Build Progress

Red Tape & No Return

One of the things that Portugal is famous for is its bureaucracy and red tape!

And that is certainly true when it comes to restoring a ruin.

Everything has a form, and sometimes I am convinced that I have just filled in a form to request a form that needs to be filled in before they can issue the form I want!!!

Then, you hand the form in, only to be told two weeks later that the form has a mistake on it and you need to do it again.

Then, when you hand in the corrected form, you are told that the form is now out of date and you need to fill in a different form.

Eventually, you get everything right, drive off to the Camara (local council) full of hope, and proudly walk up to the door, only to discover it is closed for a local holiday to celebrate the festival of Santa Burocracia.

This web of regulations, which seems also to be subject to individual interpretation by the various clerks, has presented me with huge challenges, particularly as my Portugues is next to non-existent.

Now to be fair to our Camera, they have been very patient with my lack of Portuguese and as helpful as they can… but still, it’s a LOT of red tape.

I do have a secret weapon (well two actually) Vanda and Elsa are Portuguese friends who have just completed their own build. They are helping in so many different ways, they act as my mouthpiece, advise on the process, and keep up on track.

So here I am now, faced with a January 17th deadline to get my last (for now) lot of documents into the council.

The list includes

  • Declaration of ownership of a certification of classification as a civil construction industrialist or registration title
  • Term of responsibility of the construction manager
  • Proof of valid civil liability insurance
  • Proof of contracting, through labour relations or service provision, by the company responsible for the execution of the work
  • Safety and Health Plan.
  • Insurance policy covering liability for the repair of damages arising from work accidents,
  • Declaration of adjudication of the Work;
  • Copy of the instructional elements in digital format
  • Declaration subscribed by the author or coordinator of the project in accordance with Annex VI of number 18 of article 14 of the RMUE.

And at the point I hand these in I pass the point of no return. I am committed to completing the project and paying the builder.

The first 10,000 € is Due in January, and thankfully that is sat in the bank ready to go.



PS For anyone interested, in rebuilding a residential ruin in Portugal and obtaining planning permission, you typically need to submit a set of legal and technical documents to the local council.

The exact requirements can vary by municipality, but a general checklist might include:

  • Formulário de Candidatura:

Formal Application Form: Provided by the local council, this form officially starts the planning permission process.

  • Escritura de Propriedade:

Property Deeds: Proves ownership of the land and the ruin.

  • Certidão do Registo Predial:

Land Registry Certificate:  Shows the current state of the property in the official land registry.

  • Caderneta Predial

Tax Document: A fiscal document that describes the property and its tax status.

  • Planos Arquitetónicos:

Architectural Plans: Detailed drawings of the proposed construction, (I had to supply three paper copies and also a copy of everything in a digital format).

  • Planos de Engenharia:

Engineering Plans: Includes structural, electrical, and plumbing plans, showcasing compliance with local building codes.

  • Levantamento Topográfico:

Topographical Survey: Illustrates the property’s terrain and its features, necessary for planning the rebuild.

  • Relatório de Eficiência Energética:

Energy Efficiency Report: A study that indicates how the building will comply with energy efficiency regulations.

  • Avaliação de Impacto Ambiental:

Environmental Impact Assessment (if required): For larger projects or those in environmentally sensitive areas, this assessment might be needed.

  • Termo de Responsabilidade

Technical Responsibility Term: Signed by the architect and/or engineer, taking responsibility for the project’s compliance with regulations.

  • Plano de Gestão de Resíduos (para resíduos de construção e demolição):

Waste Management Plan (for construction and demolition waste): Details how waste will be managed during the construction process.

  • Fotografias da Ruína Existente:

Photographs of the Existing Ruin: Provides a visual record of the property’s current state.

Others you may need

  • Avaliação de Impacto Patrimonial:

Heritage Impact Assessment (if applicable): If the ruin is in a heritage-protected area, this  

  • Notificação de Vizinhança (se necessário):

Neighborhood Notification: In some cases, you may need to inform or consult with neighboring property owners.

It’s essential to check with your local council in Portugal for specific requirements, as there can be variations depending on the location and the scope of the project. Consulting with a local architect or lawyer who specializes in property and construction law can also be very helpful in navigating this process.

19 thoughts on “Red Tape & No Return

  • Hi Tony!
    I went to Portugal a couple of weeks ago and I love it! Stunning coastline looks beautiful, and the food is great. I like fish 🙂 But it reminds me about bureaucracy in Poland, where I run away from.
    I had the idea to buy a retirement home in Portugal or Spain and at this point, I decided not to do it. First because of the language barrier and secondly of the problems you are going through.
    But I will follow your blog just in case I change my mind.

  • Tony, I empathize with you and I don’t mean to offend – but other people’s pain often gives us a needed source of comedic relief. I laughed and I laughed about your red-tape process from the second sentence in your post right down to where we find out you hardly speak any Portuguese!

    You have likely hit a nerve (and funny bone) with all the anti-red-tape people of the world, lol.

    And we all need a secret weapon or two! Like you with your two Portuguese friends – we need someone who is experienced with planning that can execute the process – to guide us to success…sounds kinda like our experience with Affiliate Marketing, eh!

    I applaud your perseverance rebuilding this residential ruin in Portugal.

    • Hi Robert, you are absolutely right about the comic relief, If I could not laugh at this stuff it would drive me crazy.
      and again you are right about having someone who can guide us as we build our business (just like I have to build my house). Thanks for pointing that out

  • Hi Tony,
    We have exchanged several emails, and I consider you, my friend. You’ve asked me a very good question about how I plan to monetize my blog. I appreciate that question because it reminded me of the purpose of my blog. Now, I want to ask a question and please don’t misunderstand me. but have you considered the potential of affiliate marketing in terms of profitability? If so, why opt for a traditional business with all the requirements it involves, such as production, employees, billing, customers, suppliers, etc., when the affiliate business eliminates all those steps?

    • Hi Thanks for stopping by. Well yes…. here in Portugal there is a whole bunch or red tape around running a physical products business…. you have to register for each category you want to sell in, you need to get your packaging approved, you need to record the % or recyclable material you use, and the list goes on and on. So Affiliate marketing, for me, is a good option. I don’t have to have physical products, and I all need to do is declare my commissions. Affiliate Marketing just makes sense-

  • Sounds a bit like here in The Gambia. Nothing is easy when it comes to any sort of legal paperwork. Lucky you’ve got the help of local people. I’m fortunate (sometimes!) as my wife is Gambian and I have Gambian outlaws (sorry in-laws) and they all know someone who works at these places. Look forward to following your progress. I’m sure you’ll make it,

  • Sounds a bit like here in The Gambia. Nothing is easy when it comes to any sort of legal paperwork. Lucky you’ve got the help of local people. I’m fortunate (sometimes!) as my wife is Gambian and I have Gambian outlaws (sorry in-laws) and they all know someone who works at these places. Look forward to following your progress. I’m sure you’ll make it,

  • No doubt this is a wonderful project in a beautiful sunny country with so much history. It takes courage to go through all this bureaucracy. You must be really determined! This is going to be an awesome place to live. Thank you for sharing and to make us dream.

  • Wow, that’s really crazy.

    I really applaud your courage.

    I wouldn’t dare to start a huge project like this unless I have enough fund for the whole thing.

    Then again, you now have a big enough why to push you to succeed with your online business. I wish you lots of success 🙂

    • Thanks for the encouragement… yes it is a concern to me as well, but I needed to take action|

  • Way to stick with it, Tony. Best to you as you push through and see your dreams come to realization!

    • Thanks so much for the comment. Yes I am determined to push through.

  • Tony,
    I have had days like the ones you have mentioned, but luckily not an ongoing battle like you have had. I’m located in Alabama, USA and it sounds like we have a lot less Red Tape to go through when it comes to most things that I have done. With your determination to satisfy all the required forms, you should do great in your Online business, as you have already proved to yourself that you have what it takes to succeed! Continue on and I wish you the Best!

    • Thanks for the encouragement, and the best wished.

  • Tony,

    I don’t know about Portugal, But SJ and I built a house right when COVID started. We had to battle long wait times and items not being available and contractors coming down with COVID. What was only suppose to take 5 months, ended up being 9 months.

    We are happy to say this is our 3rd Christmas in the new house and it was all worth it.

    Look forward to hearing about the progress on your house.

  • Wow Tony, the process you are going through sounds daunting. Never easy to work through red tape but this does sound excessive. Keep on it and I hope it all works out and gets easier for you! look forward to seeing how it plays out. All the best!

    • Thanks. It is just one of those things you have to work with. Thanks for stopping by and commenting

  • Tony. WOW! That’s a lot of forms. I thought it was bad enough in the UK but many countries seem to be bogged down in bureaucracy. You have highlighted the need to educating yourself and planning ahead so that you are ready as you can be. It’s great that you have money ready to start in the new year. I look forward to watching what happens next year. I admire you as you are very brave doing this, well done. All the best. Atif

    • Atif, forms are the life blood of Portugues local government……… but but is a small price to pay to be allowed to stay in this beautiful country.

      Yes I have the money to start, but not to finnish, hence the need to raise this extra cash online.
      Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment


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