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Lawyers, Architects, Engineers, Surveyors and Topographers

Buyers are often advised, and usually want to, choose and use their own independent lawyer. In Portugal this is not necessary and one can execute the process yourself (if you speak the language and if you have an idea of the process). 

However, recently, the government, in order to clear the present "blockages" in the system, causing long delays, Notaries have the right to assist in the service of conveyancing in addition to their previously assigned duties. 

Using this new sytem called "Casa Simples" a buyer or seller can take the paperwork to the local notary and be secure that all will be correctly seen to.

However if you do decide to instruct a lawyer, there is usually a prepayment to be paid to cover the cost of initial documents which need to be requested. He/she will need a copy of the buyers passport(s) and of the Portuguese tax number(s) . The lawyer will then check the documentation to assure that all is legally correct and once satisfied will draw up the Preliminary contract (Promessa Compra e Venda) where the owner promises to sell and the buyer promises to buy. Both parties have to sign this and the buyer has to pay the agreed deposit to the seller at this time. The lawyer will then attend to the rest of the the requirements which will ultimately lead to the completion and signing of the final deed. (Escritura).  A fees vary in price. 

Architects and engineers are those who help you realise building or rebuilding the house of your dreams. 
An architect can start out by finding out for you what you are allowed to build on the land that you choose to buy. He/she can then, together with you, draw up the building plans (project) and present these to the council for approval. Once approved one has to apply for a building licence which, when granted gives one a period of one year within which to start construction. Some architects offer the extra service of project management which is a good idea if one does not speak the language or have in-depth knowlegde of the materials and product quality in Portugal.

An engineer assists the architect by doing the structural calculations plus accompanying drawings, but they are also able to draw the complete plan and have it approved if one prefers taking that course of action. This is much cheaper. In essence the difference between these two professionals is that an architect is the artist and the engineer the technician who helps turn the artwork into reality! 

Surveyors
are not common in Portugal. Architects or engineers are those usually called in to give an evaluation of the state of a property, the result of which can be given in written form - a kind of a structural report.

Topographers are also useful and they are many about as the profession has been boosted by the recent need for topographies to prove true land areas. Some of them use a GPS whilst others still use the old method of a theodolite. Depending on the detail one needs, these services differ as they are more time consuming but much more precise with an error margin of only 1 or 2 millimetres,  whilst a GPS generated topography can have an error margin of 1 to 2 metres! The old method also shows the elevations in much more detail. Prices again vary depending on the size of the property and the access.