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New House Build - help with planning permission

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Posts: 9
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Topic starter
(@newstartinportugal)
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Joined: 6 months ago

Hi, We bought land in Central Portugal (part rustic part urban) and intend to build a new house (nothing fancy, 200 m2 max, single storey, flat roof). We have a design in mind (and a set of floor plans) but need someone to complete Engineering Drawings (incl sewage, electrics, drainage etc) and help us obtain a licence to build.

Any recommendations? How much should we budget for this? Anybody here with fairly recent experience? Many thanks for any help.

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Posts: 108
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(@cojabound)
Estimable Member
Joined: 5 years ago

Hi Joanna, we're nearing the end of a build. It's a complex process! First off all check with your local camara that you can actually build. Is there an existing ruin? This is usualy essential in order to build. We had a ruin and although we knocked it down and built new, we had to apply for a rebuild after we were turned down for a new build project. You have to get the house signed off by a licenced engineer or builder in order for it to be legal. And you must comply with strict regs regarding many aspects such as water supply, septic tank, earthquake and fire resistance, accoustics, etc. So you'll need to find someone to work with you, I have no idea if there's a standard fee for this, I knew someone who paid 125 euros per month to a really helpful engineer. I think it's rarely done but is possible. We have ended up paying an architect and building company to do ours after a failed attempt to try and sort out a self build. And 4 years of frustration! The architect was essential in working with the council and getting us permission, if you afford it, I would say after the camara, an architect is the next vital step. Some camaras are more helpful than others and the regs vary between them. Good luck.

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Premium Member
(@newstartinportugal)
Joined: 6 months ago

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Posts: 9

Hi @cojabound, Thanks for your helpful tips. I initially went the architect route, but would have to sell my kidney to pay their fees. I got quotes ranging from 12000 to as much as 25000 Euro plus VAT for getting the design, the engineering drawings and to complete the application for the licence to build. And this is on a small, single-story house with a flat roof (170m2). SO I bought a piece of software called RoomSketcher and did the design myself. The Software is not very sophisticated but it has a 3D walk through option that allows you to visualise what your house is going to look like. 

I can find a CAD technician to do the drawings according to my initial design, but the next step is a bit more tricky - I need a Structural Engineer who can check the drawings, make sure that they follow Portuguese Regulations and who can help me navigate through the licencing process. I would willing to pay the architect or a structural engineer a decent fee fee to go over the design and make sure that it is going to work, but where do I find someone who would be willing to do that at a reasonable price, 4 figures rather than 5? So any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. 

 

Kind regards,

Joanna

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Premium Member
(@newstartinportugal)
Joined: 6 months ago

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Posts: 9

I just wanted to add this - don't get me wrong. I think in most cases Architect fees are justified. Understanding the client's needs and wants, understanding the piece of land, and then designing a perfect house can take ages. There are a lot of moving parts and it is a big investment that should not be taken lightly, but in my case, I will be building a prefab house made with SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels), so the bulk of the house structure and thermal insulation will be taken care of.  I simply don't understand how anyone can quote €25000 plus VAT for getting the plans and the planning approval on a 160 m2 simple, rectangular house, especially if I already have the layout worked out. Is there something that I am missing?

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Posts: 11
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(@comfortapaul)
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Joined: 7 months ago

Hi Joanna, which area of central Portugal are you in?

We know a good structural engineer who speaks good english, has all the building contacts locally and who was a great help with the Câmara. We renovated an old xisto building.

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Premium Member
(@newstartinportugal)
Joined: 6 months ago

Active Member
Posts: 9

@comfortapaul Hi Paul, Thank you for a quick response. I did the unthinkable - I bought a piece of land with no ruin and no planning...The house will be built near Serta, Castelo Branco. I would be very grateful if you could help.

Best regards, Joanna

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Community Member
(@comfortapaul)
Joined: 7 months ago

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Posts: 11

hi Joanna, we've just sent you a private message with contact details as our structural engineer lives not far from Serta.

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Posts: 65
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(@tygger)
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Joined: 3 years ago

We are just waiting for Silves Camara to grant us permission for our house, our fees for the architect and engineering design is circa 25,000 euro, which is more than we have paid for our UK projects, but I would say that it's the only way, if you want a (relatively) stress free experience. The Portuguese architects are necessary for monitoring the standard of build, we find our guy to be better than the UK architects, he is based in Lisbon, so let me know if you need his contact details.

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Posts: 9
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Topic starter
(@newstartinportugal)
Active Member
Joined: 6 months ago

@tygger Thank you for your comment. You are probably right regarding the importance of architectural monitoring during the build but we were quoted over €30 000 Euro incl VAT and it did not include any monitoring, just a set of plans and assistance with the licencing process. I suppose every project is different. If you have a €300 000 budget, then €30 000 architectural fees although steep, are still acceptable, but if you have a €120 000 budget and you are going to monitor the quality of the build yourself (my husband used to be a builder), you cannot spend 25% of your budget on the design and planning approval. As I said everybody's situation is different. 

I was just wondering if there are any alternatives to going an expensive route and hiring an architect or is it possible to find an architect who can offer a partial service for a reasonable fee...   By the way, are you waiting for the outline planning permission (the first stage) or the actual licence to build? How long have you been waiting for a response?

Kind regards,

Joanna

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Premium Member
(@tygger)
Joined: 3 years ago

Trusted Member
Posts: 65

@newstartinportugal Hi Joanna, we have the outline permission, we're now waiting for the architects detailed plans to be approved, we are going to have the construction supervised by an architect as we don't speak much Portuguese and although I have built 5 homes for ourselves in the UK, I don't fancy doing that in Portugal, but you may be able to work with the builder and do some 2nd fix work yourselves.

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