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Building & Renovating
Building & Renovating

Building or Renovating Your Property

When it comes to real estate in Portugal, the prospective buyer has many different options to choose from. Not only is there a wide selection of small apartments and large villas, a person will also be able to choose whether he or she would like a newly built home, an older home that needs renovations, or to buy a plot of land and build a home themselves. Although until now, purchasing a newly built home has been the preferred type of real estate transaction in Portugal, especially by English transplants, renovating or building from scratch have both recently increased in popularity.

Building a house from the ground up on your own plot of land in Portugal has many advantages. These include being able to design the home’s layout according to your own personal preferences, having the opportunity to select all the finishes and accessories, and being able to inspect and supervise the work being performed every step of the way. Projects like these will also allow a buyer to live in a more rural, authentically Portuguese environment, as the newly built homes are generally in densely populated tourist locations. A truly custom built home is a luxury that many can only dream of, and purchasing a piece of property in Portugal will allow a person to do just that.

As with most things, taking on the task of building one’s own home in Portugal also has its disadvantages. Most notably, adhering to any sort of time schedule will be a very big challenge. The reasons for this are many and include bureaucratic delays as well as the accepted regional methods of working on and completing a construction project. When embarking on a building project, the homeowner must first obtain approval for their home from the Camara Municipal, more commonly referred to as the Council. Once the authorities have discussed the project and decide to grant a license, which can itself take several months, the builders you have chosen to work on the project must each present their licenses and proof of insurance. After the outlined work on the building has been complete, the council will send a representative to conduct a site inspection to confirm that the work that has been performed matches what was originally set forth in the proposal.

In addition to these municipal delays, the expectations for construction workers and building professionals are different in Portugal than a person from another country might be accustomed to. Trying to determine when exactly they will begin and end work each day is nearly impossible, as is establishing a certain amount of time allocated to lunch in the afternoon. And although the work will be thorough and the men will be honest, there will be some days when they don’t even come to the job site at all. Unfortunately, this is the norm in that particular industry, so the property owner who attempts to be a little aggressive about his or her expectations regarding the timing and amount of work performed will be deemed unreasonable and may then have a difficult time securing any capable construction professionals to complete the job.

If the prospect of building from scratch and not being able to live on one’s own property for months, or sometimes even years, is not an appealing one, a buyer may choose instead to purchase an older, historic home and renovate it according to their needs. Again, any major changes or upgrades to a structure will need the approval of the council, but in the case of a remodel, many of the concerns that the council is faced with when approving a new build are obsolete. Therefore, a remodel can generally commence in a much speedier fashion than a full build from the ground up. Older properties also will have more of an authentic Portuguese character than those newly built by a professional development company, and this charm has definite appeal to a certain segment of the buyer population.

Before embarking upon a renovation journey, one should consider whether the costs to improve the property will exceed the value of the property itself to determine if the particular house is a sound investment. Items to inspect include the roof, the window frames, the electric and plumbing systems, heating elements (if there are any!), flooring, home insulation, and drainage around the house. Any one of these items might be reparable, but if none of them is in usable condition, the renovation will probably cost considerably more to complete than first anticipated. In addition, doing a remodel versus a custom build usually means that the homeowner is residing in the house during the renovation process. If this will be the case for your family, ensuring that there are adequate facilities in order to at least survive during the process is absolutely mandatory.

Whether a person chooses to build or renovate, there are a certain number of professionals and craftsmen that will be required to complete the job to its full potential. The homeowner should be prepared to hire a builder, architect, bricklayer, plumber, electrician, foreman, engineer, painter, carpenter, and several laborers. While there are professionals in these fields from many different countries, rural areas will yield mostly individuals who are native to Portugal. The ability to adhere to a time schedule will undoubtedly be a frustration, but if these craftsmen come highly recommended, at least the homeowner can be assured that the work will be done well and with integrity.

A home in Portugal is an excellent investment for any buyer at this point in time. With a robust economy, beautiful scenery, and relatively affordable real estate, Portugal is a great choice for urban and rural dwellers alike. If a buyer is keen on putting their own personal stamp on their home, is not afraid of extended timelines, and is excited about the prospect of designing and decorating their house with their own two hands, renovating a historic property or building a brand new home on their own plot of land can be an exciting and rewarding experience.

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