In this article, we provide our top tips for finding the right tradespeople in Portugal when you’re renovating a property. 

Renovating your Portuguese home

Renovating a property in Portugal is an enticing proposition for many, but it’s important to get the details right. Not everything works in the same way as you may be used to in your former country.

Internal renovations are much simpler to manage in Portuguese properties than external works, as there are fewer legalities to consider. Unless you are changing the core structure of a building (for example, by pulling out entire floors to create a galleried mezzanine) you are generally free to do what you wish with the inside of your home in Portugal.

There are, however, some exceptions. If you buy a home in an area designated as a natural park, you are not allowed to make any changes without permission. (But note that this doesn’t mean tradespeople in Portugal won’t agree to do the work without ensuring you have the relevant permission!)

Similarly, things can get complicated (and long-winded) if you need to connect mains services like electricity and water. This is particularly relevant where they haven’t been connected previously, or have been out of use for a long time. It is also important to factor in how long large-scale renovation projects can take to complete. You are sometimes likely to be looking at years, rather than weeks or months. Therefore you need to bear this in mind when planning and budgeting for any renovations.

Choosing Tradespeople in Portugal for Electrical Work

Be careful when undertaking any electrical work in Portugal. Check the credentials of anyone you hire to perform such work on your property. If you’re tempted to fly out a UK contractor, you should give it some serious thought; UK electrical qualifications are not valid in Portugal. Work can be considered illegal if not performed – or at the very least, signed off – by a certified person.

External renovations

External renovations can get a lot more complicated than internal improvements. If you intend to make your property larger or taller, or if you need to change the roof or façade of a building, you will need permission from your local camara (town hall). For this, you will need an architect to draw up plans for you. The language barrier can become an issue here, so if you cannot speak Portuguese, a friendly lawyer can help to ease the renovation process.

We can recommend a solicitor. Or, if you already have a trusted solicitor who represented you through the property buying process, they should be able to help. “Friends in high places” can prove useful in Portugal, so try to have someone on your team that knows some!

Get recommendations for tradespeople in Portugal from other expats, via expat websites, from AFPOP (an expat organisation), or even from your real estate agent or solicitor. They will know who is legally authorised and best-placed to undertake different renovation works.

Planning permission

Once planning permission is granted, it’s important to realise that any permission has an expiry date in Portugal, so you need to ensure work is started in time to avoid going through the entire process again. Ensure you use licensed tradespeople in Portugal. If not, you could get your project completed in time, but then find it difficult to sell on because you don’t have all the necessary paperwork in place.

Above all, remember that you are in Portugal – a country you probably chose for its wonderful, slow pace of life. So try not to get too frustrated when everything takes longer than you would expect. It’s just the way things are…

Download your free Portugal Buying Guide

The Portugal Buying Guide is designed to support you through each stage of buying property in Portugal, providing relevant, up-to-date information and tips from Portugal property experts and expats who have been through the process themselves. It helps you to:


  Ask the right questions
  Avoid losing money
  Avoid the legal pitfalls
  Move in successfully

Download your free guide to buying abroad

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