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The Federation of European Independent Financial Advisers



Are you planning on building a house overseas? If so, you will need to bear in mind that the steps to follow may be very different from those at home.

Hi, I’m Simon Conn, a property finance expert. Here are my top tips for building a property overseas and the pitfalls you should look out for.

Can I build on any type of plot and what do I need? 

In some countries, there are minimum plot sizes and maximum build sizes which limit how much you can build on a given plot. This is to avoid overcrowding properties.

You will need to check whether you require planning permission and a building licence. Also, you should check if the property is suitably classified to allow you to build in the first place.

In some countries, rogue developers turn a blind eye to these requirements and hope to get away with it. So watch out for this!

Often the authorities have limitation periods to take enforcement action against illegal builds and some developers will seek to take advantage of this. Just because other people do this does not make this a risk worth taking.

How do I know if the construction is theoretically possible? 

What you can build and planning regulations are likely to be different from your home country. It is well worth getting a local architect to work with you on the plans and specifications of the property, and to guide you through local building requirements.

For example, in some countries, you must build properties that are resistant to earthquakes and ideally not on a flood plain.

What do I need to consider when building a property overseas? 

Your property abroad will probably need to meet different requirements than may be needed in your home country. Most people do not pay enough attention to these differences when building a house.

In warmer climates, the whole design of a house is created to keep a property cool, but you’ll also have to consider that in winter the weather can get surprisingly cold, so heating is also recommended.

Do I need to be in the country for the entire building process? 

If you are considering constructing a house, and you intend to use a builder local to the region, then consider how you are going to do this from a distance.

If you are not in the country at the time, you will need to get contractors in to do some of the work. Additionally, the challenge of language barriers should not be underestimated. Building, or even project managing a self-build in your home country, can be difficult enough, let alone abroad.

Also, it is worth noting that in some countries workers are not allowed to work during certain times of the day. This is normally either to keep the noise down for neighbours or to protect the workers from the heat during the middle of the day.

The above article was kindly provided by Simon Conn, Overseas Property and Finance Specialist and originally posted at: