How to buy a ruin in Portugal – keep in mind!


There are several things to keep in mind about how to buy a ruin in Portugal.

The idea of this article came up because a lot of my YouTube subscribers are interested in very cheap rural properties, located usually in central Portugal. These properties, that starts from around 2.500 euro, are usually considered ruins.

So please, don’t expect much from these properties! We are here just to test the waters, compare the dream vs. reality when thinking to buy a ruin in Portugal. Or maybe you want to buy a farm, or engaging in a project to rebuild an abandoned home. It’s the same thing.

A few things to be mindful when you want to buy a ruin on Portugal.


The first thing you have to check at the Townhall or Camara Municipal is if you can actually build anything on the land. If the land is registered as agricultural, then you cannot build on it. Also, even if the land is not registered as agricultural, there are some cases, when you can’t build anything. Like for example a protected area or a fire risk zone area. You cannot even station a wagon there legally speaking.

Then check the % of the total land that is authorizes for building in that specific area you want to buy.


The common mistake is that you think if you buy a piece of land with a ruin on it, that gives you automatically the right to build on the land whatever you want.

This is actually why people buy ruins, because they heard that they can construct a new project on top of that existing one. Well, this is valid in some cases, but not in ALL cases.

First, you should check  that the ruin/building that is on the land has a habitation license. Habitation license means that the ruin has been initially constructed for people to live in, and it also has the proper authorization for the people to live in.

It can be the case that the ruin you are buying is a place where they used to keep animals. Or store grains, or other stuff. In this case you cannot build on top of that ruin. Not legally I mean.

Second, even if the ruin has a habitation license, you should check if you can extend or not the footprint of the ruin. Maybe the ruin is small and you want a bigger house. In this case you will have to extend the construction more than the initial ruin. Or maybe you want to make a rural hotel, in which case, again you need an extension. These things need permits and only Camara Municipal can tell you if they will give you the permits or not.


Even after you gather all these information, check the information from different sources. Let’s say you find out something from the realtor, check it with the lawyer information, or ask the neighbors. And check all the information against the only official source, Camara Municipal. In all cases, it will be advisable that your lawyer should be present at the meetings with Camara Municipal. He understand all the details and implication and he understands also Portuguese. You think that is expensive to do that? Well, it will be even more expensive if you miss a detail that is crucial.

The main take is don’t just take the sellers word or the agent word on it, request documents!


Check to have on the property water that you can drink and and electricity. If you don’t have electricity enquire well in advance how much it will cost you to bring electricity on your land, because this will be one of the hidden major costs if you don’t pay attention.

Buildings considered to be in ruins are excluded from the energy certification system. At least you won’t be needing that! The law is Decree Law 118/2013, paragraph g) of article 4.

Also check out to see if your property is eligible for a grant for re-construction. Some old properties are eligible as the government is trying to restore Portugal to it’s former glory. Where you should check that? Well… Camara Municipal. 🙂


One of my subscribers left a comment on my Youtube channel saying:

10.000 euro for a ruin is not cheap!

What do you think about his affirmation? Leave it in the comments!

Also check out the video on this , where I go in depth with the information.

Read this next!Very cheap rural property in Portugal – Between 10.000 EUR and 25.000 EUR