If you are thinking of buying new real estate in the near future, know which documents you must get from the builder so as to know everything about the construction of your new house. See here what you can and should demand from the seller of a new residential real estate:
The Building Certificate (BC) - also called the home's ID card - is a document that describes the technical and functional features of houses with usage licences ("licença de utilização") requested after 30th March 2004.
If you wish to purchase a new house, ask the person showing you the property to give you a copy of the BC, or provisional BC if the construction is not finished.
This document, which cannot be filled in in handwriting (excluding the signatures of the technical experts), must be written in Portuguese in a manner that is clear and understandable to the recipient or the buyer of the property, and include, depending on the case, the following information:
Concerning the developer and technical team:
- identification of the property developer (entity that drives, organises, coordinates and finances the construction);
- identification of the architect responsible for the architectural project, including the respective registration number with the Portuguese Association of Architects;
- identification of the technical experts responsible for specialised projects (namely structures, water supply and waste water drainage, electric power supply, gas supply, radio and television broadcasting distribution, telephone, thermal insulation, sound insulation, fire safety system, and mechanical installations), including the corresponding registration numbers with the competent authorities such as the Portuguese Association of Engineers, National Association of Technical Engineers, Directorate-General for Energy or ANACOM;
- identification of the builder, including construction licence;
- identification of the technical expert responsible for the works, including registration number with appointing authority.
Concerning the housing development or real estate project:
- total number of buildings;
- total number of housing units;
- total number of parking spaces;
- number and type of existing or envisioned collective equipment;
- identification of entities responsible for the promotion, management and maintenance of the mentioned equipment;
- housing development plan.
Concerning the housing development or real estate project:
- identification of urban building, indicating location, land registry number and date of usage licence;
- number of stories above ground;
- total number of dwellings (houses);
- number of lifts;
- must state if includes type of usage other than housing, and respective location;
- total number of parking spaces reserved for residents;
- access conditions for persons with reduced mobility;
- existence of condominium meeting room;
- existence of caretaker lodge;
- features of building solutions for main construction elements of building, namely foundations and structure, exterior walls and roof;
- description of main building materials and products used in the building's common areas, especially those in direct contact with the residents, and list of respective manufacturers including contacts and addresses;
- description of the building's control and management systems, namely regarding housebreaking safety, fire safety, energy management and environmental management;
- location of noisy equipment, such as lifts, generators and water pumps;
- location of optional access equipment for disabled persons, such as people with physical, visual or hearing disabilities;
- simplified plan of building entrance floor, indicating direction and location of external doors, corridors and passageways, stairs and lifts.
Concerning building units (apartments):
- identification of apartment, indicating location and facade orientation;
- number and date of usage licence;
- description of house and dwelling (i.e. building: house plus outbuildings);
- gross areas of house and dwelling, useful floor spaces of each room and each outbuilding;
- description of building solutions for main construction elements of building, namely external and internal walls, floor and stairs, ceilings and roofs, external and internal doors, external window frames and sun protection systems for openings;
- description of main building materials and products used in building's common areas, especially those in direct contact with residents, and list of respective manufacturers including contacts and addresses;
- features of housing facilities, namely water supply, residual domestic water drainage, rainwater drainage, gas supply, electricity supply, cooling and heating, gas and smoke ventilation and evacuation and telephone and telecommunications;
- description of incorporated equipment, namely in the kitchen and sanitary facilities, and list of respective manufacturers including contacts and addresses;
- simplified plan of the floor that gives access to the housing unit, highlighting the location of the housing unit and common areas, and indicating location of fire extinguishers and emergency exits in case of fire;
- simplified plans of the dwelling, including plan of the housing unit showing all rooms and location of incorporated equipment, built-in or mobile;
- simplified plans of existing networks in the dwelling, namely water supply, residual domestic water drainage, rainwater drainage, gas supply, electricity supply, cooling, heating, communications and entertainment distribution networks.
Other compulsory information:
- terms of construction guarantee, as well as claim procedure if faults are detected;
- condominium rules, if any, and provision of service agreements that may be in force;
- maintenance rules for fitted equipment that requires special treatment.
- other points related to the administration of the condominium, other than those already mentioned;
- instructions on the use and maintenance of facilities and equipment, including useful advice concerning the security of the building or apartment, common areas and additional services.
The plans of the real estate project, building and apartment must be identified in the assigned places in the BC and constitute an annex that is an integral part of the document.
Concerning information on main materials and products used to construct the apartment, the BC must include, in particular:
- the material used on walls, specifying if there are double walls or not, and corresponding coatings;
- type of sound and thermal insulations;
- type of roof and floor;
- type of waterproofing material, if any;
- type of plumbing material and efficiency;
- material used on window frames and blinds;
- type of entrance door.
Preparation of the BC is the responsibility of the property developer (entity that coordinates and finances the construction). The developer and technical expert responsible for the works must sign this document certifying the veracity of the information in the BC and its compliance with the architectural and specialised projects of the real estate property.
Note that the technical expert responsible for the works and the property developer will both be liable for any damage caused to the buyers or third-parties resulting from false or misleading statements or information contained in the BC.
This document is not compulsory for buildings:
- constructed before the General Law on Urban Construction came into effect in 1951;
- whose construction is completed and that have been granted a usage licence;
- whose construction is completed and usage licence was requested from the relevant authorities before 30th March 2004.
Real estate deeds whose usage licences were requested after 30th March can only be drawn when the BC of the property in question is presented at a notary's office. This obligation applies both to the first sales of a property between developer or builder and client, as well as to all subsequent sales.
Similarly, credit institutions that have been requested to finance the purchasing of real estate that is required to have a BC, shall not be able to loan money without first ensuring that this document has been given to their client, who is interested in purchasing the property.
Homeowners must keep the BC while the property is in their possession and, in case of sale, give it to the new owner. Should this document be lost, stolen or damaged, the owner may obtain a duplicate of the BC by contacting the property developer or the local Town Hall.
Note that the property developer is obliged to keep the BC for a minimum period of 10 years and that it will also be stored at the local Town Hall.
Whenever a property that is obliged to have a BC is leased, this document shall also be provided, by the owner or the agent, to the potential tenant, before the agreement is signed.
The BC, in digital form (FTH.doc or FTH.pdf), is available for consultation by the interested parties and for completion by the entities required to do so at the websites of the "Instituto do Consumidor" ( Consumer Institute), Institute for Public, Private and Real Estate Works Markets and the National Civil Engineering Laboratory.
The following infractions shall be punished with a fine:
- including information in the technical summary that does not fully correspond to the real characteristics of the dwelling;
- false statements from the technical expert responsible for the works regarding the matching of information in the technical summary and the actual characteristics of the dwelling;
- nonexistence of records of the technical summaries of the dwellings;
- failure to file a copy of the technical summary of the dwelling with the town hall, or failure to fulfil that obligation in due time;
- breach of rules concerning information disclosure;
- breach of rules concerning publicity.
These offences are punishable by a fine of 2,490 up to 44,890 euros, according to type of offender - individual or company.
When the seriousness of the breach so justifies, the following additional penalties may be applied:
- seizure of goods used to carry out the offences;
- temporary closure of the facilities or stores where business is carried out, for a maximum period of two years counting from the date of the final conviction;
- disqualification from the pursuit of commercial activities, for a maximum period of two years counting from the date of the final conviction.
Supervision of compliance to these rules is divided between:
- the Consumer Institute, which supervises and files infraction proceedings related to publicity, while it the responsibility of the "Comissão de Aplicação de Coimas em Matéria Económica e de Publicidade" (Commission for the Imposition of Fines on Economic Activity and Publicity) to impose fines and other sanctions;
- the "Instituto dos Mercados de Obras Públicas e Particulares e do Imobiliário" (IMOPPI - Institute for Public, Private and Real Estate Works Markets), which supervises and files infraction proceedings when the technical summary of the dwelling has information that does not fully correspond to the actual features of the dwelling, a copy of the technical summary of the dwelling has not been filed, and when information disclosure rules have been breached;
- the Town Hall, which inspects, supervises and files infraction proceedings when there is has been a failure to file copy of technical summary of the dwelling with the town hall, or failure to fulfil that obligation in due time.