Top Tips for Building Your Luxury Dream Home in Spain

While buying an already built home is a more straightforward option, building your own home has many advantages, mainly that you can design every aspect of the home from scratch leading to a finished project that has every room exactly as you want it.

It is also a popular choice for those who prefer to be away from the hustle and bustle of summer resort life. The basics of building your own home are you buy a parcela, which is Spanish for a plot of land, and hire an architect who will create plans to your specifications. Another option is to go with a standard design supplied by a builder.

However, it must be said the taking the route of building a home on the Costa Blanca is not a path for the timid. Spanish red tape and the often-bizarre business dealings can make building a home from scratch a nightmare. But having said that, there are many outstanding builders on the Costa Blanca who will build a uniquely designed house on your plot or will provide a plot and build a property selected from a choice of standard designs. Here, real estate and construction company Valuvillas, based in Javea on the North Costa Blanca offers an insight as to what to look into if you are considering designing your own perfect villa in Spain.

Infrastructure

When you are looking at a specific area, it is important to look into plans for infrastructure for the area, with both national and regional government departments. In certain parts of the Costa Blanca, roads and railways need upgrading, and there may be projects to do so underway. This could lead to a quiet rural plot ending up next to a main road or even an autopista.

When buying a plot, it is important to take the same precautions as if you were buying a property. Make sure it is approved for a building permit (if it is classed as a finca urbana it will most likely be approved for construction, but always check with the town hall first).

Make sure the plot is large enough for the type of property you want to build, as some areas require that there be a certain number of metres between the property wall and the perimeter of the plot. The minimum size plot for building varies from area to area, so again check with the townhall to make sure the plot size is correct relating to the property size you have in mind.

Spanish building regulations

It is normal to assume you can build a similar type of property as that on a neighbouring plot. However, this is not always the case as your plot may be subject to different regulations, or the regulations could have changed since your neighbour’s home was built. Also, consider that some plots are just not suitable for building on; it could be that they are too steep, or they would need ridiculously expensive foundations or retaining walls.

It is wise to talk with an architect before buying anything. A professional can inform you if the plot you are considering is fit for construction, and estimate the costs related to foundations and retaining walls.

Furthermore, it is also prudent to pay for a land survey which although is fairly expensive (expect to pay anywhere from €1800-€4200) but a survey will verify the boundaries and rights to water usage. It will also confirm that there are not any limitations with regards to electricity lines, water pipes, or public right of way that could affect your building plans.

Access

If they only access to a property is a non-tarred dirt track, be very aware that on the Costa Blanca rainfall can be torrential – particularly in winter. In just a few hours, tracks can change from accessible pathways into treacherous mud banks, with huge cracks or could even be washed away entirely, meaning the only way to get to your house is by foot or on two wheels.

Legalities

Before you sign anything concerning buying a plot, particularly if you are looking at rural areas, it really is advisable to hire a professional such as a lawyer who will carefully look into the regulations and conditions that may affect the land.

Do not believe everything the landowner or even an estate agent tells you, because they will be keen to sell the plot and declare that getting planning permission is straightforward when in fact the opposite is true.

Being the new owner of a plot of land that you cannot build on is no fun, and a very expensive mistake, so ask your lawyer to get written confirmation from the town hall that corresponds to your land stating the land can be built on and is approved for road access.

Guaranteeing a building licence in Spain

Before you buy a plot of land you intend to build on, you need to make sure that the purchase contract depends on being granted the necessary licencia de obras (building license). You can check with the local property registry and confirm for yourself that planning permission has been granted. Do not leave this task with the builder, because if the planning information is incorrect in any way, it could lead to you being responsible for improving the nearby infrastructure, or the property could even be demolished. Also, be aware that planning permission can take some time to be granted.

You will find building firms on the Costa Blanca offering packages that include a plot and the cost of constructing a property. This may not turn out to be such a good deal as it originally looks, so shop around and find out how much it would cost to buy a plot separately and then hire a builder. If you do opt for a package construction deal, make sure you get separate contracts for the building and for the purchase of the land, and before signing the building contract obtain the title deeds. If building on an existing urbanisation, make sure the urbanization is approved as there are still some on the cost of Blanca that are illegal.

Costs

The cost of a plot depends largely on the area and also if it is level. You can expect to pay between €50 and €400 m². As a rule of the thumb, the cost of the land usually equates around 50% of the cost of building the home, but having said this is still possible to buy a plot and build a better and larger property at a lower cost than that of a second-hand resale property. And remember when you design your own home you can make sure the materials and the labour you are top-quality.

As a ballpark figure, expect to pay around €700-€1500 per square meter depending on the quality of the materials and the area you choose. It is always a good idea to add around 10 to 15% to your original estimated costs, as frequently building your own home turns out to be more expensive than initially expected.

Extras

If you would ideally like a swimming pool or garage, it is a good idea to build it at the same time as the house if possible, because if built separately the applicable IVA is 16% compared to 7% when built together.

Finding a Costa Blanca architect & builder

When looking for professionals to help you obtain your dream home it is advisable to get suggestions from local people whose opinion you can trust. Note, that estate agents or other professionals are not always to be relied upon, as they may earn a commission. You can obtain useful information from expats who have lived long-term in an area that you particularly like.

Many Spanish architects on the Costa Blanca speak English and you will find architects from other EU countries such as Holland and Germany working in resort areas. Architects’ payments are typically assessed as a percentage of the total cost of the build, normally between 5 and 10 per cent, which unfortunately does not inspire them to reduce costs. In Spain, however, there are no longer compulsory minimum fees for architects, so it is worth trying to reach a deal.

A good architect will know of dependable builders, but also do your own enquiries, considering the reputation and financial status of the builder. Be careful of an architect who comes with his ‘own’ builder (or vice versa, a constructor with his own architect), as it is up to the architect to make sure the constructor carries out the job according to plan, so you don’t want them to be too friendly.

Before hiring anyone, always check out other houses the builder has worked on, if possible, ask the owners if they had any issues. Building standards in Spain differ significantly and you should not presume the lowest offer you get is the best value. Your best protection when constructing a property is the character of the builder and his financial resources.

It is important a builder provides a ‘termination’ guarantee which is supported by a bank or insurance company to protect you if he goes bust before completing the work, This must be stipulated in the contract.

If you want a home built precisely to your requirements, you must expect to supervise every step or employ a professional to do it for you, otherwise it has highly likely your directions won’t be exactly followed.

Around 70 per cent of an architect’s fees are due when building commences, and the balance payable upon completion when all applicable certificates have been issued by the town hall.

Contracts

Before signing any contracts, you need to get several written quotes from a number of building companies. Make sure the contract includes insulation against heat and cold and also protection against dampness. The contract should include a comprehensive description of the quality of materials to be used referring to your architect’s plans, the precise location of where the building will be developed within the plot, and the building and payment schedules which should be done in stages. It ideally should also include a penalty in the event of late completion, a retention of 5 to 10% of building costs to guarantee against faults, and details of how any disagreements will be resolved. However, it could be difficult for the builder to accept a late completion penalty clause as construction work is very rarely finished on time.

As the owner, you will be liable for a tax on the construction installation and work, which is imposed on any work which requires a municipal license. This ranges from 2 to 4% of the total cost and you will probably be asked to pay it when the local authorities deliver the building permit.

Before you accept an estimate have it checked by a building consultant to make sure it is a fair quote. The quote should include 7% IVA. Make sure if the estimate is simply an estimate or a fixed price because costs can rise considerably during building work. It is especially important you get a lawyer to check the contract, as typically building contracts are prejudiced to favour the builder with very few rights for the client.

Guarantees

Under Spanish law, a builder is required to guarantee the property against structural problems for 10 years, known is Spanish as the Seguro Decenal. This increases to 15 years if the constructor failed to conform to any specific clauses in the contract. The architect will also be responsible for up to 10 years for flaws due to inadequate supervision, incorrect instructions, or issues due to weak foundations such as subsidence.

Be aware that if you do encounter any problems, you will require a lot of patience and persistence before they will be resolved. When the building is completed, make sure it is checked by a structural surveyor for any faults and that a report is made which determines who is responsible.

To Rent Or To Buy: How To Know If You Should Rent Or Buy A Vacation Home In Florida

Happy family on summer vacation. Travel and adventure concept

Are you ready for a second home? Find out whether it makes more sense to rent or buy a vacation home in Florida.

Beach houses are a great way to bring everyone closer together for a weekend of family fun and when you rent or buy a vacation home in Florida, you can enjoy your time even more.

With some of the best beaches in the country and a ton of activities to do, Florida is a great place to visit or move.

If you’re considering buying or renting a house in this area, then read on to learn what you need to think about before signing on the dotted line.

Things to Consider Before You Buy

When you buy a vacation home in Florida, it can feel like a dream come true. But if you haven’t given it enough thought, then you could get yourself into trouble. Consider the following before making a purchase.

Can You Afford It?

No matter how you look at it, a second home is a huge financial commitment. You will most likely be handling two simultaneous mortgages as well as taking on the cost of buying furnishings for your new properties.

When you tack on the cost of maintenance, taxes, and utilities, you can be left with little money for anything else after paying your bills.

In addition, many of the vacation homes you can buy in Florida are situated in flood and wind zones that account for incredibly high insurance prices.

These costs can be found out by asking your real estate agent for an estimate from previous years when you tour a home.

How Often Will the Property Be Used?

For it to be worth a purchase, other than for investment income, you should plan to spend at least two months at your property every year.

When you buy a vacation home in Florida, you may not always be able to get to it often. The commute from your primary residence or work may be too far to make it a practical place to visit frequently.

This is important because when you do arrive, you will have to spend some time cleaning and performing maintenance on the property. This takes valuable time away from your vacation.

To be sure you will use your property, many professionals recommend renting a beach house for a year in their destination city. This allows them to take stock of the costs and accessibility without making a permanent commitment.

Will You Rent It Out?

Many people who know that they won’t be using their beach house all the time choose to rent out their property while they aren’t there. Having rental income can help to take care of some of the costs of upkeep and pay your mortgage during the off-season months.

But if you rely too much on off-setting your costs with rental income, you may put yourself in a bad situation.

If you home sits empty for too many months or is damaged and cannot be rented for a period of time, then you could be struggling to find the funds to pay your mortgage.

Do You Have a Long-Term Plan?

Many people who buy a vacation home in Florida are entering their retirement years. If this is your situation then you need to consider how comfortable you will be at your new home in your old age.

You will need a property that has convenient access to health care and a master bedroom that is on the first floor to ensure you can get around easily.

What Are the Rules?

Not every community will allow you to rent out vacation homes as a rental property. Some associations have rules about rentals that require you to have renters stay for a set number of months.

Make sure you look into both the city and home owner’s or condo association rules to be sure your plans will be approved before you make a purchase.

What Are All the Costs?

Beyond your home itself, you may have to pay for lawn-care or pool-care as well as services like cable and internet.

In addition, you may want to purchase things for water sports like kayaks, paddle boards, canoes, or a jet ski.

Do You Have an Emergency Plan?

When you buy a vacation home in Florida, you will always be at the mercy of hurricanes and other natural disasters. It’s important that even if you aren’t at your home when a storm rolls through, it’s still protected from wind and water damage.

Make sure that you talk to some neighbors and other people around the area the home is in to see if there is a someone who can secure your home in the event of a storm.

The last thing you want is to be watching the storm on the news from home and wondering what state of disaster your beach house is in.

How Will You Protect Your Home When It’s Empty?

If you have a vacation home that you aren’t in all of the time, then you need to make sure it is protected when you are out of town.

Consider installing lights that are on timers and asking a neighbor to occasionally park in your driveway. This will make it look like the home isn’t sitting vacant.

You should also have someone come by to get your mail and pick up any fliers that might be on your doorstep.

Buy a Vacation House in Florida

Florida is a great place to invest your money and bring your family for wonderful experiences. Its beautiful beaches and world-class amusement parks make it the ultimate place to buy a vacation home.

Make sure that you consider how often you will be using the home and whether you will be renting it out before you decide to buy a vacation home in Florida. There are different rules and regulations in place that can affect your long-term plan.

You should also consider all the costs of your purchase before you go through with it. You don’t want to be surprised by a bill down the line or not have enough to buy toys to enjoy at your new property.

If you are an adventurer and long to vacation in the best parts of the globe, then check out more of our articles.

How to Invest in the Trump Economy

Politics and stock markets are very closely linked. Economic indicators are severely affected by political decisions, as are earnings. Considering we live in complicated economic times, not in the least due to the new Trump Administration, it can be difficult to predict how markets are going to move. However, experts like Stephen R Buzzi believe that it is possible to thrive economically during the Trump administration.

In the first few months following the presidential election, it was understandable that there was a lot of political uncertainty, something that is seen after every presidential election. However, it seems as if things haven’t slowed down at all, with one geo-political disaster after the other. And the result is that financial news websites are now filled with political headlines, and every political headline is a piece of financial news.

The Political Impact

President Donald Trump promised to restore spending on the US infrastructure, and he promised American jobs for American people. The direct impact of this was that the materials sector experienced significant growth – even though none of these promises have been made good on yet. Trump is struggling to really find his place in government, and this has an impact on the economy.

For instance, the IMF rapidly slashed their original growth rate, dropping it from the expected 2.3% in 2017 to 2.1%, and leaving it at 2.1% for 2018, down from 2.5%. This means growth is actually cut, and that is one of the many things that seems to hurt Trump’s ego. He did promise, after all, 4% growth, something that is looking increasingly unlikely.

A New Status Quo

According to Buzzi, it is important that investors learn to understand the difference between where growth truly is, and where it should be. This is done by looking at the GDPNow forecast instead, for instance, since they show what the current status quo is. Trump is not managing to get things done as quickly as he promised (look at the Affordable Care Act, for instance), and this means investors need to reset their projections as well.

Steve Buzzi warns that investors cannot ignore the political/financial headlines, however. These have had a significant impact and must be watched. However, this doesn’t mean established strategies and trends have gone out the window. In fact, most investor like Buzzi who have stuck to their old strategies have been very successful, experiencing consistent gains and solid wins, despite Trump’s administration.

The key difference is, however, that action now has to be swift in certain areas, and slow in others, and this seems to have been turned around. Hence, investors have to become more patient and they have to review their expectations of where the risks are. Buzzi has important strategic knowledge and can therefore understand which strategies will affect which items, and how the turbulence can be navigated through appropriately. Yes, there is a turbulent stock market, but that only means that investors need to continue to show confidence, despite political issues, or the economy could collapse.