A Spanish architect’s step-by-step guide to building a home in Spain

building a house in Spain
One of the documents you'll need is a Plan de Seguridad (security plan) for builders to be able to start work on building your home, Photo: Nacho/Flickr
So you want to build your own house in Spain? The Local speaks with a Spanish architect who runs a construction company to get the lowdown on hidden steps, paperwork and permits.

What are all the crucial and sometimes unknown steps involved in building a home from scratch in Spain?

The Local spoke with Pere Linares, CEO of House Habitat, a Barcelona-based company helping people to build eco-friendly and healthy homes across Catalonia and the Balearic Islands, to find out. 

  1. Buying your plot of land

The first step is to select and buy a plot of land. You will need to make sure there are no outstanding charges on the land.

Check with the municipality what the conditions are for building on that particular plot, different places apply different construction rules depending on whether the land is urbano, urbanizable or rústico

Once the land has been purchased you will need to go to your city or local council again to request the urban planning file.

This is a document that is valid for six months that allows your project to take place. It contains data on the area you can build on, as well as the general characteristics of the plot.

READ ALSO – Property in Spain: What’s it like to build your own house?

2. The Project

To start developing the project it will be necessary to have two things:

  • A geotechnical survey– showing the properties and characteristics can of the land so you can create the most suitable foundation.
  • A topographic survey– so you know the precise limitations of the terrain and its unevenness, which may need to be corrected.

Some municipalities also ask for a “As built” topographic survey, which you get once the work is finished.

You then need to find an architect and a construction company. These two parties will work together to create an executive project, including all the structural calculations and plans.  

If you find a construction company first, they may be able to help you find an architect who can bring your plans to life.

Once the basic project has been defined and accepted by you, the construction company and architect can start working out all the finer details for you to be able to get your licencia de obras or building permit.

For this, you will usually have to pay your architect 20 percent of the total fee.

3. Licencia de Obras

In order to start construction on your house, you will need a licencia de obras or building licence from the Urban Planning department of your corresponding city council, together with the basic project or executive project.

The process requires completing several administrative documents and paying the corresponding fees. These rates are dictated by each city council and are normally between three to four percent of the PEM (Presupuesto de Ejecución Material) or the budget you have for materials.  

On top of this, you will have to pay another two percent which is collected by each municipality for recycling and waste management during the project. This will be returned to you at the end of the building works.  

You may also need to pay more fees, which vary according to your city council, the plot and the type of project. This may be for things such as the planting of trees to replace the ones that you took out and can make your budget go up by around €10,000 or €12,000.  

Be aware that it can take anywhere from one month to 10 months in order to get your licence granted.  

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

What documents do you need to finally be able to live in your home? Photo: Dan Gold / Unsplash

4. Building Process

Before starting on the construction of your house, you will need to assign a project management team, made up of your architect, the technical architect and the security coordinator (which can also be done by the technical architect). They will be in charge of everything from making sure the designs are carried out to checking the safety of the structure, quality control and carrying out calculations and measurements.  

They will also help organise certificates for banks, notaries, which are included as technical fees in your project.

It is also necessary to have a Plan de Seguridad (security plan). This can be organised by your construction company. Once approved by the technician, you can begin the Apertura del Centro de Trabajo (starting the work).  

You must also request and make payments for electricity and water connections so that your builders can perform their jobs correctly.  

Once the previous procedures have been carried out, the Acta de Replanteo document can be signed by all parties involved and work can begin. During the work process, weekly site visits will be made with all the technicians mentioned above, to define, check and plan all the work to be carried out. At each site visit, the surveyor will have to make a record of all the instructions for the day.  

5. The completion of your house 

Once the house is finished, the following documentation must be provided to your city council: 

  • Final Work Certificate: Document signed by the architect and technical architect, certifying that the work is finished.
  • Liquidation of Work: Document signed by the architect where the cost of execution of the work is certified.
  • End of Security Coordination: Document endorsed by the college of technical architects.
  • Quality control: During the course of the work, the technical architect must assess that all building materials are of high quality and are safe. 
  • Finalisation: Everything will be formally finalised and your house handed over to you once the final certified work certificate is available. This is a document which the city council and the notaries need to guarantee the completion of the work.
  • Building Book: Document detailing the definitive characteristics of the house, as well as its maintenance. This is drawn up by the architect. 
  • As Built Plans: These are the final plans, which agree with the work carried out. They serve as a guide to solve any potential issues down the line.

When all the previous documents have been delivered, you must register your property in the alta cadastral 902. Once completed, you can request your Licencia de Primera Ocupación (First Occupation License) from the city council. This guarantees that the house has been made according to the plans and is suitable to live in. To verify this, the they will conduct an inspection of your home and if they find everything is in order, will grant you a license. 

Once you have this licence, you can request the Cédula de habitabilidad or Certificate of habitability, where it is certified that the house meets the conditions of habitability established by law. This last document is used to request that services be connected to your house. It’s important to remember that the final NOTARIAL or REGISTRY certificate cannot be signed until the Licencia de Primera Ocupación, the Cédula de habitabilidad and the CEE label have all been granted.

Properties in Spain

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