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Building Your Own Home

Spain - Building Your Own Home


Many people who are looking to move to Spain can spend years trying to find their dream property. Often they have an idea of the type of house they want, with all the facilities they need, but finding a house to match that dream might just be a little more difficult. There is one solution and that would be to build a home from scratch. That way it can be just as you want it. Buying land and building a home can also be a cheaper way of doing things, of course, optional extras such as swimming pools can add quite a bit to the cost of the new build but is often cheaper to do at the same time as building the property rather than putting a pool in at a later date.

The Spanish building regulations work different than in most other countries. The local town hall (Ayuntamento) will grant permissions for the building works to take place. Permissions are not guaranteed and there may be different criteria that need to be met depending on the municipality, the zoning regulations and the plot size to be built on. It is the responsibility of the builder or contractor to obtain the correct permissions prior to work beginning on the home, although it is the responsibility of the property owner to ensure that this has actually been done.

If there is a mortgage in place on the property to be built the lender will usually insist that only Spanish registered tradesmen work on the project. This is because all registered tradesmen in Spain have to have the right insurances. The lender will not approve finance without these assurances. Using registered tradesmen has the added advantage of knowing your home is being built by someone who is able to work to the highest standards.

If you have a rural plot of land that is categorized as ‘Suelo no urbanizable común’ this means there is no special protection on the land and it can be developed for residential properties for private usage. However, any land categorised as ‘Suelo no urbanizable protegido’ means it is specially protected land and therefore no residential builds will be permitted. Building on the land is usually restricted in terms of the size of the land. It must be a minimum of 10,000m2 and the maximum build allowed would be 2% per floor, although two floors are usually permitted to a maximum height of 7 metres. The house being built would also have to conform to the same style of home within that area.

There are different rules for plots in urban areas (suelo urbano) whereby it is permitted that building is usually allowed up to 20% of the size of the plot, however urban plots tend to be much smaller at between 800m2 and 1,500m2 approximately. Urban plots also have the convenience of access roads, water and electricity. You should never buy a plot without a ‘certificado urbanistico’. This is the certificate to say what type of plot it is; what building is permitted on that particular plot, and how much building is allowed given the size of the plot itself.

A building permit (licencia) must be obtained before any building work commences. This is true even if the building does not have foundations or whether or not it will be a residential home. Prefabricated houses made from wood are also not exempt from this ruling. There is a building permit required if the works to be carried out are minor, and there is a separate permit for major works. For new builds this falls under the category of major works.

A permit for minor works is very easy to obtain. However, for major works it is much more complicated. You will need to have a ‘proyecto’ which is an architect created technical dossier. This is only valid if the architect is registered in a Spanish Architectural college. The architect needs to appoint an ‘aparejador’ or a technical architect as a site manager who will then be responsible for the building project and of course a builder will need to be appointed also. The application for the permit for major works will need to be signed by all of the professionals involved.

The application itself can be submitted in person or by registered letter, a receipt is issued and the application ill then take around 2 months on average to be processed. If approved then a ‘permiso de construir’ (building permit) will then be issued to the applicant. If notification is not received within 2 months then the licence can be automatically obtained, providing that all information originally submitted was correct and that all building regulations are complied with.

In order to find an architect the best way is to contact the local association for architects in your area, which will be listed in the yellow pages. Most architects in Spain have a professional approach to their work.


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