Rules and Regulations Buying Land & Plots in the Algarve
We should make it clear that we can not guarantee the following advice. The Portuguese regulations can be changed without notice.
Every county and region in Portugal has their own interpretation of the building legislation, and the national laws only apply to building in certain protected zones for example nature reserves and protected areas.
Within the broad legislative structure are a spider web of zoning plans, regulations, restrictions and special requirements.
The interpretation of the application of building rules in Portugal is very extensive meaning each building project will have its own individual rules.
Hence our advice would always be – if in doubt seek professional advice. It is far cheaper to apply for a permit than it is to pull down illegal building works.
Basic Requirement for Buildings in Portugal
The basic requirement for developing a property is always regulated by what appears in the registration document in the land registry.
A Portuguese property can always be constructed or extended to the total registered base area. This minimum right is guaranteed constitutionally.
In most cases, you can assume that every existing building can be extended beyond the currently registered area with an application for planning permission. This is of course unless the building is located within a protected zone.
What if there is No Building?
Where building plots are concerned for example when there is no building registered in the land registry.
In this case, you need to secure the building rights through a construction request (informação prévia vinculativa). This is valid for one year and can be extended.
Most building plots for sale will already have this in place. Some will also have a project already approved.
Plans can always be amended and reapplied if the project is not exactly to your liking. The main advantage is knowing the plot can be built upon without any worries.
Applying for Planning Permission in Portugal
Actual planning permission application consists of architectural drawings and the attached plans such as the acoustics, thermal projections, electrical installations, telephone installations and landscaping plans.
Costs for submitted plans start from around €2000 per application.
To avoid unnecessary planning costs it is best to ensure that the buildings are registered up to the maximum area of the intended construction.
Renovating Existing Ruins & Old Buildings
If the existing buildings, including when buying ruins in the Algarve, are within the correct classification and benefit from the relevant Allocation, most renovations can be carried out without planning.
If you use traditional materials and methods and don’t change the current layout, you can rebuild existing ruins without applying for building permission.
The land zone plan in Portugal is revised every 15 years. This is where permission is granted to areas that are not currently designated for a residential building but are not included in the nature reserve zones or lake shore protected areas.
Regarding the materials of construction that can be used, except within historic city centres, almost anything is acceptable.
What About Mobile Homes on Land Without Buildings?
For all habitations without foundations such as caravans, containers, tents & teepees, and mobile homes, no permission is needed as long as they can be seen to be moveable, within a 24-hour period, and are not being used as permanent residence.
How this law is interpreted is under question. It would seem that if no one complains no one bothers.
To Conclude Our Advice is Quite Clear
However as previously stated it is always advisable to get professional advice.
If our advice doesn’t put you off doing so read the story about two British residents on the Algarve Island of Armona. Along with the residents of 140 homes were threatened with demolition orders. Thankfully after over 5 years of stress and heartache, their problem has now been resolved in their favour.
Seeking advice is always the best option when buying plots or land in the Algarve, here at Gatehouse International we are able to guide you in the correct direction in a process that is full of potential pitfalls.