GET IT IN WRITING!
It is of paramount importance that any agreements with the architect, project manager and the builder should be in writing and, if necessary, translated to ensure that there is no misunderstanding. All details of cost estimates and time estimates should be recorded as well as meetings and, where applicable, sent to those who attended the meeting so that everyone is aware of their responsibilities and your expectations. It is also useful to take intermittent photographs of the progress of the construction not only as an 'official' record but for the family album!
FIND A GOOD LAWYER
All of the relevant contracts and agreements should be drawn up by your lawyer to guarantee that they comply with the current legislation. There may be wisdom also in instructing your lawyer to handle the stage payments to the various contractors upon the satisfactory completion of the work. We are happy to make a few recommendations.
BEWARE OF ALTERATIONS!
Detailed plans for your villa have to be submitted to the local authority (câmara) for approval and your building team will, of course, be working from these plans. Any radical changes will mean they have to be resubmitted for new approval which could involve costly delays.
It is worth being aware that suppliers do not always hold large stocks of certain materials, so if you change your mind about floor tiles, doors etc. the delivery may take several weeks. Making significant changes once the building work is under way is inviting frustrating delays and provides the excuse for contractors to increase prices. Our final advice is to take time in the planning stages to get every detail as you want it. Then, if possible, stick to it!