Building a house in Spain – Part II

LAST UPDATED: 8 Mar, 2011 @ 09:33
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In Issue 8 we talked about the preliminary stages of building your own house in the campo (countryside) and what pitfalls you should look out for when making a purchase. Now we assume that you have purchased your land and are looking at building your house (for which planning permission has been granted!).

First of all you will need to decide on a design. There are many architects in Spain – including some good foreign ones – and they will be able to draw up plans for your new house. It is worth having several meetings to discuss what form you want your house to take.

The architect will be able to advise on the practical legalities of some types of structure e.g. maybe a house with a sloping roof is not permitted in an area where houses traditionally have flat roofs. The architect you choose should be affiliated with the Colegio de Arquitectos – which will mean they have the legal authority to sign off plans. Expect to pay a fee of around six percent of the build cost.

Once your architect has drawn up the plans you will need to find a builder. Your architect will have provided you with a memoria de calidades – building specifications – which is a legally binding document that ensures your house will be built in accordance with the plans.  Take your memoria to prospective builders in order that they may give you a quote. Get several quotes and take advice, if you can, on which builders can be relied upon for a quality build.

When work starts you are unlikely to see your architect again. This in not because they don’t like to leave their offices or get their hands dirty – a different person usually takes on the job of supervising the build. You will have already paid for this supervision, which is carried out by an aparejador – a professional architectural engineer.

When agreeing on a price with a builder make sure that you understand exactly what you are paying for. Will he prepare the site before building work commences? And clean up on completion? What about if work is delayed (due to a fault on his part) – is there a penalty clause?

You can usually expect to pay around 20% up front to the builder and the rest in several instalments at agreed completion points – e.g. when the foundations are in, or the roof goes on. The remainder should be paid on completion. A good idea is to agree to defer the final payment for several months so that any
defects which come to light after completion will be corrected by the builder.

Once completed the structure of the building (walls, foundations, roof) is the legal responsibility of the builder for ten years. This is guaranteed under Spain’s Construction Law, and will be covered in a future column.

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