The purchase of land to build in Spain
The purchase in Spain of a single plot with the intention of building a home can be a personal project (in the case of wanting to build our own house) or a very interesting investment plan.
Is it possible to build in the land we plan to buy?
Before proceeding with the purchase of the site, a series of inquiries must be made, since the land in Spain is subject to local and regional regulations that determine its use and the authorization (or not) to build a house.
To carry out these checks we must go to the City Council where the land is located to request an “urbanistic certificate”:
✓ We must check if the property we are interested in buying is rustic land or is a surface on which it is allowed to build.
✓ If it is possible to build, we will have to check if there is an urban plan in progress on the acquired site or if on the contrary it is free of any project and therefore can be built.
✓ It is also necessary to know the urban qualification of the site, that is, the use to which the land can be dedicated according to its classification (housing construction, equipment, green area, schooling … ) by the local regulations.
In the Spanish system the land/plot can generally be classified into three types:
a) Urban land
The urban planning plan of each City Council defines this type of land: It is the one that being within the municipal area, complies with the local regulations that authorize its use to build:
- Must have the essential services of access, water supply, electricity and sewage.
- The area in which the site is located must be developed constructively.
- And must comply with all the requirements of the municipal management plan.
There are two types of urban land: Consolidated urban land, refers to lots that have all the conditions and permits required to build and unconsolidated urban land, which needs some action to be qualified as suitable to build, for example, build access or add some public service, such as lighting, sewerage, water supply, ..
b) “Urbanizable” land
These are grounds that are neither urbanized, nor built, and need a specific development plan.
c) Non-developable land
These are lands protected by their natural value or by their economic use (agricultural or livestock farms). On this type of ground, it is only possible to build single-family homes and buildings linked to the farm or buildings of public interest. When a house is to be built on rustic land, it must be especially aesthetically respectful of the environment in which it finds itself and the extension of the plot is that required by law to be considered suitable to build.
If the plot that we are interested in acquiring is suitable to build, we must find out the permitted conditions and allowed requirements of the building:
✓ You have to know the gross and net area (once subtracted the space that if the case has to be allocated to sidewalks, fords, urban provisions …) of the plot.
✓ The boundaries or alienations should be checked, that is, the minimum boundaries of the land with other plots and the streets (there is usually a minimum distance that must be respected).
✓ It must be taken into account if there are water and electricity connections and if it has sewer service connection.
✓ As for the construction of the house, the City Council’s regulations will determine (a) the maximum area it can occupy, that is, the maximum extension of buildability, the total built surface counted in the different floors and terraces, if any; (b) the heights/floors that can be built (may be limited); (c) the space that must be vacated between the façade of the dwelling and the boundary of the plot or the street (the setback is required in the urban plans and may affect the building area of the plot); and (d) the architectural style or aesthetic limitations that can be imposed by the Town Councils (materials for facades, colours, type of roofs ..)
Once all these checks have been carried out and the regulations have been complied with, the license to carry out the desired construction may be requested and granted to proceed to the construction of the desired home.