Not sure what this is all about? This is a report on one of the property candidates for our crowdfunding campaign to create a co-owned co-operative coliving space!
- it's got a brick chimney — an itsy bitsy little chimney
- complex of huge buildings straddling a (burbling!) stream, with large terraced garden
- in a quiet little valley at the edge of town, and a natural park
- generous common spaces across over 12 rooms, plus outside
- cheaper fractional ownership, with shares for 1 month ensuite around €1500
- rentals at €550 (mid-season) comparable to Lisbon inclusive of expenses, coworking (and more)
- up to 80 seat auditorium
- 4m high ceilings and huge windows
- modern factory (left) is easy to convert as is formed concrete
- many of the rooms will be naturally cool
- walking distance (20mins) to station, town centre and closest shop
- 10mins bike/30mins walk to supermarkets and country club
- incorporates large cohousing units
- canal with spring water at top of garden
- zipline into a natural splash pool anyone?!
- significant work required to rebuild two stories of front wall for third building
- basic path 10mins away; nearest hiking 45mins across town
- higher price thus negotiations could be problematic without adequate acquisition pledges, yet there's possibility of deferred payment or coverage with new cohousing
- the town's suburbs are a bit ugly, yet partly hidden by the valley and there's greenery all around, thus a very good balance of proximity to town and nature
- external plumbing (across front of modern building) and pumped sewerage are required yet can be hidden with climbing plants
- railway bridge crossing the valley in front of the property, yet is a single-track electrified line with slow trains as station is next door, and only 7 per day; the bridge is the only exposed part of the line (about 100m) so passage is also very brief (personally I like the architecture and reminder of being connected to the world!)
The area — Covilhã, Portugal🇵🇹
☃️ 14–19°C 🏖 33–39° ☀️ 13 days ☔️ 9 days
- a small town located on the edge of the Serra da Estrela, Portugal's highest point at 2,000m in a large natural park with spring water and many natural swimming spots
- multiple direct trains every day to Lisbon only 3h30 and just €10, or Porto by coach (3h30), train (5h) or car (2h), Madrid by coach (6h+) maybe train soon
- historically centred around wool and textile production, and still today, yet primarily a university town with multiple campuses, and innovation labs
- mild winter temperature of 14°C yet up in the park it gets snow and has a (tiny) ski station
- thanks to its several valleys the town feels small with a population of only ~35k, although it does have some ugly burbs
- has fibre internet and free wifi in town; is also base for one of the world's largest datacentres thus promising a good reliable connection
- there's a number of restaurants, including two veggie and one moderately fancy, some relaxed cafés, a shopping centre/multiplex, several supermarkets, and an organic shop
- a great streetart festival, a big nightclub and some annual events
- the neighbouring (and equally small) towns are close at 30–45 mins by train, otherwise Lisbon and Porto are awesome and not too far for couple of days escape (staying at Selina!)
- not an unreasonable distance to remain connected with the Lisbon ecosystem, both attracting visitors and enabling members to escape for days away
- most activities are 20–40mins by bike or drive, which gets you well into the natural park or down the river
- within striking distance there's hiking, SUP, paragliding, mountain biking, ski/snowboarding, horse riding, kayaking…
- country club with tennis, squash, pool and restaurant serving a daily €10 menu
- several public gardens and spots to chillout in town
- on a very steep hill, but if you're not up for it, there's lifts and local busses
- covered municipal market with local producers, with organic stalls every week supported by a local association (also at neighbouring town 30mins by train)
Some points against the area:
Some photos from my exploration of both the valley where the properties are, and up in the natural park.
Some pilfered photos of the town and park.
- in the long could get much hotter with less water, yet is on the only tall mountain in Portugal and thus first on the atlantic
- whilst daytime temperatures in winter remain reasonable there is a significant proportion of cloudy and rainy days, nonetheless this should not be a concern as we mostly work indoors, and can be flexible about when to take advantage of the sunny days
This video explores the annual streetart festival, and also gives some great glimpses around the area which comprises everything from gritty sixties edifices, the classic old buildings of stone and tiles and of course the natural landscape!
2750m² across 4 floors and 3 buildings • 2000m² land
OKAY 🔨 effort
OKAY 💰 value
GREAT ☀️ climate
GREAT 🚃 transport
GOOD 🛒 shops
GREAT 📡 internet
AWESOME 🎪 capacity
GREAT 🌷 garden
GREAT 🏠 building
GOOD 🏘 neighbourhood
GOOD 🏇 activities
GOOD 🏔 nature
OKAY 🏙 towns
GOOD ✈️ access
GOOD ♻️ sustainability
Scores okay on value due to size and acquisition cost. Okay on effort as first building is easy but second is actually much harder however can be deferred. Great on garden thanks to stream and terraces. Only good on neighbourhood due to railway. Okay on towns due to there being few, and provincial. Good on sustainability thanks to climate (mild winter and mostly natural cooling in summer), plus if with solar and/or hydro (not budgeted).
Part of the garden terraces and the vines trailing over their steps.
This panorama shows the valley from the ridge above the property (dead centre), so you can see that whilst there's some larger apartment blocks they are a fair distance away and in the immediate vicinity it is mostly green with few neighbours. There are tiny paths dotted between the equally small agricultural plots across the valley.
The bridge and lower valley from the quiet lane next to the property. The only neighbours downstream are one more empty factory and a house, further on the suburbs emerge with apartment blocks visible.
- auditorium/cinema 110m² for 50–80 places
- multipurpose 110m² for events/exhibitions
- quiet library 55m² for contemplation
- lobby 35m² for 7 places + 10m² lab
- workshop 25m² for DIY
- storage 20m² for all your stuff
- shed 25m² for bikes and machinery
- workout room 60m² + 20m² for yoga on cold days
- kitchenette 60m² for quick cookups
- kitchen/dining 160m² for the heart of the home
- lounge 160m² for relaxed engagement
- lively workroom 120m² for 26 places
- quiet workroom 80m² for 14 places
- work lounge 45m² with sofas and armchairs
- breakout room 30m² for small team activities
Basic rooms will generally be reserved for volunteers. Some units are not allocated for rental to facilitate co-owner bookings. Typical capacity would be 24 persons, but potentially increasing to 75 for occasional events.
- 7 premium studios (cohousing) 45m² ensuite, + mezzanine, two huge windows
- 2 studios 35m² ensuite, kitchenette, two windows
- 10 premium 20m² ensuite + mezzanine bed, micro kitchen
or 25m² ensuite
- 17 standard 15m² ensuite + mezzanine bed
or 20m² ensuite
- 4 basic 15m² with shared bathrooms
- 1 dorm shared with 6 pods
- kitchen patio
- lounge patio (small)
- covered patio
- terraced garden, multiple levels, one large
- natural splash pool (possibly)
- stream/workspace patio
Offers a large number of units, which despite the increased costs has many benefits, and needn't all be fitted out immediately. We can welcome more volunteers and run more residencies, such as hosting artists participating in the streetart festival. We would also be able to host Wifitribe/Remote Year type programmes, and larger more diverse events such as festivals! Finally of course, it means booking fo co-owners will be much easier as we could have a larger availability reserved for share use.
The variety and distance amongst these spaces means that different folks could simultaneously be having a high-octane karaoke session and be seeking quiet solitude in the library or by the stream, perhaps even avoiding each other (heaven forbid!).
The land is not included as being sold with the house above, with an asking price of €60k. Without the land the property is undesireable thus making the negotiations potentially more difficult.
It is towards the bottom of the undeveloped little valley with all the abandoned factories, as such is quieter than the middle but not as much as the top, and feels as if it's not in the town, nor the suburbs. There's lots of small agricultural plots with trees all around, and a spring feeding an irrigation channel.
The railway is quite prominent with its singletrack bridge hanging across the valley just on front of the buildings. The property does have terraces that look up the valley as well.
Withstanding the potential for a shortcut across the neighbours land and along the railway, there are two points of access. From the road at the bottom of the valley, or winding up into the town.
- 10mins bike (30 walk) to the country club and supermarkets
- 20mins walk to station
- 30mins walk into town but quite steep! (>100m then lift)
Does not properly represent the slopes of the valley, nor levels of the floors. The main entrance from the road goes into both the 'ground' floor, and subground floor via ramps in both directions, one through the portico onto the bridge at the top, and another entrance at the bottom. You can get a better idea of the slope from Streetview or in the photos.
These are indicative prototypes and do not for example show all bathrooms and layouts. The floor levels are confusing. The so-called ground floor has a door to the lane at the back, but subground also does via two ramps, and is actually just above the stream with the bridge. Basement is next to the stream.
Condition and renovations
Due to the scale and cost, the works would be undertaken in phases, with the main common areas being delivered last, and thus some spaces in the modern building repurposed until then (e.g. the multipurpose space would function as the workspace). Cohousing could start to be delivered commencing with the first sale, however only once the phase 1 budget is fully pledged (there may be some flexibility per budget assignments), thus cohousing share purchases before then would have an open delivery with assignment of a studio in the modern building until complete.
The cohousing and workspace building requires its front wall on both stories to be reconstructed.
The modern factory and views both upstream towards the town, and downstream from the top floor.
The old warehouse and crossing the stream.
The old factory.
The terraced garden.
- modern factory for most of the rooms
- old factory for workspaces
- cohousing above the workspaces
- old warehouse for kitchen, dining and lounge
- any remaining units
All buildings need all their windows to be replaced, with over 100 needed this is the most significant expense. The most affordable option is obviously PVC, but to counter the bad life expectancy and environmental impact of these, I'm specifying single glazing (double for studios and workspaces) using commercial fittings with aluminium roller shutters and integrated mosquito net. This gives more versatile uses (such as leaving the window open with shutters partly down), with less impact and much longer lifespan so we don't have to worry about the cost of replacements in 20 years, but rather more.
The 1970s main building only needs some minor roof repairs as it has a modern steel truss structure, although as a result will need some extra insulation and strengthening (with new walls).
The older buildings across the stream need much more work, with the first for the living/kitchen requires demolishing the roof dormers and rebuilding that part of the roof, repairing the rest, removal of the attic floor, plus entirely rebuilding the first floor (a solid iron frame exists for this however). The long warehouse, requires half it's floor to be repaired and strengthened which is fairly simple, plus some roof repairs which may include some new timbers and strengthening (e.g. with support columns).
There is no parking on site nor the lane, as it will be reserved for our (two) shared minivans. Visitors thus need to park in town (best is near the railway, 15mins walk). Thus the property is not likely to have much function as a hub for locals. In any case there is already a small creative-focussed coworking in town. As an adjunct to the town for events it is however good being walking distance.
This property has an elevated cost due to its significant size. The first more modern building can be renovated, fitout and operational with around 25 units without any complex works. This however leaves two additional buildings. To complete these I am proposing the addition of cohousing, from which the sale of the units would thus enable the entire complex to be completed.
The forecast yield, would not be affected by this work, however it would be affected by the increased capacity and reduced rates, thus probably taking longer to deliver.
It's likely there will only be two seasonal rates, not three as indicated here, as a result the off-peak rates would be increased. Peak rates may still apply during festivals and events.
The sale price (likely around €35k) will include only plumbing and electric connection, door and windows (double-glazed with roller blinds) but no internal decoration, floor, mezzanine nor roof insulation. The floorspace is approximately 460cm by 950cm with two windows at the front and one door at the rear (no windows). It would be possible to install one skylight at the rear. The walls are ~400cm with roof apex ~600cm. Measurements are to be confirmed. Inter-studio walls will be deep (as they enclose the timber structure) with woodfibre insulation. If a second floor or mezzanine is desired this must be with an internally constructed frame supported in the front and back walls, and at the centre. Floor will be ply and suitable for parquet or tiling.
Everything is for the purchaser to specify, however the volunteers may be used for the works and a basic fitout package could be done from €5k. Bear in mind that if you want to rent it, you need to make it appeal and standout versus the other units.
The owner may engage a rental management contract with Hub House and the unit will then be listed with the others at their chosen price, however this may not be any lower than the studio price, and every booking will incur a fee (decided annually by the board). A monthly community maintenance fee shall also apply, however shall be lower than that for colivers. Else the owner may rent it themselves, however they must register their guests on the Hub House system, and inform them of the community contract. The owner and their guests will have use of the whole property. TODO: move to questions page
There will be limited dividends on cohousing shares (probably half the value of normal shares), however there's nothing stopping you holding multiple classes of share. The reason for this is that it is up to the owner to specify their space, and no offence but it might be awful, or you may simply leave it empty. Such activities would denigrate the collective offering and should not thus be rewarded. If you rent it, all booking revenue is yours, after your maintenance contribution, and if using Hub House to manage rentals, a corresponding fee.
- with adequate acquisition pledges asking price could probably be reduced as there are several aspects that make the property undesirable to anyone else
- 3D model shows the top floor clad in cork, this is however too expensive and would thus simply be covered with climbing plants and potentially bold streetart
- the ruins below the modern factory and under the railway bridge have been acquired by the railways company so we can surreptitiously help the nearest one fall down, also means there'll be no development in front