Improvements to a building go far beyond acoustic or thermal improvements… it’s also a crucial form of valuation, especially when considering the sale of a property. However, are all interventions subject to a building notice?

Throughout this article, we’ll explain which works require authorization or licensing, as well as how and where you should apply for a building notice. This way, you can avoid unexpected costs with fines.


What is a building notice?

In short, a building notice, also known as prior communication, is an administrative procedure that allows prior control of urban planning operations. This communication is the result of a request for authorization to carry out building works from the local authority or the competent external entities, as established in the RJUE – Regime Jurídico de Urbanização e Edificação.


The difference between prior notification and licensing

The fundamental distinction is the way in which the elements are submitted for acceptance in one go, as well as the approval deadlines. For example, in licensing, the architectural project can be submitted initially, followed by the specialty projects after approval, and then it is necessary to apply for the permit to be issued.


What to do after the prior communication request?

After submitting a prior communication request to the City Council, a notice (advertising the request) must be posted at the site of the work within a maximum of 10 days (as stipulated in article 12 of the RJUE).

The size of the notice must be rectangular and no smaller than 0.8m x 1.2m. In the case of an urban development operation in an existing fraction bordering a street or public circulation space, it must be no smaller than 0.4 m × 0.6 m. In addition, it must be made of material resistant to the action of climatic agents.


What is the deadline for replying to the prior notice?

According to the law, the City Council must provide a response within 20 working days of submitting the request.

This deadline can be extended to 60 days if the proposal requires consultation or opinions from external entities. If the prior communication is not rejected within the time limits stipulated by law, the interested party can carry out the urban planning operation, provided they have paid the appropriate fees.


How long to build after the building notice?

Whenever requested, the City Council can issue a certificate of non-rejection of the Prior Communication within 10 days of submitting the application.

It is therefore necessary to:

  • Pay the urban planning fees to start construction;
  • Submit the request for communication of the start of work no later than 5 days before the start of work;
  • Communicate the identity of the person in charge of carrying out the work.

In short, this process brings forward the legal deadline for the decision of 20 working days, which creates a certain risk for the interested party in “forcing” the application not to be rejected.


Can the building notice be rejected?

Once the application has been submitted, it goes through a preliminary clearance stage at the Town Hall. Once the application has been submitted, it undergoes a preliminary analysis at the Town Hall. If the prior communication needs to be improved, a period of 15 days is given to make the necessary corrections.

If the information contained in the urban planning operation is contrary to legal or regulatory standards, or if the application is not correctly presented, then a preliminary rejection order will be issued.


Need help with prior notification?

Whether you’re building a house or rehabilitating old buildings, the prior notice process is a procedure that you have to follow in accordance with the law. That’s why it’s essential to have an architect who has the necessary skills to help you through the various stages of the process.

Need help? Contact our team at MJARC!

NOTE: You can consult and confirm all legal issues on the government websites mentioned above. At any time, these state bodies may update or modify the legal issues related to the Notice of Works. In addition, the information presented in this article does not dispense you from consulting the local authorities, namely the Town Hall where you intend to carry out the work.
It should also be added that this article serves only as a support guide and does not dispense with consulting professionals legally qualified to provide information on up-to-date legal frameworks related to the subject, namely lawyers.