DIY building in Spain: 8 steps

Building yourself in Spain: many Belgians choose to build their own Spanish casa, which meets Belgian standards and norms. However, the building process is different from that in Belgium or the Netherlands and is often perceived as an administrative tangle. This article will discuss the building process in Spain step by step.

Step 1: Finding a suitable building plot

Finding a good building plot is the first and most important step. After all, your options will depend on the zoning plan and municipal building standards. In a previous article, we already discussed buying a building plot in detail.

Read more about buying a building plot in Spain.

Step 2: Appointing an architect

An architect will first make a preliminary draft (Anteproyecto) draw up. He will also assist you in obtaining planning permission.

From the time you approve the preliminary draft, a basic design (Proyecto Básico) compiled to submit the permit application to the municipality (Departamento de Urbanismo/ Concejalía de Urbanismo). The basic design is then basically a general description of the project, with floor plans and the technical aspects.

After preliminary approval of the basic design by the municipality, a final design (Proyecto Ejecución) submitted. The final design is more detailed and also shows that your building plans comply with urban planning requirements. For smaller projects, the basic design and the final design are usually combined into one document.

After approval of the final design, you will receive the final authorisation (La Licencia de Obras). Upon obtaining the licence, you will pay a municipal tax (Impuesto sobre Construcciones, Instalaciones y Obras) of +- 3% of the construction cost.

An architect's fees amount to +- 10% of the construction cost.

Step 3: Appoint a contractor

Finding a good contractor in Spain (and abroad in general) is best done on the basis of references. What projects has the contractor already completed? Are the previous promoters satisfied? What is the contractor's reputation in the market?

In addition, a conclusive building contract is crucial. Not only the price (what is included) and payment terms play an important role here, but you should also ask for clear guarantees for correct and timely delivery.

Read more about appointing a construction company in Spain.

Step 4: The execution of the works

Your architect will continue to monitor the contractor's works (Supervisión Técnica de la Obra). He will also prepare a technical materials list (Memoria de calidades).

In this way, the architect supervises the correct progress of the works in accordance with the final design. In doing so, he can also involve an engineer-architect (Aparejador) appoint. This person supervises the actual works and checks the contractor's performance.

Step 5: Delivery of the works

Before the contractor invites you to the provisional handover, your architect will confirm that the house was built according to the building permit (Certificado de final de Obra).

Once this document has been delivered, you can obtain the certificate of conformity from the municipality (Cédula de Habitabilidad /Licencia de Primera Ocupación). With the conformity certificate, you demonstrate that the construction complies with local housing standards. Without this document, it is basically not possible to connect utilities.

Finally, you must have the water and electricity installations inspected. You will then receive a certificate proving that the installations were installed in accordance with current standards (Boletín de Instalación Electrico, Boletín de Instalación de Agua).

We advise our clients who are self-building in Spain to obtain these documents before allowing provisional completion.

Read more about the conformity certificate.

Step 6: Building yourself in Spain: ten-year liability?

Basically, as a promoter of a new-build property, you should have a 10-year liability insurance policy (Seguro Decenal) insurance for structural defects that may affect the stability of the house. Such insurance costs +- 0.5% of the value of the structure.

However, if you are building a property to live in yourself, you are a "Car promoter". You do not then have to take out 10-year liability insurance. But if you ever decide to sell, you are required to inform potential buyers that you are not insured. An intelligent buyer may use the lack of the 10-year liability insurance to haggle off the price.

Read more about the rules on hidden and visible defects in a property in Spain.

Step 7: The notarial deed

To finalise the construction process, you need to register the structure in the property register. This is done through a notarial deed (Declaración de Obra Nueva). This notarial deed will also include the following documents:

  • the final draft (Proyecto Ejecución);
  • the building permit (La Licencia de Obras);
  • the completion certificate (Certificado de final de Obra);
  • the certificate of conformity (Licencia de Primera Ocupación);
  • The ten-year liability insurance (Seguro Decenal) or your statement that you are not taking out insurance.

After the deed is notarised, you will pay a stamp duty of 1.5% to 2% on the value of the construction, depending on the autonomous region.

Finally, you need to declare the property in the land registry so that you can pay IBI (municipal tax/real estate tax) within a few years.

Read more about the difference between the property register and the land registry.

Step 8: connection of utilities

Finally, in the last step, you can conclude the contracts for water and electricity with the utility companies. For this, you will need the inspection certificates (Boletín de Instalación Electrico, Boletín de Instalación de Agua) needed.

Important: Spanish capital gains tax

Please note that there is a capital gains tax in Spain. To calculate correct capital gains, it is important that your NIE number is mentioned on all your invoices.

Read more about capital gains tax when building your own home.

Conclusion: get guidance

Building yourself in Spain is no easy task. It is important that you first find a suitable plot of land on which to build according to your wishes. Once you have bought the plot, it is best to work on the basis of references for the selection of contractors and architects. That is why you should also have conclusive contracts drawn up, so that you have guarantees for correct completion.

Do you have questions about self-building in Spain? Feel free to contact on.

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