Building your own house in Spain. Construction process

Building your own house

Building your own house in Spain is a long complicated procedure. This article will help you to understand the most important steps you will need to undertake.


Building your own house in Spain. Construction process

Building your own house step by step

The architect

Once you have purchased your plot of land, it is very important to pay attention to the engagement of an architect. Once you have engaged your architect you can express in black and white what you want in relation to the spaces of your building or home if you have cleared your prerequisites. If not, an inexplicit description should be sufficient for your architect understand your need. I normally ask my clients to also send us pictures of the style they are looking for and also of what they hate! In this case the say that a picture is worth thousand words it is very pertinent.

Here in Spain only registered architects can design residential buildings so it is very important that the architect must be registered at any of  the reginal Official College of Architects.

Then you need to agree with him what exactly he is responsible for, timescales, and costs of the buildings. The architect’s fee includes the preparation of the “memoria de calidades” (The specification of all finishes and materials used in the project). It has to be in detailed, including for example the type of concrete, the type of materials, the calculation of all installations, plans, etc.

The architect will instruct an “aparejador”, a qualified architectural engineer, who will supervise the building, carrying out onsite inspections, and ensure the building is built following the required standards. Once the building is finished and together with the architect, the “Certificado Final de Obra” (Completion Certificate – or Final Works License), will be issued and obtain from the local town hall the “Licencia de Primera Ocupación” (also called the First Occupation License or Habitation Certificate).

Find a reliable builder.

Your architect may accept responsibility for this, and for the site supervision. You need to agree a completion date, with a penalty clause in your favour for late completion. This needs to be incorporated into a legally binding contract to be agreed with the builder.


“Seguro Decenal” or Ten years guarantee

Also, in this point is very important for you to consider what is called SEGURO DECENAL or TEN YEARS INSURANCE.

When you buy off-plan from a Spanish builder or developer, the builder or developer, must guarantee you that the structure will be guaranteed at least for ten years.

In order to confirm this responsibility, the Spanish building regulations forces the developers of new buildings to present to the purchaser an insurance for the foundations, and structure. Other defects affecting the habitability of the property are predicted to be covered for 3 years in the future as any defects on the finishes which may be covered directly by the contractor for 1 year. However, the insurance of these parts of the buildings are not compulsory to be provided by the developer or contractor as yet, but obviously if a builder can offer this as an additional guarantee, it will be better.

So, the Spanish Ten Years Insurance (or “Seguro Decenal”) is obligatory and compulsory when the developer is a company with an activity of building houses for sale.

But it is voluntary when the developer (usually the owner of the plot) is building for himself, . This is called in Spain “Auto-promotor”, translated as “Self-developer”. This is the case a person buys a land in Spain with the intention to build a house for himself, but he has not the activity of building for then sale. In these cases, Spanish laws gives the option to these individual not to apply for this insurance, because the Spanish Government understand that, an individual does not need to guarantee himself the construction.

But, if you, as self-developer decides not to apply for this insurance, in the future, if you decided to sell the house to other buyers, Spanish Laws force you to inform the eventual buyers that the construction is not covered with this guaranty, and they must expressly accept this as an essential condition from the sale. From the point of view of an eventual buyer, it will be always a better option to buy a property with this insurance. So, they must be duly informed, and they must confirm, that the property is not with any insurance in this way.


Building your own house in Spain. Construction process


The builder:

As a self-developer, you must contract the services of a builder to carry out  the construction as per the project for which building license was obtained nd following the instructions provided by the architect. One of the most important elements of constructing a property is the building contract . The builder will always try to protect his interests, and if you are not experienced with these types of contracts your property can end up being of a fare less quality than expected, or take twice as long as promised or even worse.

To protect yourself always make sure that your Solicitor draws up the contract or directly negotiates the contract proposed by the builder.

The most important elements of the contract are to make sure that the contract considers:

· The full name and CIF number (Tax number of the company) of the constructing company, and the owner are included.

· That the construction will be built as per the project and building description provided by the architect, and also including a detailed list of materials and qualities (“memoria de calidades”).

· That extra (such as garage or pool, etc) are included the price

· That a start and termination date are included in the contract, considering also penalties for late completion.

· Payment terms. Normally there is a down payment before the project commences around 10-15% before the starting date of the construction and the rest of the payments are made in monthly payments during the construction. It is also recommended to retain 5-10% of the quoted price to repair any hidden defects after the building is finished).

· That certificates from the architect, electricians and the town hall have to be given on the last payment.

Other aspect we recommend to be agreed with the builder:

· To ensure that the builder will organize the final steps of the process regarding documentation. It means that the builder will collaborate with the architect so that the Certificate of Final Works (“Certificado Final de Obras”), can be issued. That is a crucial document to later obtain from the town hall the License of Occupation – Certificate of Habitation (“Cédula de Habitabilidad”). These items are extremely important in rustic land, in which is not common to find enough electric or water points of connection mains supply.

To guarantee that, once you have paid the final payment for the price of the construction you will have the water and the electric meter connected, and with the contracts signed on your private names. After that the Declaration of New Building, (“Declaración de Obra Nueva o de División Horizontal”), can be obtained from the Notary and thus, the building can be registered at the Land Registrar..

It will be needed to obtain the Certificate of Habitation CH (“Cédula de Habitabilidad o Licencia de Primera Ocupación”). This document is very important because, you need it to obtain the water supply from the water company and to connect to a normal electricity tariff not the temporary building work contracts which is used during the construction process.

Strictly speaking you can’t occupied your finished house until the property is physically finished, and appears as a «house» in the land registry (“Registro de la Propiedad”). This is obtained with the two documents named above:

· Final Works License “(Certificado Final de Obra”), which is a document in which the architect who did the project of the construction certifies that the building is actually finished, with the compliance of both, project and Building License;

· New Building Declaration-DON (“Declaración de Obra Nueva”), this process id carried out by the local notary which is the process of registering the new building in the land registry (“Registro de la Propiedad”) including the existing plot.


Building your own house in Spain. Construction process

In this moment, you, as promoter, can use or sell the house. Also, the property, can be connected to the electrical network and the municipal water system. So, to recapitulate:

Apart from having a finish building you need the following paperwork:.

       Certificate of Habitation /Occupation License (“Cédula de Habitabilidad or Licencia de Ocupación”:  This is the confirmation from the Town Hall that the property is ready for habitation, and it is applied once the property is finished with the Final Works License (“Certificado Final de Obra”), and inscribed in the land registry with the New Building Declaration-DON (“Declaración de Obra Nueva”). You need this document to obtain the permission of the Town Hall to live in the house. Before you get it, what you have a is a construction, but not a “house”. This document will be necessary to obtain the individual supply of the main utilities on your name.

Certificate of electrical connection (“Boletín de Electricidad”): Before the builder obtains the certificate of habitation, there would be water and electricity supply needed during the construction process, because, it is normal that the builder obtains this supply to carry out the building works.

But the supply obtained from the builder is a supply for “works”, but not for normal use of the house. Sometimes, buyers or developers are left with electricity and water “supply for work” for many years, because no CH (Certificate of Habitation) was not obtained. They have water and electricity, but in a precarious way. So, in order to ensure that you, as buyer or developer, do obtain the proper CH from the architect. It would be wise to agree this service when you engage the architect at the beginning of the project.

So, as explained above, we highly recommend you, whether you are a developer or self-developer, to be obtain the CH, so that you can contract out water and electric supplies and with the security that these services will not be an issue in the future.

The architect knows the area, the Town Hall, and he will obtain these documents three times faster and cheaper than you.


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