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How many types of land for building are in Spain?

If you are projecting to buy your own  land to build a house in Spain,  such as a farmhouse (cortijo), or such a “villa”, it is essential to find out if the land is placed in an area where building is allowed (in this case it is called a “finca urbana”, or “suelo urbano” ) or where it is not allowed (“finca rustica” or “suelo rustico”). This classification will affect the rights of construction on the plot.

Land in Spain is classified in several types:

1.- Urban land – “Suelo Urbano

This is a land in which it is authorized to build with derterminate specificactions contained in the “Development Plans” of the city, or area (Plan General de Ordenación Urbana PGOU), or in specific zones of urbanization called “Partial Plans” (Planes Parciales) etc.

This land uses to have all the facilities and requirements to live there in high density of population, like the proper water and electricity supplies , connection to mains sewage system, parks and green areas, sports, educational, hospitals, etc.

Urban Land or “Suelo Urbano” is the one that we use to find in cities, villages, or urbanizations, and used to have the proper access by roads, with pavement, pedestrian areas, streets, commercial areas, health centres, schools, hospitals, sports, etc.

2.- Non urbanizable land  – Rustic land – “Suelo No Urbanizable”  

“No Urbanizable” is a type of land where it is not possible to develop any industrial, residential or commercial land, because is destinated to determinate protected uses, mainly connected to the forest, agriculture, and others. So, in these type of land, other uses as residential, industrial or commercial are very limited, restristed, and not always allowed.

Inside the “Non Urbanizable” land, we find a classification in sub-types of land, depending on the use allowed, and the level of protection:

Rustic land” is the name that usually is adopted to the Suelo No Urbanizable Comun in Spain. In other words: areas where urbanizations cannot be developed, which is being destined to agricultural use, it is allowed other uses as construction of residential properties, or industries, etc, always respecting determinate normative and conditions.  

3.- Urbanizable or developing Land – “Suelo Urbanizable” 

This is the type of land where, being now considered as “Non Urbanizable”, it can be developed in the future with urbanizations, commercial areas, industrial parks, etc.

Construction process and tips when bulding a Spanish house in Urban land

Talking now about “urban land”, this is a land where you have plenty possibilities of building, but conditioned with the local normative. 

So, if your intention is to develop a project for building a house in “urban” areas,  you should first check in the legal authority (mainly the Town Hall , Council = “Ayuntamiento”), which are the specifications, requirements, and limitations, that you can have to build there.[

1. First step: To confirm the construction possibilities in the plot

The “Building License”, or “Building Permit”, or “Construction License” (Licencia de Construcción, o Licencia de Edificación, o Licencia de Obra Mayor).

As we pointed before if your intention is develop a project in one of the “URBAN” areas,  you should first check with the legal authority (mainly the Town Hall or Council = “Ayuntamiento”), or, alternatively, consulting and getting the advice of lawyers specialists in construction and urban developments.

So, before to pass to advanced steps of the process, it is essential that you obtain the proper information about the local regulations and limitations of the area, and the possibillities to develop and execute your project. As well as in other countries, the authorization o your project will be formally approved when obtained the  “Building License”, or “Building Permit” from the Town Hall.

So, the First Step is to know if the local normative authorizes the construction of a house on that plot, and which are the specific considerations to respect.

Urbanization costs

In cities or urbanized areas it is compulsory to install all the necessary infrastructure to convert empty spaces into “cities” or “urbanizations”. So, it passes to make, between others, the following actions:

  • External roads and communication infrastructure: Connections to highway, train, airports, etc.
  • Internal roads and communications: Pavement, streets, pedestrian areas, parks, public gardens, etc.
  • Sewage, water, electric, gas, internet, etc.

Usually, a plot is ready to be build when the above infrastructure is completed. So, purely, it is not possible to build on a plot where there are pending urbanization infrastructure to complete.

But, in some cases, the area has been considered in such a way that, although the majority of the urbanization infrastructure is complete, there are some points not completed, which are left to the moment in which the owner decides to build on it. For example, it is quite common that the owner pays the urbanization costs of the frontal of the plot (the owner has to “give” part of their plots to the public road), or even installing (and paying) the pavement, or others like pedestrian areas, etc.

These type of requirements, when not discovered, may create economical damages to those ones who did not know about when bought these kind of plots for building. So, it is compulsory to account with the services of construction legal specialists to obtain the necessary information about the plot, and to confirm the exact possibilities and conditions of construction on it.

Study of the surrounding areas

It is quite common to find empty plots in new developed areas, where the urbanization and the are is not completed yet. It makes difficult to know how will be the area when completed, and which kind of properties, constructions and installations will be executed in the area.

So, it is also essential to account with a construction specialist lawyer to obtain detailed information about the future developments to execute in the area, in order to avoid undesirable surprises in the future.

So, We advice that before BUYING  the plot, or to make any decision over the transaction, bear in mind to have a PRELIMINAR STUDY OF THE PROJECT consulting with local lawyers, architects, builders, or the construction technical staff from the Building Department of the Town Hall (Departamento o Concejalía de Urbanismo).  This will make more secure the investment because,   after all,   you will have a concrete idea and acknowledge about the conditions and limitations to build in that plot, before to proceed to buy the land. It is more than recommendable that to make a study by a Solicitor expert in construction and,  if possible, consulting the architect who will develop the project and the construction.

Also, in that premilinar study ask your lawyer to confirm not only the specific building rights on the plot, but also to discover what other developments are planned on that area, for example new roads, highways, train line,  industrial parks, commercial areas, or even an urbanization.

This information can be obtained from your lawyer with meetings at the Town Hall, studying of the local normative, and also obtained from the Town Hall with a document named “CÉDULA URBANÍSTICA”.

Once you know exactly the type of building authorized to be built in that land,  then you must contract the services of an architect to develop the PROJECT OF CONSTRUCTION, or BUILDING PROJECT.

In the building project, your  architect must adapt your ideas and preferences to the specific regulations from the Town Hall in that area. So, your architect will guide you throughout this process, informing you about the different possibilities to transform your “ideal house” in a construction fulfilling the regulations of the area.

The most important thing is to have every detail specified by your architect. Have your architect go through the plans in as much detail as you can stand. Try to visualize what the views from different windows will be, and what size beds the guestrooms can handle etc.

In simple words: Try to obtain from your archtiect as much as information about how the final house will be. Try to furnish and live in the house while it’s still on paper. You may not be on-site to catch things that could annoy you for years to come, like a window that’s off centre in a bedroom, or skylights that aren’t exactly above where the bathroom sinks will be.

Once the project is complete, then your Architect must be present to the Building project to the local Town Hall at the Building Department (“Departamento de Urbanismo” or “Concejalía de Urbanismo”). With the application of the Building License, you have to pay a municipal tax, Impuesto sobre Construcciones, Instalaciones y Obras, which is applicable to all developments which need a building license (whether one is applied for / granted or not). This tax can vary from 2% to 4% of the cost of the construction, depending on the Town Hall of your area.

Then, they will study how suitable is your project to the specific conditions or limitations in the area.

If your project fulfills normative, and fulfills with the regulations and requirements to build on in that area, then they will authorize you to build there with the proper “Building License” or “Building Permit”, so you will be entitled to build there exactly the same property as presented to the Town Hall with the project.

So, if you find a plot in one of these areas, and you have the aim to build there a determinate construction or project, you should first check in the legal authority (mainly the Town Hall , Council = “Ayuntamiento”), which are the specifications, requirements, and limitations, that you can have to build there.EE

2.- Second step: Construction process

Please, click below to get detailed information about construction process,  when you decided to develop your construction project in Spain.

Construction process when building a house in Spain for your own

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