Surveyors in Portugal

When purchasing a property in Portugal, there is a lot to know about what to do and what not to do and sometimes the information can be confusing. The question of whether or not to instruct a surveyor in Portugal is no exception!

Is it necessary to have a property survey in Portugal?

Having a survey in Portugal is not a legal requirement, however, it is recommended. If you would have a survey done on a similar property being purchased at home, then there is no reason not to have one carried out in Portugal.

There are also additional issues in Portugal that can have an effect on a property, such as the weather, the possibility that the property may have been left unoccupied for long periods of time and differing methods of construction.

In recent times buildings in Portugal have been constructed with a concrete frame to reduce the risk of collapse. However, this can cause problems such as cracking and damp that a potential buyer should look out for.

There are many examples of properties in Portugal that have been built poorly or with limited quality control during the construction process. In Portugal, the owner of a property is responsible for any illegal parts of the structure, even those completed by previous owners. Therefore, it may be cheaper in the long run to pay for a survey to be completed to gain peace of mind than risk potentially costly issues with the property in the future. A survey will allow you as a buyer to enter into the purchase with your ‘eyes wide open’ and mitigate the risk of an unwelcome and expensive surprise further down the line.

Traditionally, the Portuguese don’t tend to have a survey carried out on a property purchase and estate agents tend not to encourage purchasers to undertake one. However, The Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors say that their number of members in Portugal is increasing rapidly as it is becoming increasingly common for purchasers to have a survey carried out; especially as more and more foreign investors look to buy in Portugal.

The relatively low cost of a Portuguese property survey can potentially save a lot of headaches and expense in the long run, so it is advisable.

What are the advantages of having a property survey carried out in Portugal?

  • A survey can alert a property buyer if there are any structural defects to a property that cannot be seen by the untrained eye.
  • A surveyor in Portugal will know what property defects to look for and will understand the construction methods used in Portugal.
  • A survey can also flag up any maintenance issues, allowing you to factor this into your budget.
  • A survey could assist your lawyer in Portugal. Your Portuguese Lawyer will not normally visit the property and a survey can help to identify any errors in documents which may not be detected in the usual Portuguese searches.
  • It can be the case that properties in Portugal have had work carried out, for example an extension built or a swimming pool added, without the necessary planning permissions.  A survey can highlight these issues so that they can be sorted before you purchase.
  • A surveyor can provide reassurance that a problem you assumed is major is nothing more than a minor defect. It can also put your mind at ease and bring to your attention any potential problems that could cause worry or expense at a later date.

What are the risks of not obtaining a survey on a Portuguese property?

Developments in Portugal have been built to varying degrees of quality. Although many are of a very high standard, there has also been some very sub-standard building and it can be very hard to tell the difference between the two. A qualified property surveyor can assist by inspecting the property and advising you of any defaults that you should be aware of.

Some commons problems found by surveyors in Portugal are:

  • Structural defects
  • Damp
  • Unauthorised alterations or missing building permissions
  • Inadequate or illegal utility connections such as electricity, water and drainage
  • Termites

As a buyer, you are responsible for ensuring that you are entirely satisfied with the property before you purchase. If you don’t take professional advice and after purchasing you find that there are problems, you may find that the cost of a property survey would have been money well spent.

What services can surveyors in Portugal provide?

A surveyor will be able to advise on which option would best suit your requirements. Although surveyors in Portugal generally offer the following options:

A general condition report

This is the most common type of survey. It includes details of the general condition of the property, explaining the basic state of services and a visible inspection to all accessible areas (both inside and outside).

Full building survey

This report is a lot more detailed than the general condition report and is particularly beneficial where the property is very old, of unusual structure or in a poor state.

A survey can be tailored to the client’s requirements and may include any specific concerns raised by the client.

Other types of report include valuation reports and snagging reports for new build properties as well as the option of an informal verbal report.

How much does a property survey in Portugal cost?

The cost of a property survey in Portugal can vary depending on the type of report required but can be anywhere between €400-€1000 depending on the type of report required, the location of the property and its value.

When should you instruct a Surveyor in Portugal?

It you intend to have a survey carried out, it is advisable to have the survey undertaken before you make an offer or pay a deposit, unless the deposit is fully refundable in the event that a survey picks up any problems with the property. This clause is not standard, however your Portuguese Lawyer may be able to add this clause in to the initial contract (Contrato de Promessa de Compra e Venda) if accepted by the vendor.

If you have any concerns about the property, then we recommend that you have a survey carried out before making an offer.

For details of a recommended surveyor in Portugal, contact Total Buying Abroad on 01244 478911. If you would like any more information, download our free guide to Buying Property in Portugal.