Rules and Regulations
We can not guarantee the following information. The regulations can change without notice.
In Portugal each county (concelho) has their own building legislation and national law applies to the development of certain protected zones such as nature reserves, protected areas like lake shores etc. Within this broad legislative structure there is an abundance of regulations, restrictions, special requirements and zoning plans. In Portugal the interpretation of the application of building rules is very broad. "Cada casa é um caso" (each house is a different case) which means each building project has its individual rules.
The basic requirement for developing a property is always the registration in the land registry. A building can always be constructed or extended to the total registered base area. This minimum right is guaranteed constitutionally (Direitos adquiridos). Generally, you can assume that almost every building can be extended beyond the main registered area with planning permission unless the property is located in a protected zone.
Where building plots are concerned there is no building to register in the land registry. In this case we secure the building rights through a binding construction request (informação prévia vinculativa). This is valid for one year and can be extended.
Actual planning permission consists of the architectural drawings and the various dependent plans such as acoustics, thermal, electric, telephone, landscaping. Costs for submitted plans: from € 2000.- (2016). To avoid unnecessary planning costs it is best to ensure that the buildings are registered up to the maximum area. If the existing buildings (even ruins) are fortunate in their classification (i.e. have the relevant Afetação), most “renovations” can be done without planning. If you use traditional materials and don’t change the layout, you can even rebuild complete ruins without building permission.
A key element for development opportunities is also the land zone plan, which is revised about every 15 years. The most restrictive are the nature reserve zones (REN) and lake shore protected areas.
With regard to construction materials, you can enjoy (except within historic city centres) almost unfettered freedom. Whether you use straw bales, timber, or stone, there are very few limitations. For all habitations without foundations such as containers, teepees, yurts, caravans, mobile homes, no permission is needed as long as they can be seen to be moveable and are not in permanent occupation.
Building material / construction costs
There are many local builders merchants, and the service is excellent. All material is delivered with little charge, even to remote places. Besides the local stores, we have also the B&Q type chains such as Bricomarché, AKI, IZI, Leroy Merlin etc., who have their stores in bigger cities like Pombal, Leiria, Coimbra and Castelo Branco.
As construction costs go, Portugal's are very cheap, due to being the country with the lowest salaries in the EU. Expect to spend about 500-700 Euros/m2 (2016) for a new build of European standard, for renovations figure about 200-400 Euros/m2.
If electricity is not already at the property you can pay to have it installed. As a rough guide, the costs are about €1000 per 100m of cable. If the property is located more than 600m from a transformer it will be more expensive and the EDP will need to give you a quote.
Telephone and Internet have good coverage. Internet quality is continually improving. Fiberoptic is currently being installed in this area.