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Tiny Homes Permission. The Lowdown Part 2

Following on from our Tiny Homes Permission, Part 1. Paulo Borges, a professional architect, from Plataforma – arquitectura, shares his insights on legal permissions around Tiny Homes.

Is there such a thing as ‘non permanent dwelling’ in the Portuguese system?
It’s a difficult question. In the Portuguese system there’s no definition for a non permanent dwelling.
What we have is a definition for camping and a definition for dwellings. Camping is a temporary installation of a portable shelter to be placed outdoors, with the purpose of serving as temporary accommodation. All the other types of accommodations (non portable or permanent) are considered dwellings and they have to fulfil the laws. The difficulty here is to clarify what we can consider to be a non portable shelter or what we consider temporary installation.
Some councils have rules that clarify this question but most of them do not specify this. But basically for the Portuguese common sense, the authorities will consider a portable accommodation as something that you can build and take off in some hours or one day. Also they will consider it a temporary installation if you don’t live there. If you built a kitchen or a bath, this are signs that you live there and it’s not a temporary accommodation, and all types of permanent accommodations are mandatory to be licensed and they have to follow the rules.

For the different types of dwellings should they be described in a certain way/ under certain categories?
If you are camping, there’s no need for a planning application. There’s some rules about were and when you can do camping but you don’t need to apply for planning application to the council. For any other kind of accommodation, you will need to get a building license. In this case you can apply for a private house, a camping site or any other type of tourist project. They all have different rules and restrictions.

Is there a specific type of home where there is more of an issue, i.e. yurt versus caravan?
A caravan is considered as camping. In some councils they have specific rules about were caravans can stay and how many hours a day. The same for yurts but with different rules.

Is there different laws applied to private homes versus tourist projects?
Yes. The laws changes regarding if it’s for a private house or a tourist project. Usually private houses have less restrictions but also a smaller footprint. This depends a lot on the type of land classification.

Is there a restriction for how long a ‘non-permanent dwelling’ can stay?
Some councils have specific rules for camping, but most of them do not specify that.

What are the implications of being in or near a national park?
National parks have specific rules. Some only allow camping on very specific places. Even in private proprieties you may not be able to camp. In this case, if you want to camp on a propriety that is on a National Park, you will need to get a license for a private camping site. This will obey to certain rules and may need the approval of other authorities. The same for any other kind of construction.

Taking all the Tiny Homes names, how would you name them so it was easy for the Municipals?
A house it’s a house. They all need to fulfill the same rules.

Will a Tiny Home always be allowed on an urban article?
Not always. It depends on the restrictions that applies on the urban article.

Is it true that any structure less than 30m2 doesn’t need planning permission?
Not always. It depends on the restrictions that each council applies on “constructions that does need permissions”. Some councils only apply this rule until 10m2 and they need to fulfil other restrictions. Others councils may not have this rule at all.

What is the best way to approach the Camara when asking about planning permission for a Tiny Home?
The best way is to ask first what are the restrictions for constructions that doesn’t need planning permission. If your construction fits in this category, you probably just need to fill a form to inform the council about your project. If it’s a house, even a tiny house, you will need to hire an architect to apply. He will know what’s the restriction for a planning permission.

Is it true that if the structure has no foundations it doesn’t need planning permission?
No. It depends of what you are building and the waterproofed area.

Thank you Paulo for sharing with Pure Portugal.

Click here for tiny homes legal permission part 1. 

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