What you need to know about building in Portugal and what to look out for

Building in Portugal 

Building a dream home in Portugal is a dream shared by many. 300 days of sunshine, friendly people, safety and an all over great way of life are among the things attracting people to Portugal. 

If you have ever visited Portugal you are sure to have come across many ruins and townhouses that have more or les bin left for dead. There are many reasons for this, but one of the main once is the inheritance laws in the country.

When a person dies in Portugal the property will go to the next of kind, as it does in many other countrys in Europe, but in Portugal it is a bit more complicated. If a person dies and his property is to be left to lets say his 3 brothers, but two of the brothers have already passed them self. The inheritance should by law go to the 2 brothers relativs. 

With a old population this opens a wortex of problems where one can end up with dusins of distant relativs that all have the right to their part of the inheritance. 

It is not unnkommende that a house or property can have as many as 10-30 people all entitled to part of the sales value. Taking in to account the cost and tax involved in selling, many simply let the property rot.

Another key factor is that every single person must agree on the sale and if they are only looking at removing a few thousand euro, many simply cant be bothered as ever single person has to sign the sales papers in person. 

So be properad. If you find a ruin it could take years and cost thousands before you can finally close the deal.

How to pick the right builder in Portugal

How to find land to build on in Portugal 

Naturally most of us dont have years to spend looking for land to build on, so insted of looking for ruins on your own, it is much better to leave it up to the professionals. Get in touch with local estate agents that know the area and explain what it is you are looking for. 

It might take som time to find your dream plot, but it is sure to be a lot faster then doing it yourself. 

Once the estate agent has found you a plot you like you must make sure that all the paperwork is in order and make sure you are allowed to build a house om the plot. 

You would think the estate agent would make sure of this, but that is not always the case in Portugal. Estate agents must be licensed, yes, but the do not carry the same amount of responsibility's that they do in most other countrys. 

Now most estate agents in Portugal are very professional and honest people, but we always recommend that you higer a solicitor to help you with the legale stuff. There are many pitfalls and each one can end up costing you thousands. 

You have the plot. Now what? 

Depending on how much you are able and willing to pay for land, you will either and up paying for a plot with a ready to go building permission (this is the expensive option) or you buy a plot of land and then apply to the local camera for building permission (this is the cheaper option).

Before you decide witch rout to go down you should consider the fact that getting building permission could be a long, log road to go down. If you choose this solution you should make sure to work with a respected architect that has good connections at the local camera. 

We are not saying the system is corrupt, but in Portugal as many other countrys it often comes down to who you known and not what you know. 

You have the plot, you have building permission. Now what? 

After securing a plot and building permission, it is time to start looking for a builder to build your house. In Portugal this will normally be an easy job, but as in other countrys the construction industry in Portugal has its part of cowboys. 

How to choose the right builder or tradesman in Portugal

Finding qualified builders and tradesmen in Portugal is easy with the help of your builder, but how do you choose the right company for your project?

Just as in the UK, Germany, Norway, Italy and other European countrys, there is unfortunately no lack of "cowboy" builders in portugal either. That being said, there is no lack of trusty professionals neither.

You just have to know how to separate them from the cowboys.

In this article we have gathered some easy to follow tips that will help you find the best builders and tradesmen for your project.

Things to do when evaluating builders and tradesmen:

  • Ask the builder/tradesman how long they have been trading and what experience they have with the kind of work work you need completing
  • Ask if they are members of any trade associations, and check with the association if they say yes
  • get references - contact the people they provided as references and find out how happy they were with the quality of the workmanship, price and communication doring the build
  • Have a look at social media and poste questions in expat groups to learn from other expats experience
  • Ask if they give any guarantee on their work?
  • Check public records to make sure the company is registered and qualified to trade
  • Get written confirmation that planning permission is not required
  • Check that the company/tradesmen is insured. They should have cover to protect themselves against property damage and personal and public liability to protect you and the general public in the event of an accident or injury

Things to do before signing the contract:

  • Avoid iva-free deals  you will not have any valid contract if there is no proof of payment
  • Put details of the job in writing. The more detailed the better.
  • Your contract should outline what work is to be done, start and completion dates, the cost of the work and materials, payment plans, catering and lavatory arrangements, work hours and days, cleaning and disposal of waste materials
  • Agree terms of payment in writing
  • Avoid paying upfront or a cash deposit. Only time you should consider paying upfront is if they deliver materials to the worksite so that you have control of the materials
  • If you are building a new home from scratch, make sure the the company is in a finical state to complete the build

Things to do after the job is completed:

  • Make sure the job is done to your satisfaction and that clean up is completed according to the contract, before making the final payment.
  • It is always wise that the contract stats that the last payment should be at least 10-20% of the total quote.
  • Final payment is your best insurance in case of disagreement
  • In case of disagreements, make sure you put it all in writing either via registered post and or email
  • Recommend the builder/tradesmen on Yellow-pages.pt to help other clients in the feature