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Property in Spain: How much does it actually cost to build a house?

If you plan to build a house in Spain, there are many costs to factor in that go beyond the obvious land price, architect fees and building expenses. Before you decide to go ahead with your build, it's important to consider how much it's actually going to set you back.

Property in Spain: How much does it actually cost to build a house?
Photo: Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay

Buying the land

One of the most important aspects of building your own home is the land. Land prices vary greatly throughout Spain, depending on which region you want to buy in, if the site is inland or on the coast, and the other types of buildings already in the area. Besides the price of the actual land however, there are several extra costs associated with it that you may not have taken into consideration before.

The first extra you might need is a topographic study, which involves a topographer coming to the site to draw a plan of where the house is going to be built. They will assess if any land needs to be moved in order for a house to be able to built safely in that location. According to SpanishArchitect.info, this will cost you around €400.

The second is a geotechnical report from a geologist, which looks at the characteristics of the land and can help calculate the foundations needed for the house. SpanishArchitect.info says this report will set you back around €800.

Keep in mind as well that the terreno (plot of land) you buy should be urbano (urban) or urbanizable (buildable); the first means the town hall has given permission for a propert to be built there whereas the latter theoretically has the permit but not necessarily the right water and electricity access for building to begin immediately, which could also mean extra costs and waiting. Do not buy a terreno rústico (rustic plot) as it is meant for agricultural and not residential purposes so your local ayuntamiento (town hall) is unlikely to change its mind on this front. 

Hiring an architect

Hiring an architect is an essential part of building your own home. There is only one established professional body of architects in Spain, which is the College of Architects CSCAE. However, they have various other groups around the country.

Architect fees in Spain can vary wildly, depending on their experience, design style and location. But most of all, it will depend on what type of house you want, whether it’s something basic or luxurious. The architect will provide you with a preliminary design of the house, which is revised until you are finally happy with the way it looks.

Once you are happy with the look of the design, the architect will carry out a detailed project looking at all the structural calculations and what’s known as the bill of quantities, which shows all the necessary structures and installations to be carried out in order to fulfill the design.

According to SpanishArchitect.info, architect’s fees cost around 5 to 7 percent of the total cost of construction of the property, however, Spain Property Guides, says you should expect to pay around 10 percent. 

SpanishArchitect.info states that people should keep in mind that houses with unique features such as big terraces or undulating facades will cost more. Flat roofs are generally much cheaper than sloped roofs and adding a basement can add on a lot of extra cost too. 

Find hundreds of move-in ready homes in Spain on The Local’s property listings page

Hiring an architect in Spain. Photo: Lorenzo Cafaro / Pixabay

Building license

In order to carry out your project, you will need to apply for a building licence with the local authorities. Spain Property Guides says: “The cost of a licence to build varies from region to region, but budget in the region of 3 percent to 4 percent of the projected cost of the construction. If therefore, your house is going to cost €350,000 to build, you’ll be paying at least €10,000 for the licence”.

According to SpanishArchitect.info, you must also pay a deposit for waste management and demolition, but you will get this back when the project is complete.  

Fees before works begin

When budgeting for your property it’s important to take everything into consideration, including the associated taxes involved. Before building begins, you will be expected to pay Tax on Constructions, Installations and Works, known as ICIO to your local town hall.

Property newsite Expansión Inmobiliario says this will cost you 3 to 5 percent of the total budget for construction. They also state that “You will need to pay VAT, which for individuals is 10 percent, a cost that must be paid monthly as the work progresses”.

Construction

According to SpanishArchitect.info, the average construction costs in Spain have risen a lot in 2020 and range from around €1,100 per square metre to €1,500/sqm. However, this is using standard materials and doesn’t take into account expensive finishes.

The construction will need to be supervised by your architect, as well as a building engineer, who will also be in charge of health and safety on site. SpanishArchitect.info states that fees for the building engineer typically cost around 1.5 to 3 percent of the total cost of construction.

Building a house in Spain. Photo: Borko Manigoda / Pixabay

Taxes and fees after completion

When your dream house is finally complete, there are yet more fees to pay in taxes. You will need to hire a notary to draw up the deeds and register your property for the first time in the Land Registry. Expansión Inmobiliario states that both of these will cost you 0.5 percent of the total value of the house.

Before you can legally live in your property, there is yet another fee to pay – the license for the first occupation or Tasa de licencia de primera ocupación, which according to Expansión Inmobiliario will cost you 0.5 to 1 percent of the total budget.

You will also need to pay the Impuesto de Actos Jurídicos Documentados por declaración de obra nueva, which is the fee you need to pay to declare a new building.  This will reportedly cost you 1.5 percent of the cost of your new build.

Finally, you will have to apply for a habitation certificate or cédula de habitabilidad, which shows that the property is habitable. For this, you will need to pay fees to connect your water and electricity. According to SpanishArchitect.info, this could cost you around €200 to connect each utility.

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PROPERTY

EXPLAINED: What you need to know about locksmiths in Spain

If you get locked out, have a break-in or need to change or fix the door lock at your home in Spain, here are the rates and advice you need before calling a Spanish locksmith (cerrajero).

EXPLAINED: What you need to know about locksmiths in Spain

Like anywhere, locksmiths are generally expensive and the price can vary greatly depending on the service you need and where you are.

It also depends on when you need them, as it’ll cost much more to call them out on a Saturday night than a Monday morning, for example.

Nor would it cost the same to open your front door as it would a reinforced security door.

But locksmiths don’t just make copies of keys and bail you out when you’re stuck outside your flat.

They also offer a whole host of different services including, but not limited to, opening safes, creating master keys, installing security doors, anti-drill doors, cutting specialist locks that reject copied keys, and even unlocking the boot of your car.

How much does a locksmith cost in Spain?

Given all these variables, the price can range massively.

According to Cronoshare, the average price for a nationwide call out in Spain can start from €80 anywhere up to €400.

On average, for a basic service, you can expect to pay anywhere between €40-€70 an hour for the labour, with the price of changing or installing a basic lock anywhere between €80-€200. 

For basic door openings, it depends on the situation you find yourself in: for doors locked with a key, which is a more complex task, prices average around €200, and for doors that are jammed or slammed shut, slightly cheaper in the €80-€100 range.

For an armoured or security door, prices can start at around €300.

In short, a general rule is that the more complex the task is, the higher the prices.

And as always, prices can vary depending on where you are in Spain, the quality of the locksmith, the time of the day and week you need his or her services, and if its a public holiday or not. 

So, as always, compare prices to try and find the most economical solution without skimping on quality.

As such, the following rates are estimations taken from average prices from locksmith.

Weekend/holiday rates

Where prices can really start to add up, however, is when you have an emergency situation requiring a locksmith’s assistance at the weekend, on a public holiday, or outside of normal working hours.

And if you live in Spain, you probably know there’s quite a few of those days throughout the year.

If you really need a cerrajero on a public holiday or during non-working hours (usually defined as anything between 8pm-8am) prices can reach €300 or €500 due to the fact you’ll have to cover the cost of travel, which starts from around €40 plus the increased rate.

Then you must also include the price of labour to the flat rate, which is usually somewhere between €40 and €70 an hour regardless of when you call them out.

Key vocabulary 

We’ve put together some of the basic vocabulary you might need if you find yourself needing a locksmith while in Spain.

el cerrajero – locksmith

la llave – the key

la llave de repuesto – the spare key

la puerta – the door

la cerradura – the lock

la bisagra – the hinge

día festivo – public holiday

cambio de bombín – change of cylinder lock

puerta blindada – armoured door

coste de mano de obra – labour costs

quedarse afuera – get locked out 

puerta cerrada de un portazo – door slammed shut

puerta cerrada con llave – locked door

Tips relating to choosing a good locksmith in Spain 

If you’ve just started renting a new place or have bought a property, it’s advisable to change the lock as you don’t know who has keys to your front door. If you’re a tenant, try to negotiate this with your landlord as it’s in both of your interests that only you two have keys to the property.

If there has been a burglary in your property while you’re living in it and there’s no sign of forced entry, then there’s a very big chance that the burglars had a copy of your keys, and you should definitely change the locks. 

If you’ve lost your keys and you think it happened close to your home, again it’s advisable for you to change the locks.

One of the best ways to avoid being locked out and having to cough up a hefty sum is to give a spare set to someone that you trust that lives in your town or city in Spain. 

When it comes to choosing a locksmith in Spain, you should make sure he or she is a reputable one. Asking friends and family first can be your first port of call.

If not, make sure you read reviews online if available to get any insight beforehand.

In order to avoid any nasty surprises, ask them on the phone for a budget (presupuesto) for all the costs attached to their services before accepting.

Be wary of cerrajeros that automatically want to change the whole lock when a simpler and less costly option is possible. 

Usually they should offer you a contract for you to read carefully before signing. It should include a three-month guarantee for the potential new lock or at least a breakdown of the costs.

Make sure that they are not charging you an excessively high price if it’s an emergency, as this is not actually legal.

There’s also asking them to prove their accreditation with the Unión Cerrajeros de Seguridad (UCES).

Weekend and holiday rates can be higher nonetheless, so consider your options and if it’s worth staying with a friend or family member for a night to save some money. A trustworthy and honest cerrajero will let you know about the money you could save if you choose to wait as well.

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