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Converting agricultural buildings to habitable
A lot of quintas come with building described as agricultural support, is it straightforward to convert use? I guess the simple answer will be "ask the câmara municipal" but I wonder if anyone has done this and what the process was like. Is there the equivalent of permitted development? I'm particularly interested in the Castelo Branco region.
Thanks in advance/Obrigado
Firstly, you should seek professional advice independent of the seller or agent, to verify the status of the property, in terms of the land and its buildings. It would be best to do this before approaching the câmara municipal, to ensure the latter do not get the wrong impression of what you intend to do, making your life harder.
What follows is a broad-brush picture as a starting point.
Land can be "urbano" or "rústico" - and a property can be made up of a combination of the two.
Then, buildings can be classified as "habitação" or various other categories which are not legally residential.
These types/categories can, in theory, be changed - but in practice, this can be lengthy process (years, rather than months, in many cases). It would involve legal and other professionals, working with the relevant authorities.
This classification issue needs to be bottomed out/resolved before moving on to what may be required in terms of works.
Then, "permitted development" - here, there are categories of intervention which only require "comunicação prévia" - this means you notify the câmara municipal, fulfilling the requirements relevant to the category in question. The categories of intervention available via this route are different to, and narrower than, those in the UK, for instance.
You may wish to consider submitting a "pedido de informação", in which you present an idea for a project (somewhat like an outline plan) to the local authority for their consideration, in terms of the principles of what you propose. A decision they take on that is binding for a time, however it does not of itself constitute planning permission.
You will find contractors (and sometimes estate agents etc), who will happily tell you that you can do anything, or that all sorts of things are possible without any kind of project. This is, unfortunately, rarely true, and you may lose more time or money in embargoes or fines than getting things lined up in advance. A building not legally classified as habitation will not legally count as a residence, meaning utilities will not be connected directly, nor will post be delivered. Even a building which is classified as a habitation, but which has been the subject of non-permitted works, may never get certain licenses/certifications (for example, those needed for short-term rental or other business/tourism purposes), and it may be hard/impossible to rent out or re-sell.
We come across people who have, on the sly, converted an agricultural building to be a weekend getaway. Fine, they might succeed - but when they come to sell, it'll still legally be an agricultural building, with illegal elements many buyers may not wish to take on.
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I am not an expert on this issue but usually those buildings are not able to receive a «Licença de habitação» (Housing licence) which is something you need to have in a place you would like to live in.
Those buildings are usually just to keep agricultural tools, small vehicles, tools, etc.
Some of them maybe can be converted but it may be a long and hard process, as well as expensive. And it will all depend on the type of property thay are in, conrding to the PDM - Plano Diretor Municipal - of that area.
Thats why those plots and «quintas» are less expensive than the ones that have at least an old ruin.
But the best is «ask the câmara». Sorry to say, but it is the best option 🙂
And also make sure you ask the PDM (Plano Diretor Municipal) where you can see all that is allowed to build or not in a specific area, also you can see there if there are roads pllaned for the area, industrial buildings, etc .
Hope this helps,