Insights into what is involved in buying, selling & living in Portugal

When you have decided that you want to have your own house built, and after having selected the right plot of land or farm house to build it on, you will need an architect to make your dream come through. This in fact is a very important decision, as a working relation with an architect is something like a love affair; it has to click. You both have to work out and create the house of your dreams.

Choose a professional architect on the basis of examples of his previous work or on the recommendation of others who have used him. Make sure that you choose an architect who can communicate with you directly in a language you understand as it is the smallest of details that matter. Request a detailed quotation for all the sketches, calculations, finished plans and supervisory work you will require from the architect from start to finish.

Architect charge a professional fee and are supposed to provide a similar job. Like in many other countries their maximum fees are fixed by their organisation or by law. In Portugal their activities are ruled by Law Decrees publiced on 07.02.72 and 27.01.86. They make a distinction in 4 different type of building

  1. Small warehouses
  2. Vilas
  3. Bigger premises like school, hotels etc.
  4. Big building works like bridges etc.

As you will understand most of the time you will fall in Category II. Fees are normally on a gliding scale with the percentage going down as the total building estimate increases. It starts for example at 9,49% for small jobs worth €17.500 and will go down in percentage to 3,76% if the figure reaches € 500.000. For € 250.000 it will be 6,23%

All in all designing a house, having it submitted and having it approved may take longer than you anticipate or expect. Also when you are not here in the country see that you have good contact with and access to your architect or in many cases you most likely will use a project manager. If you have E-mail yourself it would be an advantage to choose an architect who has the same facility. This way it speeds up communication when you are abroad.

The procedure is normally as follows:

  1. Land has been chosen
  2. Selecting the right architect
  3. Maybe a topographical survey is necessary before the architect starts designing
  4. Architect makes sketch
  5. This will be discussed with the client, adjusted and sent to you again for approval
  6. Final design has been agreed upon
  7. Architect starts drawing up final plans to submit to local town hall
  8. Approval takes between 2 - 3 months (sometimes a bit longer sometimes a bit shorter),by law the ‘Camara’ has to answer within 60 working days.

Recently new legislation came into effect which will now speed up the above-mentioned procedure in certain cases. It applies to plots located in urbanizations (loteamento). Under this new ruling all plans can be submitted at the same time and the local time council now should approve them an license them within 21 (working) days. This of course is a great gain in time, although theory and practise may differ.

  1. Client or architect is notified of approval
  2. Within 6 months the architect has to submit what are called the " projectos de especialidades (specialised projects), like iron calculation, projects for drainage, water, electricity, thermo insulation etc.
  3. Again submission of these projects follows
  4. This could take again 2 -3 months
  5. Client again is notified and will get 1 year from day of notification to take out the building license.
  6. This license is normally valid for 1 year but one could apply for a lesser or longer period and the license can be normally extended only 1 time.
  7. Only then can the physical building start.
  8. If during the building process major alterations are integrated alteration plans

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