typically in the range 8-13 °C) but the evenings are cold, down to just a couple of degrees above freezing. December is also usually the wettest month of the year.
The cold properties can be improved by installing a good central heating system and more importantly good insulation and ventilation.
Residency and Visas
Sara & Darin: How easy was it to move post Brexit?
We actually moved before the end of the Brexit transition period (31 Dec 2020) so we were able to get residency status as EU Nationals. It was as simple as filling in a form and waiting a week for the residency certificate.
However, now that the UK now is no longer part of the EU the process is very different for those with a British passport. There are plenty of people who share their experience in the British Expats in Portugal Facebook group.
Marques Maria: Before moving, and buying, did you need to apply to immigrate to Portugal, or is there some other process to be resident in Portugal.
We didn’t, as we moved prior to the end of the Brexit transition process, but now you need a visa prior to immigrating to Portugal.
Our backup plan was to apply for a D7 visa – also commonly known as the Passive Income or Retirement visa. There are more details on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.
Lori: When moving to Portugal do you have to have a certain income to support yourself or prove you can support yourself?
That very much depends on your nationality and whether you need a visa.
If you are an EU national (ie. you have a passport from an EU country) you can apply for Portuguese residency under the EU right to reside directive. This is how we obtained residency and we didn’t have to provide any evidence of income.
If you are not an EU national you will need to apply for a visa before entering Portugal. There are a series of different visas depending on our situation and most of these do require that you prove a minimum level of income and/or savings.
The income requirement for means of subsistence can be found here on the Portuguese government website, but I have heard that figures higher than this can sometimes be required.
Alison: Can I ask what kind of visa you have? Do you know anything about a freelancer visa?
We (fortunately) didn’t need a visa as we qualified for residency under the EU right to reside directive.
There are a series of visas available depending on your particular situation:
- Short stay visa (or Schengen visa) – a tourist visa for non-EU nationals
- Temporary stay visa – valid for a year typically used for short term work or study
- Residency visa – valid for 4 months while applying for residency, based on numerous work or income conditions (tech, startup, D2, D7)
There is nothing specifically called a freelancer visa, but there are a range of work activities that would qualify for a residency visa (and thus allow you to apply for residency).
If you have a certain level of passive income, retirement income or an independent work activity it’s likely you would qualify. Further documentation can be found here.
There has been talk of a digital nomad visa being introduced, but as yet this has not come to fruition.
Matthew: how are you, or folks similar to you, able to live in Portugal from an immigration perspective, with Brexit taking place, etc.
This is mostly covered above, but post Brexit most people are applying for a D7 visa. This visa allows you to enter the country and then apply for residency.
We would have qualified for the D7 visa, and subsequent residency, based on the passive income streams that we’ve built over the last 10 years.
Kevin: How easy or hard is it to get citizenship?
You can find everything you need to know about obtaining Portuguese citizenship on the Portugal government website.
Be sure not to confuse citizenship with residency – we have Portuguese residency, not citizenship. We will be able to apply for citizenship after living here for 5 years.
If you’re looking for information on how to become a Portuguese resident, the SEF website should be able to answer your questions.
djm215: Having done it yourself (move from the UK), what advice could you give on things you maybe didn’t know when you made the move?
Learning the language is probably the biggest piece of advice we could give. Don’t underestimate how long it takes, and how important it is.
We’re very lucky that so many people do speak English (and we totally weren’t expecting that), but it definitely has a significant impact on our ability to source and buy materials. We knew it would be a challenge in general, but hadn’t really anticipated the impact it often has on the renovation.
Ohh, and don’t take the advice that you see on Facebook as gospel – if you use Facebook groups for information that is. Too much advice is given without context, or is simply incorrect.
I use Facebook a lot to get information, but I don’t trust any of it until I have tried something for myself. Had I listened to Facebook opinions we’d never have bought this house … there’s a general opinion to walk away from properties with land issues. Turns out our land issue was simple enough to solve, just needed the right people and time.
Hanne: What is the one thing, you wish you had known before moving to a new country?
I’ve moved to new countries multiple times (UK, Ireland, Zambia, Guatemala … it’s a long list) and every time I have to remind myself that ‘new country’ is not like ‘old country’.
Be prepared to throw away everything you know about how to live, shop, eat out, get permission (for anything) etc … it all changes when you move to a new country.
Guy’s answer: there wasn’t one thing. We knew that we would need to be willing to adapt to anything that could happen, including moving back to the UK.
Kaz: Hi. How does the Portuguese health system work (for UK residents) and would we need to become Portuguese citizens?
Health care is free for Portugal residents and citizens, much like the UK NHS. There are however some fees that you need to pay for things like emergency room treatment, ambulance transport and some more specialist facilities. The fees however are quite reasonable, typically €5 to €20.
Medical prescriptions also tend to be subsidized, and many things that need prescriptions in the UK are available over the counter (for example, blue inhalers used for asthma).
The Portuguese health system does not cover dental (or cosmetic) work, you would need to find private cover if you need these services.
If you aren’t a Portugal resident, ie. just visiting, then you’d need to arrange your own health insurance and private medical visits.
Robert: What made you decide on Sertã rather than areas such as Fundão, Coimbra?
Mostly because we loved the countryside and architecture in this area. It has great transport links via access to the IC8 motorway, and is about halfway between Lisbon and Porto for visiting family/friends or when we decide to travel abroad again.
We did visit Castelo Branco and Fundão during our property search but felt it was a little isolated and were worried about the more intense weather (much hotter summers and colder winters than where we are).
Having subsequently visited Coimbra – we originally thought it was a little too far north – we could definitely see ourselves in that area too. It would have been a much better choice for access to shops, restaurants etc.
Nichael: Was wondering would you recommend moving to Sertã? And if so what would be your pro cons for the area.
We love the Sertã area, but it’s really only going to work for those people who love rural or small village living.
Pros: beautiful stunning scenery, very relaxed pace of living, right on the IC8, property is affordable, decent local restaurants, supermarkets, shops etc (but not much variation in cuisine)
Cons: it’s a little too far from other cities for shopping at the bigger stores, limited dining/going out options
Tax, Income and Cost of Living
Ibe: how do we earn a living while renovating full time?
Gopi: how do u make money for living?
We have multiple streams of passive income that we have gradually built up over the last 10 years. Guy also occasionally works remotely for some UK clients doing web related work.
Our ‘passive’ income (not really passive at all) primarily comes from UK property rental, website ads and affiliates and YouTube monetisation. We also recently started our Make Do Grow Club which we hope to grow into another income stream.
Mr Jones: Do you still work on your IT jobs on a regular basis (daily, some days per week etc)?
I left IT for good … 20 years in a career that I didn’t really like was enough for sure!
The work that Guy does is much more adhoc than that and typically is on a project basis. This year he’s done 6 weeks work.
Carles: I wonder if Kylie does some remote work as Guy does.
Not in the sense of employed work, or working for someone. I do spend time managing our ‘passive’ income streams however.
Nuno: taxes – how does the UK/Portugal agreement work (for Guy’s work).
The general rule of thumb when it comes to taxes is: you pay tax in the country where you reside, or are tax resident (typically defined as the place where you live more than 183 days of the year). There are, of course, some exceptions to this rule**.
There is a double taxation treaty between the UK and Portugal. You can find more details on the gov.uk website and on the dre.pt website. This effectively means you won’t pay tax on the same income twice.
For our situation, we are both Portugal tax resident and all work is done remotely, so regardless of where Guy’s work comes from, we pay tax in Portugal. It’s a little more complicated however as we have our own UK limited company that we use for all our IT/website related income. This company still pays UK corporation tax, but any income we receive as individuals is taxed in Portugal.
**One of the exceptions to taxation in our case is UK rental income – the UK has explicit taxing rights on this income. We pay UK tax on our rental income, and submit UK tax returns. We also have to declare this income as part of our global income on our Portuguese tax returns.
Portugal will also apply tax on the UK rental income if you would have paid more tax in Portugal – the difference between the two amounts is what we would be taxed in Portugal.
To further complicate matters, we also have Non-Habitual Resident tax status. This is a tax regime, not anything to do with residency, even though resident is in the name (oh yes, confusing as hell!).
NHR gives a degree of tax relief, at different levels, to certain types of income for 10 years. Current legislation includes the following:
- 10% tax on pensions
- 20% tax on employment in certain highly skilled professions
- 0% tax on dividends
- 0% tax on UK rental income and capital gains
If you’re considering moving to Portugal, make sure to check if you might qualify and do that as soon as you can (there’s a deadline of March following when you became tax resident). Here’s how to apply on the Portugal Financas website. No need to pay any fancy agency either, it takes 5 mins and a couple of clicks to do it yourself once you have your NIF.
Audrey: I am a freelancer with mostly clients in NL, and wondering about Portuguese rules and regulations concerning taxes and residency.
The answer to this very much depends on where you are tax resident and how the work is done.
If you were to move to Portugal and become resident, and you did the client work while being physically in Portugal, then you would pay tax in Portugal – regardless of where your clients are.
However, if you travelled to NL to do the work in-person, then typically (but not always) the Netherlands would have taxing rights on this income. Portugal would additionally have the rights to tax if you would have paid more tax in Portugal – the difference between the two amounts is what you would need to pay in Portugal.
There is a double taxation treaty between Portugal and the Netherlands, you can read it here.
Please note: I am not a tax adviser, and am not giving tax advice, but this is my understanding of the complicated tax rules.
Mr Mr: love to know the cost of living where you are. Utilities, health insurance.
After recording the video I double checked our budget and our monthly spending is approx €1055 – this includes all our bills (including an allowance for our annual bills), eating out, groceries etc.
As Portugal residents we have access to free healthcare and so don’t have any health insurance.
Here’s a breakdown of some of bills:
- water – €15 per month (averaged over the year)
- gas – €25 for a large bottle we use for the bbq
- diesel – approx €50 to fill either of the vehicles
- 4g broadband – €30 per month on a pay as you go basis
- 3rd party car insurance (annual): €300 for the Mini, €200 for the pickup
- car tax (annual): €150 per vehicle
And on a regular basis we spend money on:
- dinner for two (main meal plus wine): €12-25 depending on location
- wine (per bottle from the supermarket): €3-€10 (though we did splash out recently on some €15 bottles from the local vineyard)
- milk (uht): 69c per liter
- 6 pack of Super Bock (stout beer): €6
- 4 pack of imported cider: €4.75
- 500g loaf of bread: €2.50
- dozen eggs: €1.89
Please note, we do live a very simple life and spend very little on materialistic things. The above budget also does not include any of the renovation costs.
DiamondTube: Can you talk about your income and costs of living? Maybe give a few tips for remote jobs that would be suitable for this type of lifestyle.
See the above questions and answers for details on income and cost of living.
Remote work would very much depend on the skills that you have, but given the recent global pandemic there are more and more opportunities to find remote jobs.
Here’s a list of types of jobs I’ve seen for remote workers:
- Most IT related jobs – web, design, programming, etc
- Language translation services
- Virtual Assistant services
- Teaching online (for foreign students to learn a language)
- Customer service
- Marketing – copywriting, SEO, social media
Stefan: I have a question about the finance. What if any is the business plan with this place? BnB, selling goods, hotel, selling experiences ect?
We don’t really have (or need) a business plan for anything physical. This project is our home so it will stay private. Merchandise is something that we’ve thought about, but so far we’ve not decided on anything.
We have plenty of ideas of things we could do, but most of them would be digital rather than in-person. There’s our Make Do Grow Club of course and we’ll do some online courses in the future.
I’d love to do another property for BnB purposes, but that’s only if I have anything left in me after this project is complete :)
Renovation and House
Angelaz: what’s the timeframe to move into the house? stages … how about winter?
Tomas: When do you estimate (quarter? I.e. 2022 Q3) you will leave the nest and start living inside the house?
Our current estimate is by the winter 2023 … but that of course is subject to change if we uncover any surprises. This will be us moving into the ground floor but still working on the first floor.
To finish the entire house renovation will probably take another 2-3 years … and even more if we decide to convert the loft.
Alison: Wondering if you can share your project timeline, specifically what you want to have done for winter. Thank you for the chance to ask.
Our current focus for the winter (hopefully before the real rain kicks in) is to get the guttering installed, and all the outside digging, drainage and and a new water feed into the house. That should help us manage a lot of the damp on the ground floor.
After that we’ll focus back on the bathroom, which means: new internal waste pipes, internal water plumbing, and laying the limecrete floor (in the 2 rooms that were dug out). At this point we should have a flushing toilet (and maybe even 2) …. woo hoo!!
Then we’ll move onto the rest of the ground floor … a massive job!
We’ve also got some plans for modifications to our tent setup for the winter which we’ll cover in a future video, stay tuned for that!
Yvonne: How’s the bathroom going?
OMG, it’s a never ending bathroom project :)
We’re hoping to have a flushing toilet as a Christmas present to ourselves. Oh yes, renovation life is glamorous!!
Mark: how are we going to keep warm in the winter in the tent. Won’t the solar shower be a little chilly too?
We have a couple of different sources of heating: a wood burner specially for tents (future video will have more detail), an electric blanket on the bed, and an electric fan that has both hot/cold.
The solar shower will be cold … not chilly, but very cold! We’re going to make a few modifications (again in a future video), but as a backup plan we’ll use a bucket of hot water in the tent in front of the wood burner. Luxurious, definitely not .. but we’ll survive!
Lucy: How are you guys going to manage living in the bell tent during the winter? Not sure how cold or wet it gets in your area, but any tips on how to manage that would be great.
Our basic strategy is to either be working on the house/land, or be sitting in front of the wood burner.
We have a room in the house where we can sit if its raining but it’s not particularly comfortable (and there’s no heating or electric in the house).
Our second strategy is wine … lots of it :)
Cody: Are you going to be in the house by the time it starts to rain? Did you ever show the tent living set up? Best of luck, wish it was me.
We’ll be in the tent for the entire winter / wet season. We will be doing some modifications to our setup next week to prepare us for the bad weather – stay tuned for a video on that.
We did a tent setup video just after we moved on-site, you can find it here:
Solo 50plus Expat Portugal: How are you staying comfortable in the tent…keeping warm and keeping cool with the direct sun light on it all day?
We don’t really spend much time in the tent, other than when we’re sleeping. Most days we’re working on the house/land and only come into the tent at the end of the day. By that time inside the tent has cooled down … on a few occasions we’ve had to use a fan, but it’s not been too often.
During the summer we’ve been able to spend a lot of time outdoors – cooking, eating, chilling .. either under the trees or on the deck.
The winter will be a different story of course, especially as the rain kicks in.
Oleh: wasn’t it simpler and cheaper to knock the house down and build it from scratch?
It possibly would be cheaper, but definitely not easier. Getting permission to knock down (because the house is not a ruin) is required to take it down and rebuild it. That kind of permission can take years in Portugal.
Doing a build from scratch also requires an architect, a building contractor, multiple inspections …. and generally can’t be done DIY. By doing the work as a renovation, via a building license, we can do most of the work ourselves with minimal involvement of anyone else.
Knocking down the house would also not be very eco – it would effectively put to waste all the time, energy and materials that went into building the house in the first place.
As a renovation we can reuse/recycle a lot of the existing materials as well as retain the character and history of the building.
Ana: What was your experience coming from “office sitting” kind of work into physical work?
We transitioned fairly easily, it surprised us given that we weren’t very active in London.
To begin with our bodies definitely let us know that they’d been used and we were sore for a couple of days after doing anything particularly physical.
More recently however, as we’ve got fitter and stronger, we typically recover overnight and don’t have any soreness or aches.
Healthy Move Portugal: Hello i am interested how someone would hide the electric wires for lightswitches, lights and outlets in these old granite buildings/barns.
The easiest way is to render/plaster the walls, and this will be our strategy in a large portion of the house.
For exposed walls there really isn’t an easy option. It would be possible to channel out passages between the stones to feed the cable and point over the top, but that doesn’t really comply with the electrical code of having cable run perpendicular/horizontal from fittings.
The other alternative is to run cables in surface mounted conduit and make a feature of it. I’ve seen copper piping used, either left untouched or painted.
We are planning to only have a couple of exposed walls and will design our electrical plan so that no, or very little, wiring is required on those walls.
Koh Time: Damp seems to be a massive issue all over Portugal with rising damp plaguing many properties we look at. I’m sorry if I have missed but I’m sure your replacing and damp proofing a slab but how are you going about drying out walls?
We are not damp proofing any slabs – we have removed the concrete floor on the ground floor and will be replacing with a limecrete floor (which does not include a damp proof membrane).
Once we have resolved the cause of our damp issues (guttering, drainage, and removal of all the cement/concrete), repointed and re-rendered in lime, and install heating in the building, the walls will dry out all by themselves. That’s one of the reasons that we’re using lime.
Would you suggest or have thought about a full physical membrane or injectable water proofers? Like we use in the uk? Also just another quick thing….. had any earache from council regarding living in temporary structures?
A full physical membrane wouldn’t solve all of the damp issues, mostly because the building doesn’t have a dpc and there’s no way to retrospectively add one into 600mm thick walls.
I also don’t believe (from lots of research and reading) that any of the injectable solutions work – they act as quick fixes (and as such provide some temporary relief) rather than solving the root cause of the issue.
Regarding the temporary structure – no issues at all.
Jessica: Have you had to summit any building plans to local camara? Or because all internal work not needed? If so, how has that process been?
No plans are required for internal renovation works. We did have to apply for a building license to inform the câmara of the works that we are doing. The license stipulates on it that materials must be like-for-like and there can be no changes to the external facade of the property.
The building license involved a quick visit to the câmara, filling in a simple tick box form that took us about 10 minutes, noting down the name of a licensed builder, and payment of a €40 fee. Pain free and very quick. This may not be the same in all municipalities however.
June: Are the prices of building materials esp wood escalating like in the Uk?
Yes, definitely, timber prices have exploded.
Most building materials are generally more expensive here, primarily due to the fact that they are imported and there’s significantly less demand than somewhere like the UK.
Alee: HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO GET RENOVATION BUILDING MATERIALS?
Matthew: Would also be curious to hear more about what life is like for you living out in the middle of the country there – I assume there isn’t a Bunnings or Home Depot nearby so would be interested to hear how you source your building materials, where can you get things and what can’t you get?
Most small towns have an array of small builders merchants, each specialising in a single trade. We’re lucky to have an electrical shop, plumbers merchant and a building aggregates yard very close by.
Sertã has a great industrial estate with a range of different suppliers. The most difficult part is finding/learning who sells what .. hindered once again by our limited Portuguese. These smaller Portuguese businesses often don’t have websites which also makes it difficult to search online.
There are some bigger box stores that have everything you could possibly want, but to date we’ve not visited a single one of them. Leroy Merlin is probably the most well known, but there is also Maxmat and Bricomarché. The closest of any of these stores is over an hour’s drive from where we live.
We typically prefer to support the smaller local businesses and so far we’ve had success finding pretty much everything we’ve needed, but it has taken a little longer than we’re used to.
For a couple of specialist items (joist hangers and carriage bolts) that we couldn’t find locally we’ve resorted to using Amazon. This saved us from a 3 hour round trip in the hope that one of the larger stores would have what we need.
Are you getting that all to your place in your Mini?
We have a ute as well as the Mini.
Also what’s your lifestyle like living there – how are the locals adjusting to you, do you go into town at all? Good Coffee? Any eco-friendly cultural things about Portuguese culture would be neat to see.
We don’t really get out and about too much – we’re either busy building, or recovering from building. The exception to that is when Guy’s parents visit, then we do a few touristy things – check out some of the images on Instagram for that.
There’s a couple of local restaurants we go to on a regular basis, but for food and wine rather than coffee :)
There is good coffee, and great pastries, but it’s rather functional rather than the chillout/hangout café culture that you might be used to.
Bob: how have we found materials, especially eco ones? Do local suppliers have a fair range. What’s the plan for the roof and loft conversion – will we be doing the work?
See the question above for materials in general.
So far we’ve not really had to source too many eco materials, or materials in general since a lot of our time has been spent on rip-out rather than rebuild.
Here’s what we have sourced so far:
- Some wood fibre insulation (imported) and lime (a Portuguese product) which were easy to source.
- Leca (light weight expanded foam) is readily available as it’s produced in Portugal.
- All our solar equipment (Dutch brand) was sourced from a Portuguese company only 45 minutes from where we live.
- And there are a couple of really good timber yards locally that have great options.
We originally thought that we would do our own roof replacement, but it’s more likely that we’ll use a local builder (dependant on his availability).
Ideally, we would like them to do the roof structure repairs, and re-roofing (including installing insulation etc) and then we’ll do all the internal works to create a large master suite with bathroom.
Martin: What type of heating are you planning?
On the ground floor we’ll have underfloor heating across the entire footprint of the building – hot water provided by an air source heat pump.
On the first floor we’ll have a wood burner in the snug (the room that is currently the kitchen) since there is already a chimney in that room. We’re currently still deciding on whether to put in water based radiators or a heat recovery / exchange system. More research on the latter is required.
Machelle: When will the guest room be ready ? As I was typing, I heard Kylie say in my head say after the bathroom for sure..lol
Ha ha … 2025 at the earliest!
Huw: Do you guys have an overarching project plan for the house that you can walk us through? i.e. what projects you’re attacking in what order and why? Keen to understand how you plan out such a massive multi-faceted project. I know you’ve kind of talked about this at various points in the vids but a dedicated vid would be cool too.
We don’t have a master plan on paper, but we are planning to create a high level one very soon (this very question made me think it would be a good idea to have – most of the plan is currently in my head).
One of the challenges that we’ve faced in the past with having a master plan is that so much time goes into the planning phase, then you run into an issue that throws the plan out of whack. Renovation plans with time frames also can cause anxiety and overwhelm, especially when things run over.
So we tend to take a more agile approach to planning now, (agile is a methodology used in the tech industry for delivering software) and only plan on paper for 90 days (at a high level) and on a weekly basis in order to have materials onsite etc.
I am however constantly researching (to solve problems and find solutions) and thinking/rethinking ideas.
If we can find a way to get everything out of my head and onto paper, and think of an interesting way to present that, we might make a video – just not sure how easy that will be!
Greg: Do you think you could have done what you have done with no previous experience?
Excellent question! If I didn’t have previous experience I probably would have thought that I could have done the work anyways – I have a very ‘can do’ attitude. I’d have then realised I was in over my head and either called in some help, or very quickly learnt how to do the required work :)
You don’t need previous experience to have a go, but having that experience definitely helps when knowing what to expect and working out how to tackle some of the bigger challenges.
There’s many elements of this project that we have no prior experience of (building windows, laying a limecrete floor, installing guttering/drainage, plastering .. the list goes on) but we will work out how to do it all and get it done. Maybe we’ll have to do a few things more than once to get it right, but that’s just part of the process.
Christof: I’m curious about your septic tank situation :-)
I can send you a photo if you like :)
Dr Karl: I’ve been quite impressed with the extent of your technical knowledge regarding the renovation of vernacular buildings. I was wondering if, primarily, you researched all of the information yourself or, if you largely rely on professional advice? If the former, how do you distinguish between information & misinformation in sources of material available online?
So much research, literally days and days of it! I watch a wide variety of YouTube videos (of differing levels of quality and experience), read a lot of blog posts, white papers and forums.
By reading lots of different sources I can start to see which ones are full of incorrect information. I can also quickly tell which ones aren’t relevant to our context – for example, there is a lot of U.S. information that wouldn’t apply to an old stone building.
I’m also a member of many building Facebook groups, here’s a couple I highly recommend if you’re interested:
- Building, Renovating and DIY in Portugal
- Building with Lime – Mortars, Plasters & Renders
- Building Natural Ponds (for the future)
Emma: Can you recommend any books or other resources on natural renovations? (Apart from your great videos of course!) There seems to be a lot on natural building from scratch but not so much on renovating. Thank you
The Historic England website has been a great resource for learning about stone buildings, particularly their publications on insulating solid ground floors in old buildings.
I’ve done a LOT of research on different topics, so if there is something specific you’re looking for drop me an email and we can have a chat.
Ram: Would you consider using local non eco friendly products to cure the damp problems. If they save time, effort, money and transportation eco costs? Thank you
I’m not sure that there are any better solutions to the damp problems that we have, but we do often consider non-eco products/solutions if they suit better.
We bought a petrol chipper and a diesel powered BCS not because they were eco (because they aren’t) but because they are best suited for the job, and were available locally.
Joanne: you said on one of your vlogs that you were glad to have purchased such a small plot..I would like to know the size..in acres if you could? So I know what ‘small’ is ;-) The other question is, are you where you expected to be at this point in time with your renovations? Behind..ahead? Wonderful job so far, it is going to be a beauty ;-)
The land is approx 3700 sq meters, or just under an acre.
When we started we didn’t really set times on our plan, because we want to enjoy the process and we aren’t on a strict timeline.
Sure we’d have liked to have progressed further, but we have enjoyed the process a lot more than in previous renovations because we’re trying not to pressure ourselves with set timeframes.
Now that we’re planning in 90 day cycles we are getting more done than we expected … let’s hope that holds true as we move into next year!
Francois: Why are you renovating with lime and not cement ? Sureley it would have been easier ? I have been in the building and construction trade as a plumber and building inspector for over 45 years ! In South Africa ,New Zealand and Australia ! This is new to me .
The simplest answer: lime is more appropriate for stone buildings built with earthen mortar, and particularly because there is no dpc.
And here’s the slightly longer more detailed answer:
Stone buildings without dpc’s need to breathe and allow some movement. First let’s look at breathability.
Moisture will always wick up into the walls because the stone walls are built straight onto the earth, this moisture will dampen the earthen mortar that’s between the stones. These walls are approx 600mm thick so there’s no possibility of removing all that earthen mortar.
Lime has a very high level of permeability – meaning that moisture can pass through it. Pointing and rendering in lime allows the moisture that gets into the walls to travel from the earthen mortar to the lime and eventually pass out via heating and evaporation.
Cement on the other hand has really low permeability – it does absorb moisture, but it tends to stay trapped rather than pass through – which means you’d end up with damp walls (not dripping wet, just damp) and this inevitably leads to damp smells and often mold. This is often compounded by condensation issues if there’s not sufficient insulation, heating and ventilation (other very significant issues in older Portuguese buildings).
The second reason for using lime has to do with building movement.
The nature of older stone construction, and in particular those built with earthen mortar and minimal foundations, means that there is often some movement in the building – not noticeable to the eye, but it’s there. Lime is a relatively flexible material and allows that movement while creating minimal cracking of render etc.
Cement on the other hand is very hard. It’s designed to be strong and durable, and there are some great situations where it is the perfect solution. But in a stone building like ours, it tends to prevent any natural movement of the building and will often cause cracking.
On the exterior of our house, and particularly on the staircase, where some cement render has been used, cracking can be seen. This cracking then allows moisture, from rain in this case, getting into the stone walls and traps it there, leading back to the moisture issue explained above.
There’s also an eco reason to use lime, though that’s not our primary driver for using it. Lime can be reused, it requires less energy to produce and absorbs carbon dioxide from the environment.
Ralf: but do you show us your plans about the little huts next to the house? Do you have a final garden masterplan? What’s about the garden gates, do you want to restorate them too?
We don’t as yet have any plans for those outbuildings – we do have plenty of ideas however. Before we can do any rebuilding of those buildings we actually need to get them registered – our lawyer will be helping us with that once the land registry paperwork comes through for the land purchase (can take a couple of months for the paperwork).
A garden masterplan is also in the works … but nothing final has been decided. It’s something that we’ll be working on over the winter when the days are shorter and we’ll be inside more when it turns dark.
We do have some significant garden infrastructure that we want to build, and for sure there will be videos on that once anything is decided.
The garden gates will definitely be restored and reused, just not sure how or where just yet.
Portmom: Do you ever use local outside help in your projects?
We have a builder who acts as a consultant – he helped us come up with the solution when we removed the old fireplace hearth support.
But in terms of labour and doing actual work onsite, to date we’ve not had any outside help. We do plan to have local builders redo our roof – probably not for a year or two however.
Sam: What surprises have you had throughout your renovations? Something you thought would be a very simple fix, but wasn’t visa versa- are there any other areas of the country you would be keen to live in? Why Central Portugal opposed to north/south?
The woodworm damage was probably the biggest surprise – we’ve had to rip out a lot more that we expected, and that will take a lot of effort and materials to replace.
On the other hand, the digging out of the two ground floor rooms was much faster than I expected. I had planned on it taking about 5 weeks but it only took 2. This is great as we still have another 2/3 of the ground floor to do!
We’ve not really visited too many other areas in Portugal, but we would definitely be keen to live in Lisbon. In fact, that was our original plan until we saw the property prices in Central Portugal.
Gaby & René: I was wondering how you ended up choosing Portugal over countries with similar climates such as Spain, Italy or such. I also wonder how you navigate the legal landscape, such as what things you are or aren’t allowed to do yourself. Especially compared to the UK where you need sort planning permissions or building regulations and often need to get qualified people in to do certain works.
For choice of country, see the first question in the list.
Regarding the legal landscape and regulations, there are a couple of ways.
The first, and most important, is by asking the câmara. They issued the building license and it sets out what we can do, and what if anything needs to be inspected etc.
Secondly, I have read most of the Portuguese building regulations – they are online but typically in Portuguese, so a good translation app is required. These are open to interpretation so if there’s any doubt I revert to overdoing it and using the UK regs to be safe.
And finally, the Building, Renovating and DIY in Portugal Facebook group is an amazing source of information.
Meryllin: I am absolutely amazed by how much knowledge you both have regarding renovating your property are you both self-taught or have you completed some sort of course/certification? In addition, the modifications to your house seem quite substantial. Considering the building restrictions/laws in Portugal, how are you able to make these modifications yourself?
Our knowledge and experience is a combination of a couple of building courses, 3 past projects in London and a hell of a lot of research (and just getting on and trying things). There’s more detail about the courses we’ve done and our previous projects in episode 15.
Our câmara allows this type of work via a building license – it sets out what we can and can’t do. All the work we’re doing is classed as internal renovation, has to be done with like-for-like materials, and can’t change the external facade.
You can do an entire roof replacement and ruin rebuild with a building license in most cases – as long as you aren’t increasing the building footprint.
Brooke: how is the banana tree going?
They went through a rough patch but are now doing very well! We have two dwarf banana trees which struggled a bit in the harsh sun but since we moved them into an area with partial shade, they’re doing much better.
Kelly: manageability of fruit trees (for a retired couple, casual gardeners) – where’s the tipping point where it becomes too much
Given everything we’ve got going on at the moment you could say that our situation is bordering on too much. There are some trees that we had to choose not to harvest this year as we don’t have capacity for processing the produce.
It is a bit stressful when we hear fruit dropping all over the place because it makes us want to do something other than composting it all. But, compost at least has a benefit to us in the veg garden so it’s not all bad.
We didn’t know the extent of the number and variety of fruit trees when we bought the place (because it was so overgrown) but if we were to intentionally plant the trees we’d choose to have no more than 2-3 of any variety (with the exception of olives and vines).
This would be a more reasonable amount to manage and would mean we don’t end up with more produce than we can consume. For example, we have 6 very large orange trees and there’s no way we can eat that many, drink that much juice or make that much orange wine or marmalade!
Matthew: Was wondering if you guys have any issues with bugs or birds getting to your crops or if that’s something you’re thinking about. Just curious if you guys are running into anything similar and if so do you have an eco friendly way/plan to deal with it?
We have had some pest damage in the garden but nothing too major. We’ve had some flea beetle and some snail and bird damage on some of the cabbages. We had something (maybe voles) eat half of our carrots and some onions. We’ve had a few black fly on beans but not much else.
We accidentally planted some tobacco and apparently the leaves can be dried and then made into a tea which can be used as a natural pesticide. We’ve also used vinegar and a few drops of washing up liquid as a natural weed killer for dealing with some of the ferns that pop up in the veg beds from time to time.
Runningwoman: Are you going to harvest the olives? And are you going to press out your own olive oil?
Yes we are going to harvest the olives. We’ll probably brine some for eating and then harvest the rest and give them to our neighbours (if they want them). They can take them to be pressed and they can have the olive oil for themselves. If we get a couple of bottles that would be a bonus.
In future we plan to prune the trees to bring them back to health and potentially experiment with pressing our own oil – or taking it to the local lagar – ourselves.
Leslie: which mail order sources can one order live trees and plants from as well as seeds? Do you have favourites?
I don’t know about trees but there is a mail order seed company called Sementes Vivas which we plan to use for specific varieties of seeds in future (we’ve not ordered from them yet but they do have an online shop).
At the moment we don’t have a greenhouse, poly tunnel or cold frame for starting many things from seed so predominantly we buy plug plants from the local agricultural store or garden centre. In future we’ll grow much more from seed.
David: have you tried alheira yet?
Yes. I imagine there are some that are very good and some that are very average. I have a feeling I’ve only tried average ones. I do love a bit of sausage but haven’t had a great alheira experience yet.
Pedro: would we be willing to visit someone’s property in the north to give an opinion on the best way to restore it – has similar stone walls.
I’d recommend finding a local professional who can come round as needed to advise. We’re not professional and can’t really offer this kind of service. Plus, we barely have enough time to work on our own project at this stage.
Katherine: How is your Portuguese coming along ? Are you taking classes (are they easy to find) or are you just learning by practicing with the locals?
Wesley: Have you guys found the language easy to learn? What difficulties are you facing?
Denis: Please talk about the Portuguese language and how’s it been in terms of adaptation/challenges you’re facing with a foreign language.
Portuguese is a challenging language to learn but it’s beautiful and I like it a lot. Most of our learnings have been through online courses but also listening to the radio, watching TV (kids TV is a good choice because they use smaller words!) and even turning on Portuguese subtitles on UK/USA series and movies.
We practice a bit when talking to our neighbours and of course speak whenever we go to bars, restaurants or the supermarket. We’ve found that many people (particularly those under 40) speak at least some English. This has been very useful in scenarios when we’ve needed to have more complex conversations about things like buying property, vehicles, legal conversations and when sourcing some building supplies.
Vinicius: When and how did you meet each other? :)
In a bar in the financial district of London on Kylie’s 35th birthday. The rest is history!
Cindy: Are children in your plans?
No. We’re a bit too old for that now.
Wesley: I don’t want to be tied to a computer / remote work for business, what, if any jobs are possible doing there for minimum wage? Happy to drive / pack shelves twice a week and happy to cycle or commute around 20kms.
If you can speak Portuguese almost any job would be up for grabs. If you don’t speak the language your options may reduce drastically.
From our limited experience, there’s not much work in the region but you’d probably find it easier to secure minimum wage jobs than something high-flying and office based.
Marie-Helene: Kylie likes to knit, what are her favourite things she has knitted?
I do love to knit and has been knitting for about a year or so (I started around the time covid kicked in – early 2020) . I’ve made hats, scarves, socks and a number of blankets.
Sophie: where does Kylie get her energy from?
It’s not energy, it’s pure drive and determination! Some would even call it stubbornness :)
Horacio: How are you finding living in a small community for your day to day needs? Have the locals been helpful or not?
Italian1a: I love watching your progress. I was wondering if you have any interaction with your neighbors or any other local? We always see you both isolated in your land but I’m sure that is only what we see on camera. You both seem to be social and fun loving. Have you participated in any local festivals or outings?
We have many interactions with the neighbours and wave or say hello to at least one of them almost every day. They have been incredibly welcoming and have given us sacks of potatoes, beans, kilos and kilos of fruit and even their homemade wine and aguardiente.
One of our neighbours has children our age who speak English which has helped us integrate more easily. They’ve shared old photos of the house with us and given us starter cultures for kefir and kombucha. We’ve returned the favour on a slightly smaller scale, giving them some of our excess produce.
We are truly blessed to feel part of this small community. It’s such a different way of life to where we came from in the big city but I wouldn’t change it for anything.
Nicole: What have you figured out about reglazing your windows? I love the old wood multi-pane windows but hate being cold
How to approach the windows is an on-going discussion. We might start with single glazed versions and then move on to double glazed ones in future once our woodworking skills have ramped up a notch (and we have a proper workshop space!).
Double glazed windows will definitely keep the heat in better but there’s something so charming about the single glazed, old style design that we just love!
Where/how did you find a good realtor and legal advise/a lawyer to help you with the purchase of the house? Any recommendations maybe? Thanks in advance!
We met the guy we ended up buying the house from when enquiring about another property. He was very proactive and suggested a number of other places we could view as he works with a handful of real estate agents in the area. He was also the one that introduced us to our lawyer.
We were lucky to find good people who have continued to offer help and advice since we bought the house. If you get in touch via social media or our contact form we can put you in touch with our lawyer and real estate guy.
Dp1533: Will we see more diagrams or 3D mockups of the house or property? I know they’re a lot of work but I absolutely love them!
We will show them as much as we can to help explain some of the design decisions as the project progresses. They do take a lot of work but they’re super valuable for complex projects and thinking through all the design options.
Sketchup plans to look forward to include: Kylie’s wood store; our plumbing plan for the black, grey and rainwater; and the staircase design…
Maria: I’m a Brit living in France. It would be interesting to know more about Kylie and where she grew up in Australia. I presume she grew up with brothers, re her Ozzy no nonsense, get on with it approach ;) Fair dinkum mate
I am originally from Brisbane and have two brothers – one is a very typical aussie bloke, the other is a little more reserved. My mother however is very no nonsense and I suspect that might go to explain a lot!
Fergal: Are there any grants/subsidies in Portugal for adopting green energy solutions? Is there a reward scheme like the RHI in the UK?
There are – in fact Portugal is making a lot of strides in this area. While there are grants available they are only available to certain types of projects that have licensed commercial builders (and potentially architects) involved.
The builder has to apply for the grant/subsidy on your behalf so it’s not something that we can take advantage of. As such we’ve not looked into the specifics of what’s available too much.
Alice: We never really see what you guys cook for yourselves. You seem like foodies – really curious about what you make and whether of not you’ve switched over to the Portuguese diet.
I’m not entirely sure what you mean by “the Portuguese diet” but we definitely eat a lot of meat, cheese, bread and soups! We are foodies but you don’t see us cook too much because we don’t have a kitchen or suitable space that works well for filming.
Probably the most foodie content you’ll find is on our Instagram feed where we share shots of things we’ve grown and cooked from time to time.
Maria: Can you guys recomend a lawyer & buyer’s agent and also did you bought the property before having the architect project aproved/permit to built/rebuilt, or you got the aproval and then buy it?
If you get in touch via social media or our contact form we can put you in touch with our lawyer and real estate guy.
We bought before having any permit but knew it would be straightforward to get a building license from the câmara.
Holfast: I’m wondering if you’ve given any thought to how you are going to furnish the house or where you’re going to source your furniture from. High street, thrifting, DIY, custom, etc? Will you consider the style of the house or go in another direction? Will it be cohesive in style or more eclectic? So many things to consider!
We’ve not given much thought to this so far as it’s quite a long way away. However, we plan to style the house in a way that’s sympathetic to the building.
You might call it “modern farmhouse” or “eco modern” but it will be a combination or furniture and fittings we already have, some upcycled items we inherited from the house and some pieces we will design and build ourselves.
Have you considered using an electric shower in the future? It uses quite a bit of electricity, but if solar powered, it’s better than burning gas to heat the water.
We plan to have all our hot water produced by an air-source heat pump. This runs off solar electric and heats a hot water cylinder. This hot water can then be used for underfloor heating, radiators and hot running water.
We don’t plan to have any mains gas connected to the property but may still keep a small gas stove as a backup if we’re running low on solar. We also have a gas BBQ but may look at alternative options when we build our outdoor cooking and living space.
Joao: I love the videos, they come across very authentic to your personalities or so it seems, good work! I hear about some expats purchasing land in Portugal and being mislead on the property boundaries. My question is about the survey I believe you mentioned in a previous video, wondering how much was the cost and weather they came out and pined/staked the boundary lines of your property.
We’ve definitely heard horror stories of people being ripped off or mis-sold plots of land. The only advice we can give is do your due diligence and try to find a good lawyer to double check all the paperwork before you sign anything. We had two surveys done.
The first one was a building survey which we had done before we finalised the offer. This was essentially to check the structural integrity of the building and to highlight any major issues before buying. This cost €370.
The second survey was instructed by our lawyer as part of the purchase of the land. This involved a guy coming out with some very fancy equipment to mark out the corners of all the boundaries and extent of each building. This cost €500.
Wallace: Hi, curious about any information on insurance for retirees. We think the Portugal Automobile Association might be affordable. It’s very difficult to obtain info here in the U.S. Thanks and we love the videos.
Hi, other than car insurance we don’t have any insurance here in Portugal so can’t speak too much to what’s on offer, how it works or which solutions might be most suitable for you.
João: Boas, parabéns pelos vossos vídeos. Eu pergunto se vocês fizeram a vindima da vossa vinha? (Hi, congratulations on your videos. I ask if you have harvested your vineyard?)
Yes, we made our first “vindima” in mid September. We harvested a whole load of black and white grapes, crushed and pressed them. We ended up with about 10 litres of white grape juice to make a white wine and about 20 litres of black grape juice to make red wine.
We’re experimenting with natural wine making which uses no yeast, preservatives or added sugar. We’re filming the whole process and will release the video when we’ve completed everything from harvest to bottling.
Dille: Are you thinking of getting a dog in the future? That dog would absolutely love the lifestyle you have
It’s definitely something we’ve discussed. Kylie loves dogs and Guy doesn’t so it’s a tricky topic. A dog may be very useful to have around when we get animals such as chickens. However, looking after a dog takes quite a bit of work and we definitely don’t have capacity for that at the moment.
Ima&Graeme: Hi guys from wet North Coogee Western Australia 🇦🇺 Hope your both doing well? My question is will you be doing your outdoor kitchen in the outside oven room? After you finish your house conversions.
The “oven room” or the “bake house” as we call it will be the location of our prep kitchen where we’ll process harvests from the land, can and preserve food as well as make wine and cider.
We plan to keep the old bread oven and clean up the stone walls and make them a feature of the space. Ultimately we also want to turn this into a camera-friendly space where we can shoot recipe videos and make content for online courses.
permaculture_farmer: We’re going to be in Portugal from Christmas this year for about four weeks. The place we’re staying at is near the coast just north of Lisbon. Do you have any recommendations of things we shouldn’t miss while there? Happy to travel around. Also general idea of weather that time of year? Just want to be prepared.
We’ve been to Obidos and Peniche which are north of Lisbon on the coast – highly recommend both in spring/summer but not sure about winter visits.
Generally speaking the weather will be cold but often still sunny. The nights are cold. The sun may shine during the day. You might have overcast days. It might rain. You may even get snow in some parts. The winters are mu
Jayme: Brazilian here living in Porto and dreaming about one day to buy my own land too, do you think a farm like yours is possible to manage by only one person in the free time? I’m too a technology worker like you two and my spouse and 2 girls would not be too thrilled to be far from the civilization and with that many work to do. Well my wife I’m sure of it. Love your series of videos, keep em coming and I’ll keep liking them
A plot of about an acre is potentially manageable by one person but you’d need quite a bit of free time – or at least quite a bit of flexibility in your schedule – to be able to manage such a place.
For us it’s not about the size of the plot but about how many things on that plot need your attention. We have quite a density of fruit trees, vines and olives and they require varying amounts of time and attention throughout the year. If you wanted to grow a lot of veg, crops and have productive fruit trees there’s quite a bit of work involved to keep on top of everything and enjoy the fruits of your labour.
Benjamin: As a blacksmith i’d love to know if you’ve found any metal detailing/hinges/hasps/hand tools in your house or around the property which look to be forged by hand? And is there a distinct blacksmithing tradition that has survived in any capacity in your area? many thanks for your enjoyable content!
We’ve not found too many tools and have yet to deal much with metal work. I can’t really speak to the prevalence of blacksmithing in the country or local area.
I do know there’s a shop not too far away that will make pretty much anything you want out of metal – but that’s about as close as it gets as far as I know.
Leena: Hi! Love how Kylie uses heavy metal for hard work. Is this your Aussie background AC/DC etc or has it crept up on you? A playlist would be great!
Music is a great way to get in the zone and pump up the productivity. Kylie listens to a lot of Foo Fighters but not too much heavy metal.
Guy prefers chill out electronica but enjoys some rock and roll from time to time, depending on the task.
Day Tripper: Any close encounters with snakes? Or rodents or spiders?
Not really. The snakes and spiders are primarily harmless (at least to humans) and while we see evidence of rodents (and our cats catch mice and voles) there’s no major stories to report.
Gail: How are you managing to integrate into your local community? Have you found it easy to settle in?
We feel very welcome in the village. We’ve connected with our three immediate neighbours and they’re incredibly warm and friendly – even though there’s a bit of a language barrier.
We’ve never lived in such a rural setting before and find the whole experience very different to living in a city. In our last place in London we lived in a ground floor flat in a terraced house. We lived mere metres away from our neighbours, spoke the same language but barely saw or knew them.
Here we wave and greet the locals every day as we go about our work on the project. It’s a very different way of life and I’m surprised – but pleased – how quickly we’ve adapted to such a change of pace.
Carlos: What do think of the ideia to to an “open day house party” and receive your youtube fans ? cheers Charles
As introverts the idea of hosting an open house party for potentially hundreds or thousands of people is terrifying.
We like our own space and prefer small gatherings rather than crowds of people. While we share what we’re doing with the project as a way to inspire others, we prefer to keep to ourselves for the most part.
Morningstar: Are the authorities as draconian about mandates as the rest of Europe and how is the medical system there for various mental illnesses. Are the people faithful to God
We’ve not had much experience of dealing with the authorities. Portugal does have quite a lot of bureaucracy – but so do most countries. We can’t really speak to the rest of Europe and the UK has its own issues.
We’ve not used the medical facilities (other than registering for healthcare which is free to all residents) and don’t have any mental illness so can’t speak to that either. The Portuguese people are primarily Catholic and there are a lot of churches dotted throughout the villages – I’m not sure if that qualifies as the people being faithful to God or not but that’s our observations.
Chris: Are you going to offer a volunteering holiday? Perhaps with the fruit harvest? As if you need help! Have tent, will travel. How about an Air BnB when finished?
As previously mentioned, we want to keep our home a private place. We don’t want people coming and going all the time but do have ideas for how to engage with the community via meetups and some future projects.
Midlife Crisis: I think its the Donald Rumsfeld question really, what were your big “known unknowns” and what were your big “unknown unknowns”?
The biggest known unknowns were relating to the septic tank and the water feed. We knew there was a septic tank but we didn’t know it’s location, size or suitability (to be honest, we still don’t know much about it in terms of suitability but we do at least know where it is now!). We’ve found both and are now able to work backwards from how the existing plumbing connects to them so we can add and upgrade them both.
In terms of unknown unknowns, the biggest one was the land. We had no idea what it would take to manage, how much was enough or too much and in particular we had no idea about the about of time and effort it takes to clear the land and harvest the produce from the trees. Something that sounds simple like cider or wine making takes hours to harvest everything and then multiple hours to process and preserve.
I guess you could call YouTube another unknown unknown in so much that we had no idea how popular or “successful” the videos would be. We initially planned to make a few videos to show people back home what we were up to. Now it’s become an integral part of the project and hopefully will lead to some more exciting future opportunities.
Making the videos is a lot of work but we enjoy the process (for the most part) and learn a lot from all the comments and suggestions. And it’s very humbling for us to know that we’re reaching so many people and inspiring them with new ideas and possibilities for things they might do in their own lives.