Most often asked questions

  Most often asked questions?

I was chatting to Kelvin the Managing Director of a Portuguese construction company recently and he told me that

The most often asked questions his company received was about  “Building permission and planning processes”

His company blog – also makes a count of pages visited and this data also reflects his personal client experience with the most often asked questions being about building permission and planning processes.

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Home building Building permission and planning processes



Obviously there is a large gap in peoples understanding when coming to a new country and there is often a temptation to cut the learning curve or

“do it like we did in the UK” or even worse ignore completely the Portuguese process. Which you do at your peril.



Many expat forums but NOT THIS ONE are actively used by people who have just landed here and are very excited to get moving on their project and dont mind cutting a few corners.

They will eagerly ask questions about planning permission or building regulations from random people who often tell them to just do it or “we did it and it was OK. So far!

When I was involved in construction we often came across people who either went a head and built as they wanted or who were told by a local builder (verbally) that it would be OK!

 Of course it wasn’t OK and the cost to put it right, cost of delays, cost of additional rental accommodation and fines always falls in the lap of the home owner.

Some unfortunately had to abandon their life in Portugal and go back home to earn the money to rectify the problems.

The local, helpful builder of course is not impacted at all even if he was a quick flit to France for a couple of months work would let events settle down.


My advice is to everyone is if you don’t speak good Portuguese pay a teacher or someone who speaks good English to go with you to your local planning department (you can make an appointment)

Armed with a list of questions and a pen so that you can write the answers down. You can also ask for a written response which will cost you around 35 Euros and take about a month to get to you.

Officials hate writing definite decisions and you may think the reply is a little more woolly than was said during the meeting. You will be armed with a record of what you can do and is a great place to start.


Don’t bring house plans which are drawn up in another country to Portugal.

They won’t save you any money and will usually cost more to change to Portuguese or be re drawn.

Time – Everything in Portugal takes time. More time than you would think possible. So allow plenty of time for every aspect of the planning and design process.

Don’t take risks by changing or growing what you are building without permission. This could come back to haunt you when you try and sell your property in the future.

The painful truth is that Perfect planning does indeed prevent poor performance so don’t just jump in to your Portuguese projects make sure you have a sound approved plan and follow it.