Self-build in Spain: buying a building plot

If you are planning to build your own home in Spain, the choice of building land will be crucial for the further progress of your project. Building yourself in Spain is therefore not without risk. The urban planning rules in Spain differ considerably from Belgian legislation. This article will therefore in five steps explaining what to look out for when buying a building plot in Spain.

1. Are you allowed to build? Land classification

For example, you are considering the purchase of a large piece of land of around 10,000 to 20,000 m2. First of all, it is important that you do have legal building rights. Land in Spain is divided into two general categories: "'urbano" and "rustico". These categories are then divided into several subcategories. This contribution will limit itself to the general categories.  

Urbanised zone

In a zone urbano or an urbanised zone, the essential infrastructure for living is in place. Think asphalted roads, connection to the sewerage system, street lighting, water and electricity, etc. The zoning plan can then provide for building here for residential purposes. This is similar to a residential zone in Belgium.

Rustic zone

In a zone rustico or rustic zone (e.g. agricultural land) is usually not allowed to build for residential or commercial purposes. However, exceptions are possible. For example, you may be allowed to build on between 2 to 4% of the area. You will then need a large piece of land.

However, obtaining a licence is not easy. On the one hand, local authorities can impose their own rules. On the other hand, the interpretation of regional and national rules may differ from region to region. Also, for rustic areas, you need to obtain a permit from both the local (municipal) government and the regional government.

There are also urbanisable areas. These are usually rustic areas that have undergone a zoning change and can now be redeveloped.

It is therefore important to know before purchase which zone the piece of land is located in. After all, a land located in a rustic zone will make legal construction difficult or even prevent it.

Read more about buying in the Spanish interior.

2. How much land are you buying? Unclear about the number of area.

In a second step, you should clarify the number of area and the demarcation of the domain. After all, the area of land may be incorrectly posted. Also, the indication of the number of area in the land register may be different in the property register or deed.

For land without a fence, this can lead to discussions with neighbours. Natural features (trees, canals, etc.) should then be considered to delineate the boundary.

Lack of clarity about the amount of surface area also has an impact on obtaining planning permission. Often, Spanish municipalities set a minimum area. For example, if the building plot is 400 m2, while the municipality stipulates that a plot must be at least 560 m2, you cannot build.

Read more about common problems when buying in rural areas.

3. How are you allowed to build? Local building rules

The next step is knowing what rules and requirements the future house must comply with. Often, you can only build on a certain number of square metres. In urbanised areas, this may be 30%, for example. In addition, there may be restrictions on the height of the structure, basement, swimming pools, etc. There may also be style requirements.

4. Can construction take place? Topographical and geotechnical survey

The fourth step is a topographical study (slopes) and a geotechnical study (soil bearing capacity). This will allow you to know to what extent you can build effectively. After all, in Spain, the subsoil of the land may not be suitable for building.

5. What are your neighbours' rights? Easements

In a fifth step, especially for rustic areas, there may be an easement on the land. Consider, for example, a right of way. This is common in agricultural areas.

Building in Spain: decision

To safeguard your project in Spain, it is important to have the land surveyed before purchase. That is why it is not advisable to sign the compromise immediately, but first, for example, a reservation contract up.

Note: you may pay 21% VAT on the purchase of a building plot instead of local registration fees.

Are you considering self-building in Spain? Here, we explain the construction process in 8 steps.

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