Why you need a RICS Building Surveyor in Portugal


Why you need a RICS Building Surveyor in Portugal

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  • By KipperTree
  • December 15 2023

Why you need a RICS Building Surveyor in Portugal

Before buying any property or piece of land in Portugal it is strongly recommended to have a building survey undertaken by a RICS-qualified Building Surveyor who fully understands the Portuguese market in terms of construction, quality, and legislation.

Many properties built in the 1970s and 1980s are sub-standard and were built with inferior materials, and even relatively new buildings can have serious faults. It’s important to check who the developer or builder was, as a major company with a good reputation is unlikely to have cut corners. A property over five years old is not covered by a builder’s warranty for defects to the building structure and waterproofing, although warranties are transferable if a property is sold during the warranty period.

If you’re buying a detached villa, farmhouse, or village house, it’s always recommended to have a survey carried out. Common problems include rusting water pipes and leaky plumbing; inadequate sewage disposal; poor wiring; humidity and rising damp as damp courses are rarely installed in properties in Portugal; uneven flooring or no concrete base; subsidence; and cracked internal and external walls. Some of these problems are even evident in properties less than five years old.

You could ask the vendor to have a survey done at his expense, which, provided it gives the property a clean bill of health, will help him sell it even if you decide not to buy. You can make a satisfactory survey a condition of a contract. If a vendor refuses to allow you to have a survey performed before signing a contract, you should look elsewhere. It is also very important to request the building surveyor to check and report on all the following items:

The existence of a valid user license to live in the property (Licença de utilizaçao). Properties built before 1951 are not legally obliged to have a user license. This license will also show the area of construction legally built as some owners undertake illegal construction to have additional areas to use and do not advise the local authority. The planning regulations for the local authority (PDM) in which the property or land is located to check if there are any restrictions on construction such as ecological reserve (REN) agricultural reserve (RAN), nature reserve, or protected woodlands or any other restrictions given in the local planning regulations.

Property location plan (Planta Cadastral) which shows the legal limits of the property that must be checked during the survey. In addition, if there are any doubts about the size of the plot, the surveyor will recommend a topographical survey to determine the exact area of the plot in m2.

Property registration certificate (Caderneta Predial). This shows the current legal owner(s) of the property. If the surveyor has any doubts, he will advise the potential purchaser to have this verified by their lawyers.

Tax Certificate (Certidao de teor). This gives the taxable value of the property for IMI, which is the property tax in Portugal.

Insurance Policy (Seguro de Propriedade). Many property owners in Portugal do not have property or contents insurance. This is essential as the country is in a seismic region, particularly properties located from the Lisbon area down to the Algarve.

The last three bills of the following services: Electricity, Gas, Water and drainage.

Many rural properties do not have a mains water connection and rely on wells for water. The license for these wells needs to be provided by the property owner as all wells are legally required to have a license (Licença de Extraçao) from the Portuguese Environmental Agency (APA)

Regarding fees for building surveys.

Expect to pay:

For a homebuyer’s survey and reinstatement costs for Insurance purposes €550 - 1000 excluding VAT.

For a full structural survey €800 - 1500 excluding VAT.