Can I split my house in two?

This question is normally brought up by my clients. Well, circumstances do change from one day to the next. It could be an irreconcilable breakage of marriage, teenagers leaving the bird's nest, bereavement of family members or simply the need to make an additional income.

 

Is it advisable to split a dwelling?

The purpose of dividing a house or apartment can be varied, but the owner's decision must always weigh the costs and construction management that will need to be faced, and the time that the work and all paper work will take.

 

And, of course, consider what profitability will be obtained if any, so that the division is compensated financially. Regarding funding, consider that each new apartment can be mortgaged independently after segregation, since they will be two separate dwellings.

 

The idea of splitting a house or apartment in two is not as crazy as it may sound, but what are the requirements to be able to do so?

 

The Horizontal Law

The legal basis for the segregation of a house is established is the "Ley de Propiedad Horizontal" commonly known by the Expats as the Horizontal Law.


 However before splitting a house or apartment certain regulations must be taken into account. As for the planning aspects, the existing planning regulation of each region should be checked; while it is true that there are common criteria for the whole of Spain, it is wise to also check the existing planning regulation from the municipality and the region.

 

There is another factor which should also be taken into account and that is the actual layout of the apartment (more important than in a single villa) just in the event that the division is complicated to be carried out, such as the wrong position of sewers down pipes or without sufficient windows for the proposed layout. In addition, other regulations must be considered which are applicable to applicable to the entire national territory such as the Minimum Habitation Standards where the minimum sizes and number of rooms are stipulated.


Obviously if the property forms part of one Community of Owners, permission must be obtained from the president.

 

Standards that have to be met

Here below I show some standards that have to be met to obtain the required certificate of occupancy needed to connect the water and electricity:

  • Independent access to the property.
  • To have a minimum of 30 square meters in each of the new apartments including bathroom and kitchen.
  • Minimum room dimensions of 10 square meters. (Although this depends of the type of room).
  • Insulation of party wall between the two houses (20 centimetres minimum) although there are other technical construction techniques which could decrease that size.
  • Thermal and acoustic insulation solutions for the external shell of the new apartment.

It is also important to confirm the minimum size plot in case of an individual villa or house. These requirements changes in each municipality.


If you are faced with a complicated case of distribution and division of a property, I strongly recommend obtaining the advice from an architect. I have been involved in cases which are heartbreaking and could have been solved from the beginning at a fraction of a cost.


The certificate of occupancy is dealt with in the corresponding town hall and requires the approval from a technical professional. If current regulations on fire prevention and minimal surfaces are excluded, the rest is general for all Spain.


In addition, in order to proceed with the division of a dwelling the following is needed:

  • Building License: requested from the local town hall, a tax must be paid. (Usually about 4% of the estimated construction cost).
  • Building Project: a technical project must be carried out by an architect. Splitting a house into two it contemplates the segregation of one property, which must be executed by an appropriate professional (architect or sometimes a technical architect). Also, in the legal side there will be new deeds from the original and the segregated dwelling.

Which professionals should be involved?

Splitting an apartment or house into two o more parts is a work of some importance, which requires the presence of adequate technical personnel. In addition to the services of an architect (and, if it is a major work project it will requires both), you have to engage a lawyer to draft the deed of segregation, which is authorizes by a notary and to register the resultant new properties in the land registrar.


It is always wise to obtain quotations from the professional mentioned above, in order to calculate these expenses.

 

Splitting a dwelling is often a good way to make a profit, and occurs frequently in large apartments in Madrid and Barcelona that are sold or better rented in smaller apartments. However, the results of each dwelling after splitting may not be that good: small rooms, excess hallways, awkward accessibility of the units, etc. So do obtain the advice of a good professional beforehand.


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