According to Expresso newspaper, having a large apartment is no longer a requirement for many families who are looking for smaller homes, are concerned about maintenance costs, and see sharing a home as a form of saving money.

In Barcelos, the construction company FM Magalhães transformed the well-known Casa Azul, a property in the city center, into a residential building, with two apartments, T4 and T3, to which it added a commercial space, all equipped with a garage and backyard.

According to idealista, citing the newspaper Expresso, states that companies such as the construction company Duality have been converting several old or degraded properties, in the city centres, into habitable buildings. This is one of the many examples that respond to "the ability to reimagine and adapt spaces for new functions, and the impact they can have on responding to the lack of housing”, argues Vítor Ribeiro, from the construction company Duality, which has been operating in this market.

The creation of a second apartment requires the change of fractions and “bureaucracy is not always easy to overcome”, warns João de Sousa Rodolfo, architect at Traçado Regulador.

In Viseu, these types of works have been carried out by the municipality, which has already purchased several old buildings, which will soon be on the rental market. At the moment, Viseu has already recovered 18 houses in the city centre, which have become 34 apartments.

Further north of the country, in Viana do Castelo, idealista reveals that the construction company Reabilitar Viana has a project for around 100 apartments to be built in old buildings in the city.

Law behind the action

According to Expresso, the General Urban Building Regime requires that these changes go through a new horizontal property process, which allows large houses, with an area of ​​200 square meters and sometimes more, to be duplicated into two or more houses. The law allows the division of a property into two or more apartments, separated in the property registry, that is, into autonomous units. However, this is a slow process, and “it has to take into account the infrastructure, the existing plant and it is not simple to execute”, says Sousa Rodolfo.

The alternative is to “maintain the building and redesign the space, adapting it to new thermal comfort, energy and seismic risk requirements”, says the architect. For this “a new project is needed”, says Sousa Rodolfo.

This is what is happening in Viana do Castelo where the construction company Reabilitar Viana is transforming several degraded properties in the city's historic center. The company led by Fábio Costa started with one apartment and currently has, either in the design phase or ready to move into, 100 apartments located in old buildings.

These are works, explains João de Sousa Rodolfo, which involve “the reformulation of the interior, in very compartmentalized houses, with unhealthy spaces and without minimum dimensions and which allow the reduction of typologies, to T1 and T2”. “This trend makes it possible to overcome the lack of buildable urban space, add supply to the market and increase fractions per property”, says the architect.

Old buildings

Sousa Rodolfo gives the example of Rua do Salitre, in Lisbon to Expresso, where an “old building was transformed into three T0 and T1 apartments. Apartments with “a sales cost of around €500 thousand euros, which enable other profitability”, adds the architect. This manager also has in hand the transformation of a set of four contiguous buildings in Campo de Ourique, also in Lisbon, with around 1420 m2 of gross construction area, which will give rise to 31 apartments of various types.

The work requires maintaining relevant heritage elements and creating a new project that goes beyond the constraints of simple transformation.

“With the advantage of the developer obtaining a higher value per m2”, reveals the architect. Future residents, they are “more comfortable homes, energy efficient, spacious and suitable for contemporary living”, adds Sousa Rodolfo.