Having a house with an open space, more useful metres or even a swimming pool has become a priority after the COVID-19 pandemic caused a situation of isolation for millions of people. Now, buyers are looking for homes with very specific requirements, which makes them consider the possibility of buying a land and build a fully customised home.
So, is it possible building your own home in Spain? Maybe not personally, but planning your new home, designing it and finding the right people to built it is an option, and a surprising number of British and other international buyers decide to do just this in Spain.
Despite the fact that the purchase of a plot of land to subsequently build a customised home is an interesting alternative, the real estate company calls for extreme caution. While buying land and building your own home is something fairly common in other European countries, Spain hasn’t quite reached the same level as the UK, for example, when it comes to self-builds and expats may find the process in Spain rather different. Experts emphasise that opting for this route can be a complicated process and is not usually quick, which is why it recommends turning to professional advice, carrying out detailed planning and ensuring that the best possible financing is obtained.
In view of the growing emphasis on finding land for construction to suit the buyer in Spain, here is a guide with some practical advice that will enable a self-build project in Spain to be successfully completed:
1. Choosing the right land
The first thing to do for building your home in Spain, is lots of research and get searching for the perfect land plot to build you new home. However, you need to be able to differentiate between certain types of land, as you won’t be able to build on all types.
When searching for land in Spain, you will generally come across “suelo rústico“, a type of land that does not usually have the necessary infrastructure (electricity and water supplies, drainage, etc.) and is not suitable for building. On the other hand, “suelo urbano” or “urbanizable” is what you’re looking for to build a house in Spain: for its part, urban or buildable land already has these basic provisions, and this land for development appears in the urban development plan as being approved for construction, although it requires the prior development of a Partial Plan and a redevelopment project in order to be built on.
In addition to the land, it is also necessary to pay attention to other parameters such as the percentage of occupation (part of the plot that is allowed to be occupied by the building) and the buildability (maximum m2 that the house can occupy).
2. Seek the advice of an expert
Once you have selected a land plot to build on, it is necessary to seek professional advice. Choose an architect to examine the plot ‘in situ’ and assess whether it has possibilities; that is, whether it has good access, orientation and look at the slope of the land, whether it is the right size and has the right surface to build on, etc.
He/she will also be able to provide a general estimate of the building costs, which will help to establish the first contacts with the banks to propose a mortgage, and, of course, will be in charge of the project.
It is also advisable to have the legal advice of a lawyer, who will give advice at all stages of the process and indicate the steps to be taken at each moment.
3. The preliminary steps
A visit to the Land Registry will allow you to request a “nota simple” to know if the land has any previous charges or debts. A “nota simple” is basically a short legal report of the property (whether its a garage, dwelling, store room. land plot etc.) obtained only from the Land Registry, also known in English as a Property Registry Filing.
The next step will be to contact the Cadastre to provide a descriptive and graphic cadastral certification, so that it will be possible to check that the data in both registers coincide. Finally, it is necessary to go to the corresponding town hall to consult the current town planning regulations. “This consultation is fundamental since, depending on the legislation, the design of the future house could suffer considerable variations (height, number of floors…)”.
In general, banks do not grant mortgages for the purchase of land, so the best thing to do would be to apply for a loan or re-mortgage your current home. However, in general in Spain it is possible to apply for a self-build mortgage which, as its name suggests, will serve to finance the construction of the home.
“This type of mortgage is normally divided into three sections: the initial phase (after approval, so that work can begin), the certification phase (as construction continues) and the completion phase (once the property is finished). In general, these operations cover 80% of the budget if it is a first home and its term does not usually exceed 30 years of repayment”, specifies the real estate company.
On the other hand, it is worth bearing in mind that for the entity to grant this type of loan, it is necessary to previously present the certificate of ownership of the land, the construction license, the project, the execution budget and the energy efficiency certificate, in addition to the fact that the client must comply with the solvency requirements to obtain the loan.
The time needed to complete a self-build project in Spain is usually about two years. In order to avoid it being prolonged and costs skyrocketing, the experts consider it essential to carry out “a detailed planning of the budget and timescale, as well as a studied coordination of the professionals (architect, construction team…) involved in each of the stages”.