Stella LorenzoRecommended architect in Uruguay
Uruguay architect Stella Lorenzo is our property appraisal, renovations and rebuild go-to professional. We love her professionalism and how she’s saved us time and money over the years.
Buying, building or renovating a property is always risky. More so in a new country—especially when you don’t speak the language. Uruguay architect Stella will accompany you to a prospective property so that you can commit to the purchase feeling confident that there are no serious structural issues. Or hire her to put together, supervise or run a great team to renovate your residence.
This is a really personal tip. I have known architect Stella Lorenzo since my family moved to Uruguay in 2000. We have hired her four times—to advise us during the selection process of our first house, to carry out two major renovations on it and to completely revamp an apartment. We totally love her professionalism and the thoughtful way she works. And she has saved us money and lots of grey hair.
Shortly after we moved here, we were introduced to Stella by a colleague of mine. The colleague had hired Stella to build a beautiful beach house in Maldonado and was delighted with the experience. After my husband and I had narrowed down a few properties we really liked, we had Stella come appraise them for us. She reviewed them for structural issues, especially the ubiquitous problem here in Montevideo of damp. As we were new to Uruguay, she educated us regarding what to look for regarding whether a house was well-built or not. She was knowledgeable of neighbourhood factors that would affect our quality of life and house prices in the future. We felt very supported during our decision to buy.
So it felt natural to hire Stella to bring our recently purchased art-deco house into the twenty-first century. The house had been built in 1931 for and by an Italian gentleman and everything was original—>including the electrics and plumbing. As a typical casa chorizo (or sausage house)—or terraced house—it was quite dark inside. As well as updating the systems, we wanted to make the house more habitable for us as a family.
An Uruguay architect
Over a few days, Stell sat in different parts of the house and observed our use of the space. Then she tracked our movements—and where we spent most of our time—on plans which also included the movement of the sun. Her proposals included knocking down walls, creating an outdoor patio and fencing our upstairs terrace as a play area for our son. Thanks to prioritisation of natural light, the renovation left our house lighter and more spacious. Our 1930s kitchen was totally renovated while preserving all of the original fixtures. And the outdoor spaces she created are where almost two decades later we still spend most of our time when the weather permits.
As our son grew, we didn’t want to move but we did want more private space for ourselves, him and a place to receive guests. A second renovation several years later attacked our dark basement. Huge girders that supported the entire house made it impossible to walk from one end of the basement to the next without having to duck down constantly. Stella led engineers in replacing those girders with slimline ones. It was delicate surgery. The whole house could have collapsed! But we knew were were in excellent hands. In this new habitable basement she created a private living area for our then teenage son, a guestroom and a second bathroom. She effectively helped us double our living space.
The most recent time we hired Stella was for the complete gutting of an apartment in the Old City in 2016. The project was completed on schedule, came in under budget and we loved the result as did the new tenants.
What Stella can offer you
Property appraisal – real estate agents are not impartial and often have little idea of structural problems. Have Stella accompany you to a prospective property so that you can commit to the purchase feeling confident.
Residential renovations – this is the area in which she excels and absolutely loves to work
Design of a new residence
Supervision of the construction of a new property
Budgets – call on Stella to put together price comparisons for your renovation and manage the budget if you wish
What you should know
Her superpower is putting together and managing a good team Personal recommendation is essential to receiving good service from tradespeople in Uruguay. In fact you may have found a skilled trades-person but whether they will later be reliable or timely is another matter. Working with Stella as project manager means that she selects and manages the team. She is on top of them if work is not done or not done correctly. If you don’t speak Spanish I would say this is an essential investment both in terms of money and stress.
Stella is a great project and budget manager Each time we hired Stella not only as the architect but also as project manager. It was a worthwhile investment. On our apartment renovation, Stella managed the budget and actually saved us money. As she was being paid a percentage, this meant that she was paid less (yes. You read that correctly. She is a wonderful professional).
She is a quality control freak In 2003 her firm received ISO 9001:2000 certification in quality control. She wanted to obtain this as a way of setting up excellent work systems and processes for the organisation. I actually remember when she was going through this process during our first renovation and how stressful it was. It’s a testament to her professionalism.
Stella’s English is rusty I usually try to recommend service providers who speak great English. If fluent English communication is a deal breaker for you, then Stella is currently not going to be your choice. However the quality of her work, her contacts, her warmth and professionalism make her an excellent asset as you find or renovate your property.