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Building in Spain

Tropicana would like to thank the Granada architect, Pedro Santamaria Grant, who has produced the following detailed document as a guide to all those clients who are investigating the possibility of building a property on rural land (country locations) in the Costa Tropical area.

This document can also be easily adapted as a general guideline to those who are considering building a bespoke property on an urban plot; noting that the requirements for an Activity Project, Environmental Survey and/or the Water-Drainage survey will not be necessary. It is important to realise that this process is essential to legalise your property investment and that from start to finish (including planning and average build time) can take up to 24 months before obtaining the keys to your new home. Not forgetting too the need to ensure that you are able to obtain a 10 years builders guarantee for the project. This guarantee, while not obligatory in Spain for individuals building a property for their own use; it is nevertheless important to have it in place if you require to mortgage, obtain third party financing or anticipate to sell the property within the first 10 years of occupation.


1: LEGISLATION - all building in Andalucia is covered by the Ley De Ordenación Urbanistica De Andalucia 17/12/2002; this encapsulates all previous planning law. Apart from this planning law, there are also Provincial and Local regulations that need to be researched, established and considered.

To be able to build on non-urbanizable land an Activity Project may be required. This document describes the agricultural use to which the land is being put, and explains the need for residential accommodation on the land. This document has to be approved by the local and regional authorities before a building project can be undertaken.

2: BUILDING REGULATIONS - Spain has very simple but strict building regulations, these cover all facets of the building process and also the way that the building functions. Particular emphasis is placed on thermal performance, acoustic performance, energy conservation, and the resistance of the building to seismic activity. There are special regulations concerning hotels, public dining services, swimming pools, sports facilities and equipment. In non-urban situations the promoter must have proof that he can obtain the services required to carry out the specified activity, Water, Electricity, access etc. This means having a contract for them from a competent body.

3: THE BUILDING TEAM - In the building project THE ARCHITECT provides the following documents.

a) Documents describing the general characteristics of the building work, with justification of the solution adopted, referring to the clients brief and the building regulations and town planning requirements.

b) Plans to scale of the floors elevations and section.

c) Plans with dimensions.

d) Plans of layout, foundations, structure, services, structural details carpentry etc.

e) Specification, list of legal requirements and regulations.

f) Measured bill of quantities. With prices based on the standard format of government prices, and if required at real prices.

g) Standard form of contract for building work.

h) The architect is required to provide 5 copies of the documents at each stage; the client or the builder as required pays for extra copies. These copies are used as follows: 1 for the Aparejador (Quantity Surveyor), 1 for the Ayuntamiento (Town Hall), and 3 to the Client (2 to be given to the builder.)

Technical responsibility during construction.


a) Direct the work, coordinating this with the project, facilitating the technical, economic and aesthetic interpretation.
b) Draft modifications, additions or corrections required by the project.
c) Attend the works as required by the nature and complexity of the project, to resolve any problems that may arise and issue the instructions required to ensure the correct interpretation of the project.
d) Enter in the Instruction and Attendance book, those instructions and incidents that he considers relevant.
e) Coordinate with the Aparejador, the programme of the progress of the works and the programme of quality control in accord with the building regulations.
f) Coordinate the intervention of those other specialists required in the direction of the project, in accord with their speciality.
g) Prior to the start of building, check that the structure designed is adequate for the geological conditions of the site.
h) Approve the certificates for payment during the works and at completion.
i) Issue the final certificate, signed also by the Aparejador.
j) Advise the promoter during the work and at completion.
k) Prepare together with the contractor the final documentation, plans and written, of the work carried out.


a) Draft the study and analysis of the project to prepare programmes of organization of the work.
b) Plan, with reference to the project, the specification, the contract, the building regulations, the economic and quality control of the works.
c) Draft when required, a study of the risks and a health and safety plan for the works.
d) Draft if required a plan for quality control of the works.
e) Set out the works and prepare the statement of setting out, together with the architect.
f) Check the services on site, together with the safety of the works.
g) Carry out, or direct the quality controls required for the correct execution of the works. Forwarding the results to the builder with the orders resulting from the tests.
h) Carry out the measurement of the works, and approve as agreed, the certificates for payment.
i) Sign together with the Architect the final certificate.

The Architect is not required to provide services such as:

- Contracting the works,
- Negotiations with financial sources,
- Negotiations with lawyers, notaries, registrars or tax authorities.
- Financial administration, holding of funds for payment to contractors.
- Translation of documents.
- Legalization of the building at completion for the issue of the licence of occupation.

NOTE: Such services are deemed outside the terms of engagement and are charged for separately.


The conditions of contract for the builder require that he be efficient, carryout the works diligently, obey the health and safety regulations and other regulations. He is also required to provide a decennial warranty in the form of an insurance policy in favour of the promoter, which will be handed over at practical completion. He also has to provide the bulletins of installation for water, electricity, gas and telephone. The promoter retains normally 5% of all payments until completion of the works.
The owner has to pay the building licence, completion certificate, new building deeds at the notary, registry costs, land improvement tax, and all the appropriate taxes including IVA (vat).

For a project of this type the following is the documentation required:

1. Escritura publica de compra venta.  Deeds to prove ownership of the property. Including contract or licence for water. (Client to supply)
2. Nota registral simple. A certificate from the land registry proving ownership. (Client to supply)
3. Certificado catastral. A certificate from the land tax office, with plan. (Client to supply)
4. A topographical survey of the estate locating all the boundaries, buildings and ruins as well as canals, wells, tracks, paths and rights of way. (Client and/or the Topographer to supply)
5. A geological survey of the site where the building is to take place, to ensure that there is no hidden fault or failure in the subsoil, and to allow for a correct calculation of the foundations. (client and/or the Geologist to supply).
6. For new buildings on RUSTIC NON URBAN LAND a Proyecto de Actividad will be required to justify the need to have a house and to explain the agricultural use for the land. (Client, Architect or Agricultural Engineer to supply)
7. An environmental impact study, based on the projected building and use. (Client and/or the Environmental Agent to supply). May be required
8. A licence to dispose of sewage, if there is no mains drainage. This includes the need to design and specify the method of disposal. (Client and/or Architect to supply) May be required
9. A health and safety study for the protection of those working in the industry proposed.
10. A building project based on the brief provided and all the above information. (Architect to supply).
- Ante Proyecto, preliminary project, basic design for the project to be used to obtain preliminary opinions from the public authorities, banks etc.  20% fees due for payment.
- Proyecto de ejecución.  The final project used for obtaining all the permissions licences etc.70% fees due for payment.
- Proyecto de fin de obra, completion project, the document provided at the completion of the work as a record of the building and a manual for its use and maintenance. 100% fees due for payment.

The building licence is conditioned on the presentation of a health and safety project for the building work. This is a separate document from the building project.

11. Building licence. This comes from the local Town but depends on the approval of the Junta de Andalucía and all its departments. Regional Government.
a. MOPU - Ministerio de Obras Públicas (Ministry of Public Works)
b. Conserjería de Obras Públicas y Transportes. (Regional Council for Public Works & Transport)
c.  Delegación Provincial – Servicio de Ordenación del Territorio y Urbanismo. (Provincial Authority for Land Planning and Urban Development)
d.  Confederación Hidrográfica Del Sur- Departamento De Residuos Líquidos. (Water Board)
e. Delegación de Medio Ambiente. (Environment Agency)

All these departments also have to approve the completed building to allow it to be inhabited.

The project contains the following documents.
- A description of the proposed construction, the promoters and the use proposed. Documents describing how each of the elements in the design has been calculated.
- Documents justifying, handicapped access, sound performance, thermal performance and energy conservation, compliance with the fire regulations, structural design and seismic performance, plumbing design, electrical design, telecommunications design, disposal of residual water and environmental impact. NOTE: Some of these documents are specialist documents which are outside the normal terms of engagement.
- Layout plans, sections and elevations to scale.
- Plans of foundations and structure.
- Plans of the installations of water, electricity telecommunications, sewage.
- Plans and schedules of carpentry, sanitary ware and other elements within the design.
- A list of all the regulations relevant to the project.
- General conditions for the execution of the works, standard form of Building Contract.
- Bill of quantities including prices. Note the prices quoted in the bill in the project are used as the basis for calculating all the licences and subsidies available. They can be real, fictitious or based on the government published prices.

NOTE: That all other work required such as translation, investigation of the site, consultation with public authorities, measurement of existing buildings and land, valuations of buildings and land, study of documents, arbitration, interior design and furnishing are services available that will be charged in accordance with the fee scale recommended by the COLEGIO OFICIAL DE ARQUITECTOS DE GRANADA (The Official College of Granada Architects).

The costs to be considered are:

Financial costs, banking, transfer of cash and interests. Land cost. Purchase Price.  Notary and registration costs.  Land taxes and capital transfer taxes.

Preliminary studies:
Topographical survey.
Geological survey.
Environmental impact study.
Proyecto de Actividad (Activity Project).

Building Costs:
Building cost
Demolition costs.
Material cost.
Industrial benefit.
Standing costs.
Decennial insurance policy.
Cementation study and analysis - essential for 10 year guarantee insurance.

Cost subject to IVA at 8% or 21%. Work within the main contract is at 8%.

Architects fees: based on the demolition and material cost and depending on the total size and cost of the project.
Basic project.
Execution project.
Practical completion and direction of works.

All costs subject to IVA at 21%.

Aparejadors fees: based on the demolition and material cost. Approximately 30% of the architects fees.
Direction of works.
Practical completion.
Health and safety project.
Cost depends on the value of the work to be carried out.

All costs subject to IVA at 21%.

Building licence:
Approximately 4 - 6% of the Material cost. 6.3% in Almuñecar.

Refundable deposit (aval) to cover damage to streets, and surrounding public areas that are within the municipality. The town hall will refund the deposit only once the licence of first occupation has been delivered and the property fully registered. Usually no more than 6 months after the occupation licence has been delivered.

At completion there are the following charges, which may also apply:
Electricity contract.
Drinking water contract and irrigation water contract.
Sewage disposal contract.
Telephone contract.
New building Deeds.
Royal land taxes (Derechos Reales) ie: 1% to 1.5% of the value of the project.
Land registry correction.
Catastro correction.  

Edit  08.2017