How to Build Your Dream Home in Spain Without Having a Nightmare
The Costa Blanca housing market offers all types of wonderful homes, some older, some new build. But sometimes you just want to create your own, in which case there is another option: building your own villa.
Could you build your own villa in Spain?
The answer is YES but this can be a complicated process and is not usually quick. The Spanish way of doing business can make building your own home a nightmare and could be fraught with a lot of problems. But if you make good choices and hire the right people, building your own dreams home doesn’t have to turn into a bad dream. That is why turning to professional advice is a very good idea.
You will probably need the help of a professional to help you choose and buy the right land, plan and design your future home, select a suitable building company, manage, administrate and supervise the construction and, finally, take care of all the paperwork needed to register the house in your favour at the Land Registry and obtain all the necessary permissions to be able to live in it and contract the supply of services such as water, electricity or gas.
The plot of land
If you do not already own a plot of land, the first and very important step is to choose and buy the right land to build the house of your dreams. You should bear in mind that in Spain it is not possible to build a house on all types of land and that, depending on the type of land in question, for example ‘rustic’ or ‘urban’, there are different limitations in terms of what can be built, its height, its surface area, etc.
In order to choose the land on which you are going to build your house, it is essential that you have the advice of a good lawyer expert in urban planning with experience in this type of transaction. This will help you avoid unpleasant surprises, such as the possibility that the land is too small to build your dream home on, or that a road or highway is planned to be built across your land in four or five years’ time.
Never believe an owner or estate agent keen to sell you a plot who says there will be ‘no problem’ getting planning permission. All too often, foreign buyers have found themselves the proud owners of a plot they cannot build on or they can not build the house they want or they may need to pay extra to improve the local infrastructure.
As the casuistry is very varied and sometimes extremely complex, we will deal with this subject in depth in one of our posts. Let’s start from the assumption that you already own the right land to build the house of your dreams.
You already own the land, what is the next step?
Once you own the land, the next step is to choose an architect who will advise you on its technical possibilities according to yhe plot size, orientation, configuration, etc. and design your future house according to your needs and personal tastes. You can choose this architect personally or by referral from a friend who has successfully used his services. Another option is to ask ALTEAINVEST to help you select the most suitable architect for you depending on the type of house you want to build.
Your architect will prepare the plans of your future house, provide you with a preliminary estimate of the construction costs and then technically supervise the execution of the works.
Architects’ fees are usually calculated as a percentage of the total costs of the building works, usually between 5 and 8 per cent. Around 70 per cent of an architect’s fees are payable when a building is started, the balance becoming due upon completion when the ‘certificado de fin de obra’ (certificate of new work) is issued.
The municipal building permit
Once the architect has drawn up the plans for your future home you will need to obtain the necessary building permission from the local council in whose municipality the land on which the house is to be built is located.
It is possible that your architect will be in charge of presenting the project to the Town Hall and of the necessary procedures to obtain the licence, but it is also possible that sometimes, especially if the chosen architect is not used to working in the place where the land is located, unforeseen circumstances may arise that require the intervention of a lawyer specialised in urban planning matters to resolve them. In these cases, you can count on the help of the professionals at ALTEAINVEST, with extensive experience in resolving possible legal or town planning incidents.
The construction company
It is a no-brainer to say that you need a good construction company to build your house. If you get it wrong when choosing a builder you are lost.
When looking for a builder it’s advisable to obtain recommendations from local people you can trust, e.g. a bank manager, a lawyer or a reputable estate agent. Note, however, that estate agents aren’t always the best people to ask, as they may receive a commission. That could cost you thousands of euros but that would not be the biggest problem in case the recommended builder is not an honest builder or is not able to build the house to the required quality or to meet the agreed deadlines, which is unfortunately quite often the case. ALTEAINVEST DOES NOT ASK FOR OR ACCEPT COMMISSIONS OF ANY KIND FROM BUILDERS.
Your architect maybe can recommend a number of reliable builders. However, you should be wary of an architect with his ‘own’ builder (or a builder with his own architect), as it’s the architect’s job to ensure that the builder does his work according to the plans and specifications, so you don’t want their relationship to be too cosy.
You should obtain written quotations (‘presupuestos’) from a number of builders before signing a contract. Building standards in Spain vary considerably and you shouldn’t assume that the lowest offer is the best value. Your best insurance when building a property is the reputation of the builder.
Another important aspect when choosing a builder is his solvency to be able to cope with his possible mistakes not only during construction but also afterwards as Spanish law requires a builder to guarantee his work against structural defects for ten years. The builder will also be liable for damages caused to the building by faults or defects in the constructive elements or services which result in the building failing to meet habitability requirements during a period of three years and will likewise be liable for damages due to construction faults or defects affecting elements of the finish work for a period of one year. If you chose an unserious or unreliable builder, you will simply be left without this guarantee.
After more than 40 years living and working in Altea, we at ALTEAINVEST know many builders, good and bad, and we know the ‘tricks’ that some of them use to hide future costs or inflate budgets. We also know very well how to read the ‘small print’ of quotations and what to look out for in order to analyse them in depth and compare them with each other. We also know who does or does not meet their deadlines and other commitments.
The contract for the execution of the work
Once the ideal builder has been chosen for the type of house to be built, it is essential to prepare a good contract. Not just any contract will do, it must be a good contract drawn up by a specialised lawyer with extensive legal and practical experience in this type of contract, whether it is a lump sum contract or a ‘management’ construction contract. Note that the costs can escalate wildly due to contract clauses and changes made during building work.
One of the most important elements of constructing a villa is the building contract with the builder. The builder will always try to protect his interests, and if you are not experienced with these type of contracts your property can end up being of a fare less quality than expected, or take twice as long as promised or even worse.
At ALTEAINVEST we have prepared hundreds of construction contracts and we know exactly what needs to be included in them to ensure that there will be no problems or, in the worst case, to be able to resolve them easily and quickly, as unfortunately it isn’t uncommon to have problems during construction.
Supervision and administration of construction Works
Your architect and technical architect (‘aparejador’) and sometimes an engineer or structural professional will oversee the technical aspects of the building work but, even if you have chosen a great builder, there are other details that without an extra close personal supervision by you or a professional you trust it’s highly likely that something will not be quite as finished as you would like it to be.
If you want your house to be finished to your liking, especially when it comes to the finishing touches, ideally you should visit the building site yourself regularly, at least a couple of times a week, but if you can’t or don’t want to dedicate time to this task or if you simply need someone to help you, you can hire our building supervision and management service.
Our service of supervision and management of the construction works of your house not only covers the essential visits to the construction site for its proper supervision according to your requirements but also, among others, the following services:
- Accompanying you to choose the materials for your future home, especially the finishing or decorative materials such as floors, doors, windows, bathroom fittings, taps, electrical switches, paints, kitchen furniture, etc. to the shops or distributors’ warehouses of your choice or those that we can recommend to you.
- Obtaining important discounts when buying materials, which could mean a saving of up to 35% of the price.
- Requesting partial building work certifications from the architect.
- Management of partial payments to the builder, always after accreditation of the work carried out and its due execution by means of the corresponding work certifications signed by yur architect. The operation of these partial payments can be carried out in two ways, at your choice: by direct transfer from your bank account to that of the builder once you receive our notices with the ‘go-ahead’ or, if it is more convenient for you, through our client’s bank account after the deposit of the corresponding provision of funds.
Formalities and documents
Our villa construction supervision and administration service also includes the necessary paperwork to obtain the necessary documentation to be able to enjoy your future home and register it in your favour in the Land Registry. Among other documents and procedures, it includes assistance for the following:
Final construction certifícate
Plumbing and electricity bulletins, necessary to contract these supplies
First Occupancy Licence
Certificate of occupancy, so that you can occupy your home
Deed of Declaration of New Construction
Registration of your new home in the Land Registry
Arrangements for contracting supplies and services such as water, electricity, gas, internet, etc.
Before you get those documetns, what you have a is a construction, but not a “house”. We know the area, we know the architects, also the Town Hall, and we will obtain those documents much faster and cheaper than you.
Our supervision and administration service for the construction of your villa
At ALTEAINVEST we’ve created a tailor-made, personalised service, designed to suit private individuals who wish to build their own villa.
Have your home building perfectly planned, fully supervised from the project beggining, to costs, to the standards you require, to deliver in time,. Let us serving as your representative and holding every step of the way to make sure you get what you want and provide you full peace of mind. As lawyers and API, we will give you advice at all stages of the building process and report you the steps to be taken at each moment.
For a very reasonable fee let ALTEAINVEST guide you from start to finish through teh whole process of building your very own custom-built house. You can be sure that the ALTEAINVEST building administration service ensures that every stage of your project is well-managed, that you are kept informed and achieve the outcome you were hoping for.