Here you will find answers to many problems that expats may come across when embarking themselves in building or buying a place in the sun. These solutions and explanations shown here are the result of more than 25 years of experience working as an architect in Spain. These articles have been published previously in one of the best newspapers for expats in Spain, "Costa Blanca News".
If you have a particular problem which is not covered here, do not hesitate to send me an email and I will try to respond as soon as possible... and free of charge, of course.
Spain has more than 25 million homes, of which nearly three and a half million are empty. The urban construction in recent years has caused serious environmental and economic consequences across the Spanish geography, although it is more evident in coastal areas. In this article I will try to indicate the worst urban of Spain.
A question of figures. Some of the data of the so-called housing bubble speak for themselves: Spain, with a population of about 47 million people, had by the end of 2006 about 23.5 million homes (in late 2012 just over 25.3 million), according to the Ministry of Development. Of this total number, nearly three and a half million are empty, according to the most recent (2011) National Institute of Statistics (INE).
Community of Owners or "Comunidad de Propietarios"
Perhaps one of the most asked questions by homeowners expats in Spain.
Circumstances change along our life and therefore our needs. There comes a moment that once was a perfect home, it is no more now. So to glaze a terrace to avoid cold in winter or noise due to a new opened deafening adjacent road, or maybe to build an additional room and thereby gain a few meters of cover space or to use an aluminum structure in order to expand the kitchen are some options much needed in a particular moment in time.
Illegal buildings will now prescribe after fifteen years in the Valencia region.
The recent publication of the new Valencia planning law, the 5/2014 law of 25 of July, of the Valencia Government, so call "Land management, urban planning and landscape, of the Valencia Region from now on the LOTUP, has come into force on the 20th of August of this year, introduces several new features. One of the most attention-grabbing one is that makes reference to the prescription of illegal buildings, which increases the time to be "legalized" from 4 to 15 years.
This is a typical question that people often ask me. Obviously the answer depends on the type of works that it is intended to carry out.
Let me first tell you as a general rule that in Spain most building works require a building licence and even more so now, with this existing tax collection quest by all local authorities due to the economic crisis, so most probably you will find the friendly local policemen eagerly looking for any illegal building works to be sanctioned.
During all the years I have practised as an architect, I have experienced all kind of personal anecdotes. I have classified these experiences in files, named as amusing, serious and frightening. This particular one that I am about to tell you has been transferred, as time passed, from the frightening file into the amusing file, although I can assure you at a time it was at the very top of the frightening one.
During the years I worked as Town Hall Architect, my duties among others were, to prepare technical reports to allow the Town Planning Councillor to grant building licences, planning permission etc. But there was a task that nobody informed me about at the commencement of my appointment.
It is known by all that Spanish town planning is in a deep crisis. The aspects that have led to this situation are varied: the search for municipalities additional funding of public services, which has produced, criminal behaviours by the local politicians and civil servants, the absence of effective instruments of coordination between regional and the State jurisdiction; the narrow scope of the State in this area, individual local authority actions without prior planning, etc.
The Spanish Land Law of the 20th of June of 2008 (Ley del Suelo 2/2008) classifies all the Spanish territory in two different categories according to the intended use and they are: rural land or urbanized land (Suelo Rural and “Suelo Urbanizado").
In previous Land Laws, rural land, was known as “rustic land” (suelo rústico) and many people still use that old term, but to all purposes it means the same, land without planning permission.
Following the second part of this article on town planning we will explain the different stages of the main planning laws in Spain and its hierarchical structure. For that purpose I have selected the region of Murcia as an example, but to all purposes it could be applied to any regional community in this country.
As we described last week it is the Ley del Suelo (The Land Law) the national first, and the regional Land Laws second, the corner stone of all planning instruments and therefore any General Urban plan or Partial Plan must not contravene these laws and hierarchically any Detail Study must not change any General Plan or Partial Plan.
One of the main concepts that should be understood about Spanish planning that would help us not to make expensive mistake at the time of buying a plot of land to build a home is the Classifications of land known in the town planning jargon as Clasificación del suelo.
The land is classified in Spain in three main categories:
Urban land, land able to be urbanized and land forbidden to be urbanized. (Suelo urbano, suelo urbanizable y suelo no urbanizable).