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What you should know before building a swimming pool at your Spanish home

Building a swimming pool at your Spanish property may not be as expensive as you thought, but there are a number of considerations to factor in first, from permits to extra costs and whether it's a worthwhile investment.

is it worth getting a swimming pool in spain
Here are some the factors you need to consider before building a pool in Spain. Photo: panoramicvillascosta / Pixabay

A pool is something that most foreigners dream of when they move to Spain and many decide to install one when they buy their property. But what does building a pool actually involve and how much will it cost you?

According to Spain’s mains home improvement company Leroy Merlin, the sale of portable pools rose by 350 percent during the first few months of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In terms of actual swimming pools built in people’s terraces and gardens, the number of construction projects that rose by 60 percent in 2020 and demand shot up by 300 percent, according to Spanish swimming pool companies Jnp Piscinas and Piscinia.

Before you go ahead and call the contractor, you have to be aware that it isn’t just a simple matter of digging a hole, lining it and filling it with water; you have to apply for planning permission, employ an architect, make it legal and consider the monthly costs, among other factors.

Despite all this, installing a swimming pool in your Spanish property will bring you improved quality of life (especially during the sweltering summer months) and you will most likely achieve a great return on investment.

1) The position of your pool is very important

Before you even begin applying for planning permission or anything else, you need to think about where to position your pool. You’ll need to make sure your garden is completely flat and not sloping in any way, otherwise, it will require a lot of extra work and money. You also need to think about nearby trees and foliage. If you build your pool too close to trees, it’s likely that you will spend all your time cleaning it as it will get filled with leaves and bugs. In addition to this, you need to make sure it gets some direct sunlight so that it can warm up naturally. 

2) You need to consider what type and material you want

There are lots of different types of swimming pools to consider. Choosing a portable pool or one that sits on top of the ground will obviously cost you considerably less than one that is dug into the ground. Similarly, prefabricated fibreglass pools that you install into the ground are significantly cheaper than ones where concrete is used. To decide which type you want, think about how much you will use it, how long you want your pool to last and how many people will use it. According to pool installation company Momentos Piscina, a gunite pool (which is one built from concrete applied through a high-pressure hose) is the most durable.

3) You will need planning permission

If you want to build a swimming pool, however big or small, you will need to apply for planning permission from your town hall or local council in order to get a licence to build your pool. Constructing a pool falls under the Obra Mayor category, which means that you will also need to pay the associated taxes and fees for this. Remember that it can take around two months for permission to be granted for this type of construction or longer if there are any issues. If you don’t get planning permission and the council finds out, you could be slapped with some hefty fines or even forced to demolish it. 

READ ALSO: Do I need planning permission in Spain and how do I apply for it?

4) You will need an architect

In order to get planning permission for an Obra Mayor, it is necessary to employ an architect to submit plans to the city council. This means that you will also need to factor in the cost of the architect’s fees too. An architect can help find the perfect spot and materials for your pool and surrounding area. For example, a wooden decking might be something that you want, but a good architect will explain why this option may cost you more in the long run, because it won’t last as long as concrete or tiles.

According to Spanish swimming pool company Proyectos Piscinas, which specialises in helping clients build pools, an architect’s fee will cost between €450 and €1500. 

5) You will need permission from the community of owners

If you live in a gated community or own the top-floor apartment in a block and want to install a rooftop pool, you will also need to get permission from the people who own the other houses or other apartments. This is because it could affect them. A rooftop pool causes lots of extra pressure and weight on top of the building that could cause structural issues for the apartments below. If building a pool in your garden, there could be issues for your neighbours due to flooding and damage to the surrounding plants because of the chlorine and various other chemicals.

Photo: panoramicvillascosta / Pixabay

6) What’s the average price of building a swimming pool in Spain?

The costs of building a swimming pool will obviously vary greatly depending on the size, the type of pool and what it’s made out of.

According to Spanish company Momentos Piscina, a gunite concrete pool of around 6m x 3m will cost you around €10,000.

Rates vary considerably according to companies and location however.

“There are some people who want to spend only between € 600 and € 1,000, when the price to build a pool ranges between €10,000 and € 15,000 ,” argues Marketing Manager at Piscinia Jesús Rodríguez.

Habitissimo also provides several estimates – from a polyester 8m x 4m pool that will set you back €16,000 to a natural stone 8m x 4m pool that will set you back €12,000, and a climatised pool that will cost you €20,000. 

If you opt for a small pool or one that uses a liner or even prefabricated fiberglass, it will work out considerably cheaper.

READ ALSO: The real cost of buying a house in Spain as a foreigner 

7) What are the maintenance costs?

There are lots of costs involved in keeping your pool clean and in working order. There are tablets to put in weekly, chemicals to balance the PH, filters to run, as well as cleaning and repairs.

According to Costa Real, it will cost between €50 and €200 to maintain each month. With the price of the chemicals and the cleaning, it costs about the same whether you do it yourself or get a company to do it for you. Many companies will charge a monthly fee to come and maintain your pool once a week. The costs will greatly depend on where in Spain you are located. For example, pool maintenance in Catalonia will cost you a lot more than pool maintenance in Alicante.

8) Your pool will need to be registered

When your pool is complete, it will need to be registered to be legal. This means registering it on the property registry known as the catastro. A notary or lawyer will be able to do this for you at an extra cost. 

This is important if you ever come to sell your property in the future and will save your problems further down the line.

9) A valuable asset for your property

The pandemic and in particular Spain’s first lockdown has seen the demand for outdoor space in Spanish properties skyrocket. As a result, homes with access to community gardens and a swimming pool have seen their price increase by 20 percent on average in 2021. 

And the trend is no different for properties that have their own swimming pool. 

In Andalusia, houses with swimming pools are now 65 percent more expensive on average than similar properties without one, according to property search giants Idealista, in the Valencia region they’re 54.4 percent more expensive, 52 percent in the Canaries and 35 percent in Murcia.


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For members


How to turn a bar, office or shop into a residential property in Spain

Commercial properties in Spain can be a lot cheaper than residential ones, but it’s not as straightforward as buying a former restaurant, office or shop and moving in. Here are the steps to follow and what you need to be aware of.

How to turn a bar, office or shop into a residential property in Spain

One of the tricks budget property hunters in Spain have been using in recent years is buying a local (commercial property), oficina (office) or nave (industrial unit) and transforming it into a vivienda (residential property) to live in or let out. 

It’s a trend that’s roughly doubled in big cities such as Madrid and Barcelona in the last five years. 

Buying a commercial property can work out to be 50 percent cheaper than a flat or house in Spain and there can be other advantages such as it being more open plan than Spain’s typical corridor-themed apartments as well having more money to invest in the renovation. 

Is it possible to turn a commercial property into a residential property in Spain?

Yes, in theory it is, but it’s not always possible. The rules relating to a change of property’s usage from commercial to residential or vice versa are determined by each municipality in Spain, so before you rush to buy un local, you have to do your homework first and be aware of some of the most common pitfalls.

It could be that the limit of residential properties per hectare has been surpassed already, or that without some major changes the property doesn’t meet the standards of size, rooms, space, height, layout, ventilation, air extraction or light of the town or city hall. 

It isn’t the most straightforward process and depending on the property and the individual municipal rules in place, it might just not be possible to live in the property or rent it out to others.

Living in a commercial property is illegal and may cause you problems such as not being able to activate water and electricity or register your padrón at the town hall.

Despite all the paperwork needed, flipping a bar or office and turning it into a home usually works out cheaper than buying a residential property in Spain. (Photo by ANDER GILLENEA / AFP)

Don’t be discouraged however, as in many cases it is possible to change the use of a property from commercial to residential and in regions such as Galicia authorities are currently facilitating the process to address the matter of empty abandoned stores and the lack of well-priced accommodation for young homeowners.

What are the steps to follow in Spain to change a property from commercial to residential?

Check the statutes of the community of owners: In order to make any changes within the community of neighbours, permission must be requested in advance. Beforehand, you can ask the comunidad president for a copy of the community statutes to see if the change of use from commercial to residential is mentioned.

READ ALSO: ‘La comunidad’ -What property owners in Spain need to know about homeowners’ associations

Request permission from the town hall: After getting the green light from la comunidad, you have to go to the ayuntamiento (town hall) of the town where the property is to find out if it’s possible to add another residential property to the finca (building). 

Even if this is confirmed, it doesn’t certify that the change of usage from commercial to residential is allowed, for which the town hall will ask you to provide an architect’s proyecto técnico or feasibility report based on municipal urban laws. You will only be allowed to swap from commercial to residential if the project meets the safety and habitability requirements of the Technical Building Code (Código Técnico de la Edificación).

Get the Building Licence: Known as licencia urbanística or permiso de construcción in Spanish, this is an official document required by the town hall for you to carry out a construction or renovation project. In other words, you’ll need this municipal authorisation to begin work on your future residential property, whether it’s major work or minor . 

Get the Certificate of Habitability: Once the renovation work is complete, you’ll need the cédula de habitabilidad to be able to move in or let the property out . The conditions for this are regulated by each regional government and again it’s an architect who must prepare a technical report in order for a town council technician to issue the certificate of habitability.

The certificate we need for the change of use is that of primera ocupación (first residential occupation), which has to include the usable surface area of ​​the home, rooms, address, location, maximum inhabitants etc.

How much does it cost to transform a commercial property into a residential one in Spain?

If for example it’s a 80m2 property with two rooms, the total would be about €50,000, according to property websites Idealista and Habitissimo, with the bulk covering renovation costs (€500/m2= €40,000) and the rest going to cover permits, architecture costs and taxes.