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Advices on buying a house in Bulgaria

By Mehandjiev-architects, 05.2016

Below you will find a list of the most important aspects and possible problems when purchasing an existing house / building in Bulgaria. Often buyers can not rely on objective help from their consultants and agents who have a vested interest in the sale, so consultation with independant specialists: architects, engineers and lawyers, is very important. If you need advice for the state of the building and possibilities for future reconstruction, our team can help you with a detailed analysis of your chosen property.

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Aspects relating to the  situation of the plot and the property in general, can be found here.

1. Legal aspects:

– Regulation (regulaciq, property borders):

What kind of plot do you buy with it? PI (pozemlen imot – nonregulated land plot or UPI (ureguliran pozemnlen imot: regulated land plot). You can currently build only on UPIs, so you would need to regulate the plot to add buildings to it.

Is the house detached or is it in co-ownership? Do you buy a percentage of a property (idealna chast – ideal part)?

Is there a right to build in the notary act (notarialen akt)? Would you need permission from neighbours and co-owners about the construction?

What indicates the planning zone (ustroistvena zona) in which lays the property – what is the maximum number of storeys, density, intensity of the property (dictionary here). If you want to renovate or upgrade the house, good test of these parameters is to request a visa (viza, municipality design permission) for the design from the current owner – so it will become clear whether there are obstacles to construction.

Important note: Can neighboring properties be built in your disadvantage (blocking vistas, stopping access to your site, etc.)?

– Building legitimacy (legality) and permit papers:

Does the building have construction and design documents (Part Architecture, Civil engineering, etc., acts of construction – according to the year of construction, permission for construction and use permit – Act 16), if owner doesn’t have those – are there any copies in the municipality? Is there a technical passport (tehnicheski pasport, a new requirement which will become necessary in a few years)?

Each building which doesn’t have a use permit is illegal, according to Bulgarian Building Law (Zakon za ustroistvo na teritoriqta, ZUT) even if it has a notary act.

Is the building entered in the cadastre (kadastur, an index of all land properties and buildings in Bulgaria), if the area has a cadastre? Does it correspond to indexed area and number of floors? For questions, ask a geodesy surveyor. In order to apply, you will need the above documents or evidence of tolerance.

Important note: notary offices only check if the seller has the legal right to sell you the property, and not whether this property has any legal status (e.g. the building may not even classify as a “house” according to ZUT, but as a construction site, if it doesn’t have documents, even if it is being used as such).

More about the necessary documentation you can read in an article about the so called certificate of tolerance (udostoverenie za tarpimost)

2. Technical aspects:

– Infrastructure

Does the plot have sewerage, water, electricity and gas? Are there plans (in the Master Plan and Municipal Development Plan) for the construction of such? Will you property be affected directly or by servitude lines? Are existing networks near you are private or public? Always precontract with priate network before you buy the property, you will be in no postition to bargain afterwards.

Is it possible to build a water probe well (check around the area what is the depth of aquifers) if you need one.

If there is no sewage, is the sewage pit legal? If there is none built, is there the possibility of  building one or discharging of treated water in nearby ravine or river?

– street, accessability

Is there a road adjacent to the property and what is its pavement (dirt road, asphalt, etc.). What kind of car can use it in rain, in snow? Are there plans for its expansion, will this taken from the property area?

– existing buildings in the plot, distances, tolerance:

What are constructed buildings in the ground and what is their status? Are they in the cadastre and the notary act, do they have papers – design and construction (look here for more information). If they are illegal, you cannot build in the property before you remove them. What is their condition, do you need to remove or reconstruct them?

– Construction

What is the structure of the building – is there a modern skeletal concrete construction, or is it only with slabs and brick walls or just wooden frame? Are there any signs of structural damage – cracks, signs of prolonged water leaks? What is the condition of the roof? Consult a structural engineer when in doubt.

– Heating

Is there a good thermal insulation on the building? How would heating objectively cost? Are there any signs of dampness and mold? What kind are the windows? Ask if you see signs of recent renovations (paint, plaster, etc.)

– Water and plumbing

What is the condition of the pipes? Is there water pressure? Is the water fit to drink? Does the roof water drain away properly?

– Electrical

What is the status of electrical systems – interior and street – are there any possible problems; what’s the contract with theel. utility company? Check whether electricity supplied is in the norms (220V), if the house is in a remote village.

– Architecture details

Have the premises good clear height (over 2.60 m). Do you hear through inner and outer walls. Does the distribution of the rooms meet your needs and can it be changed? How much would renovation works cost? Rule of thumb is that a full interior renovation costs about half the cost of building a new house – take this into account and negotiate with seller.

3. Environment and nature:

– Sloping, denivalation

What is the slope of the terrain – is ti easy to access and use? Will you need terracing and different levels of the house?

– Sunlight

What is its position towards the sun and what is the solar exposure during different periods of the year? For example, prestigious Vitosha areas of the city of Sofia are looking north and in shade for much of the year and day.

– Water and draining

Is there a possibility of flooding or swamping? How does rainwater drain, would the house have problems with it? Are there septic tanks in the area, which can poison acquifiers and cause landslides?

– Geological

Are there landslides and other soil problems in the property or in the surrounding area? Look around the house for cracks, look for fallen trees and rocks; in doubt consult a geologist.

– Greening, trees, soil

What is the landscaping of the terrain, is the soil fertile? Does it support long-living and valuable plant species?

4. Social aspects

– What are the other houses in the area – do they correspond to your desired size and height? How are they heated? Is the area gentrifying, are there new houses, families, businesses?

– Is it possible to build large buildings in nearby properties around your to limit your view and sunlight? Check PUP (detailed regulation plan, podroben ustroistven plan) of the area, look for newer buildings in the neighborhood, usually much higher than old ones, how many floors do they have?

– Talk with neighbors, and their perception of the seller. Do they have disagreements about borders, fences, outbuildings? Do you want such people as neighbors? Do they meet your social status? What general problems does the area have (accessibility, water, crime …)? Ask them about problems in any of the above points if you have doubts (e.g. servitute lines, hostory if the house, groundwater, etc.). Do they know how much cost other properties in the neighborhood, whether any are for sale?

– How much does it take to get to your workplace? And at rush hour or in winter?

– Will it be convenient for your children when they go to school and go home during the day and night?

– Where are the health facilities, municipality, police, shops and other necessary services?

If you are unsure of you choice- contact us, we will help with the evaluation and selection.

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