Choosing the right architect is a matter of great importance when you decide you want to create the home of your dreams.
The all year round climate of the Algarve is characterized by long hot summer months and cool, humid winters and this poses special cooling and heating considerations in planning your home. It is therefore important to engage the services of an architect experienced in designing Algarve homes and one that you can communicate with easily.
When you decide to build a new villa or refurbish an existing one the first step is to choose an architect
Before briefing your architect it is important to be aware that the Loulé Municipal Authority ( the local council) has a general plan (Plano Director Municipal) that sets out the regulations governing any construction within the municipal area.
The Plano Director Municipal stipulates a maximum area of permitted construction above ground level. Areas of basements normally do not count as areas of construction.
Accordingly, you can discuss with your architect the number and type of bedrooms and bathrooms etc you require, the best point of orientation for the villa in relation to its environment and access.
Projects are normally tailored to suit the client’s individual needs and it is customary for an architect to produce a number of sketches before you approve the final design.
At this stage the licensing and execution project begins.
The licensing project has to be submitted to the municipal authority and consists of six distinctly separate sections - architectural, structural, water/sewage, gas, heating, and acoustic.
If the project is located within an already approved development these sections can all be submitted at the same time and the official go ahead normally takes between four and six months.
If it is to be built in an urban area but outside urban developments(“resorts”) , then the architectural section of the project has to be first submitted and only after its approval, usually within three to five months, can the other sections be submitted.
A building license is generally issued after about six months of the submission of the initial project or projects.
The total cost of planning and licensing should be between and percent of the total value of construction.
|Tendering & Project Management Stage
At this stage you should consider inviting tenders based on the details included in the execution project. This can be done by your architect or project manager to ensure that you get the best deal not only in terms of cost and quality but that construction will be done strictly in accordance with the specifications.
The total cost of planning, licensing and project management should be between and percent of the total value of construction.
The project manager, preferably a qualified engineer and or an architect, who will be responsible for overseeing the technical and practical aspects of the planning and construction of your new home. He will work closely with the architect and the builder throughout the whole of the construction period, including periodic visits to the site, to ensure that quality standards are met and the work keeps to time schedules.
Construction in Portugal is regulated by an official body known as IMOPPI and builders are required to obtain an annual licence called an ‘Alvará’.
The architect or project manager normally invites the builder to submit a tender for the work on behalf of their client and this usually takes about a month to six weeks.
It is recommended that at this stage a draft building contract is drawn up which can be discussed with the builder.
The builder’s quotations can be presented either on the basis of a schedule of prices or lump sum for the total cost of the project. A lump sum contract is generally preferred by the majority of clients once the contents of the tender are defined in detail.
It is worth remembering that two major causes of delay in construction are defining accurately the materials and conditions of payment so special attention to these points may well lead to a quicker completion of your home.
An average villa takes 10 months to build. To complete in less time is a commendable achievement.
Time spent both on site and in the drawing office with your architect in the early planning stages is time well spent. The more detailed your brief the closer they can come to your original concept. And once you have decided on choice of tiles, fittings etc stick to it if possible as this can avoid irritating delays later if different materials have to be ordered.
It is advisable to request a detailed quotation for all the design sketches, calculations, finished plans and supervisory work required to carry out the project from start to finish.
Your architect will also be able to help you obtain the building licence from the local council as he or she is familiar with all of the relevant regulations.
It is equally important that you choose an authorized builder on the same basis as your architect.
Your specifications should contain everything down to the last detail so that there no misunderstandings later.
The builder’s quotation should give not only a price but outline a construction schedule and a proposal for staged payments.
It is prudent to ensure that there are no hidden extras such as VAT (IVA in Portuguese) or fluctuation clauses relating to sudden rises in the price of building materials.
If you are buying a plot from a developer or builder it is normal to request a separate contract for the plot on which you plan to build as it may have tax benefits for a first-time buyer.
The building contract should include all specifications and drawings, price and payment terms and a clause that no changes can be made without the consent of both parties.
The contract may also include a penalty clause for late completion and and agreed court of arbitration in the event of a dispute may also be included.
The contract should also stipulate that the construction will only be considered finished, and the final payment due, when the habitation licence (licença de habitaçâo) is issued.
In accordance with Portuguese law (Portuguese Civil Code article nº 1225 ) the builder is responsible for any major problems for a period of five years after completion and for 12 months for minor matters.
It is common practice to implement a retention of 10 percent of the total cost as a guarantee of the quality of the work for the first 12 months and which can be replaced by a letter of credit issued by a Portuguese bank.