Spain Explained

Property renovations in Spain: Everything you need to know

At different times of our lives we need different facilities. The swimming pool and villa in a rural location can be perfect for a growing family but less attractive as you become older. There are times when we all need to take stock of our family or holiday home and perhaps make a move to something more suitable. In this article we will go through the options you have, as well as some advice if you decide to go for property renovations in Spain.

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Our tip: Reviewing use

Whether you are considering a move or not, it can be useful to take stock of your needs and whether your current property meets them. You might begin by asking:

  • Is my property too large or too small for my current needs?
  • Am I still happy with the property’s location?
  • Are the running costs of the property proportionate to the use I make of the facilities?
  • Can I see any difficulties emerging over the next few years in where the property is located or the space it offers?
  • What are my medium and long term plans for using my Spanish property?
  • Are there changes I can make to the property that will improve it for me without the need to move?

You might want to discuss these issues with your family and also consider inheritance plans at the same time. It may be that you agree that your current property is perfect for you now and in the future.

Equally you might decide that it is time to look at what the alternatives are. This doesn’t mean that you necessarily go ahead but looking at other options can be beneficial.

Option 1 – Making a change

If you do decide that you would like to look at some alternative properties then Abaco are happy to give you some estimates of how much the buying and selling process might be. There are costs you will incur for both parts of the procedure and it is important you are clear about these to help you decide on your purchasing budget. What is vital is that you do not sign anything before you have taken advice. This includes paying a deposit and signing the reservation contract. You,need a reputable legal firm, such as Abaco, to check that the owner is who you think it is, that there are no debts against the property and that it has been legally built.

Abaco can help to ensure that the process goes smoothly and that the timing of the sale and purchase do not create difficulties for you. Checking that everything is in order prior to paying your initial deposit can ensure that there are no sudden surprises holding up either contract.

Option 2 – Property renovations in Spain

If you’ve come to the decision that you’d rather not move but would like to make some improvements to your home, then Abaco can help with this too. It is important that you have the correct licences in place for even relatively small changes to your property.

Our legal department would be happy to discuss your plans with you and advise you on what measures you should take to put them in place.

It may be that your property is still perfect for you as it is. But if not, then perhaps now is the time to ensure that you make the changes you need to maintain the quality of life you would like.

We explain you what you need to take into account when renovating your property in Spain:

Finding a builder

Where do you begin when you want to find someone to do your property renovations in Spain? There are many advertisements and everyone promises they are legitimate and trustworthy but are they?

It can be difficult to find the right person in your own country but when you are dealing in another language and with different legal requirements the problem of finding a reputable builder, plumber, electrician or all three are multiplied.

Do your research

Our first piece of advice is to go by recommendation. Ask some local people who they have used and for their opinion. Don’t take the first one they suggest, however. Try and collect perhaps three or four names and then do your research.

  • You should check if they are registered. Builders and other skilled labour should have a company registration card (CIF number) or be registered as self- employed professional (Autonomo). Although this is not guarantee of their quality it does mean that they are registered for tax purposes. It is illegal to pay money to someone who isn’t.
  • Ask to see photos of their work. If possible, visit something they have completed and ask for a reference from the home owners. Has the builder done what they said they would do and finished on time? Delays and hold ups between jobs are often an issue.
  • You should ask for a written estimate of how much the job will cost from three sources. You are looking for good value for money, not someone who provides the cheapest quote and cuts corners. Is the builder insured and are the materials he is purchasing of good quality? Beware of anyone who comes in with a much lower quote. You might want to ask why.
  • You will be expected to pay some money at the beginning of the project to cover the cost of purchasing materials and getting it underway. However, you should not pay everything up front and there should always be a final payment due when the work is completed. Make sure you are fully satisfied with the work done before you pay this.

Do you have permission?

One problem that we often find at Abaco is that people do not understand that even for minor building works you need to have permission from the town hall.

Unfortunately there are cases where builders have assured their customers that they don’t need permission or that the correct licences have already been obtained when this isn’t the case.

The problem may not come to light immediately. It’s often when the home owner comes to sell their property or it is passed on through inheritance that the issue emerges and retrospective planning permission has to be applied for. In some cases the construction proves to be illegal and demolition or reversal of the work is required.

The town hall also carries out checks of specific areas on occasions. When unlicensed work is discovered there can then be a hefty fine. The builder who carried out the work is not responsible for having carried it out without the correct permission. It’s the home owner who carries the can.

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Ask the right questions

So, when you have collected your quotes and checked out the builders previous work there are one or two more questions that you might ask to make sure that you really are hiring the right person:

  • Do they have third party insurance?
  • Is obtaining any licences included in the price?
  • Are taxes and IVA (VAT) included?
  • Is it necessary to have an architect to draw up the project? This is required for larger building works
  • Does the cost cover obtaining the signing off of the work ‘el certificado de final de obra’ from the architect.
  • Is the builder carrying out all the work himself/ herself or will he employ others to help — how will they be supervised?
  • Where will the materials be obtained from and how will the quality be assured?

A reputable builder will be more than happy to supply the answers. If they are not then you might want to look again. In your enthusiasm to get the job done it can be tempting to take short cuts and trust that everything will be alright.

However, you live with your property renovations in Spain for a long time and engaging a cowboy outfit can be costly and lead to a disappointing, or even illegal, job done. It is worth taking the time to do your research and contract someone who will live up to expectations.

For a personal study of the possibilities to obtain the corresponding license for the works you have planned at your property, you can fill out this form and we will contact you as soon as possible.

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Barbara Baumeister

17 July, 2021 9:48 pm

Many thanx!
This was greatly helpful; as I am trying to learn all this before I travel to Spain
I have noted the name of Abacoadvisers & will contact in future

Barbara Baumeister
Gold Canyon Arizona/ USA

Oscar Paoli

25 July, 2021 10:01 pm

We are happy to read the content was useful for you.

Should you need anything please do not hesitate to contact us at or by phone at 0034 966703750.

With kind regards,

Ábaco Advisers