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A Word of Advice re Building a New Algarve Villa

7th March 2011: Algarve Villa Property Sales

I meet many clients who want to build their dream villa down here in the Algarve. There are a number of expensive pitfalls and so I thought it worthwhile to detail a few home truths.

There are several little “mafias” operating in localised areas especially in the more expensive places such the central Algarve around Vale do Lobo, Quinta do Lago, Almancil, Vilamoura, etc. Effectively they are groups of supposedly unrelated independent companies which operate together with “backhanders” going back and forth. To the unwitting client it looks like he has the independent advice of separate professionals.

For example there will be an architect to draw up the designs, a project manager to supervise the building process, an engineer to be “legally liable” for the construction, an inspector to verify the construction, a building company to carry out the building, and a number of ''specialist'' suppliers who will feed the project at inflated prices. You will be persuaded that all of these all needed to guarantee the end quality of the build. What you will not know is they all pay each other commissions to be part of the cabal. While this does not necessarily compromise the quality of the work it certainly increases substantially the cost to the client and creates conflicts of interest! The cost can be twenty to fifty percent more with no guarantee of quality in the end. The other end of the scale is to hire a local builder with access to a draughtsman who will draw up a basic project. This will inevitably be adapted along the way, and the end result may or may not be acceptable to the local authorities for licensing purposes (especially due to the ever changing regulations regarding heat insulation and acoustic values). These people generally have some experience building modest dwellings for local people but are out of their depth when dealing with the requirements of most British people both in terms of design and more importantly quality of build.

The best way is a middle course which we feel offers security to the client, but without adding exaggerated and unnecessary costs. We use a fully licensed local building company with a reputation built over many years in the Algarve and which is owned and run by British professionals. They have their own in house engineering resources and have access to a number of architects. Furthermore they have a proven track record of client satisfaction and can supply an inclusive ''in house'' service at a fixed price. We encourage clients to appoint a qualified independent inspector who will ensure that the materials and construction follow the approved plans but, most importantly, who do not interfere with the choice of suppliers or the actual building process. In this way, we can guarantee the project is built to the required standards and will meet the final licensing requirements but can also guarantee a fixed price which does not include any commissions ''for the boys''.

Don’t get fleeced by these villains. They have got away with charging ridiculous prices from unsuspecting British clients for too long. They may have swish offices, slick presentations and smooth talking sales people but they are rogues none the less.

Posted by Len Bartlett Elite Algarve Properties T: +44 (0) 208 529 3635 E:

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