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Once you have bought your rural property, you are likely to want to, or probably need to renovate it.

If you have bought an old property with a large amount of land, it's tempting to think that you can build a massive country house on the site of the old building, and maybe put in a few other houses on the property to sell off or rent. This is unlikely to be possible, as if the house is designated in it's escritura (deeds) as 'Rustico' land, then it is labelled as rural land that is only allowed to have a property of a certain square meterage on it, in proportion to the size of the land. Usually, the house that is on the land is as large as you are allowed to rebuild to, and you cetainly would not be able to build more property on the land and sell it off, as it would not have an escritura, and so it would be unsellable. If you're looking to buy some land, it's important to know before you buy, what you can actually do with it.

When renovating a rustic property, it's also vitally important to know whether mains water, electricity and a phone line can be connected to the building. Water is not so much of a problem, as you can drill pump driven wells on the property, or share a water deposit, but electricity can be cripplingly expensive to bring onto the property if the nearest pylon is miles away. Telephones and internet can be brought in by radio or satellite systems, but these can be very pricey to install and maintain.

Within villages, where the property is within an urbanisation, and there are no problems building, it is still vital to have local knowledge. Planning and building laws can literally change on a weekly basis, and it's important to get a builder who has a good working relationship with the local town hall (ayundamiento). With the amount of building work that goes on in Spain, and some of the odd houses you see around, it's easy to assume that it's just a free for all, which it may have been in the past, but that is changing rapidly.

All building work that alters the structure of a building, or causes an external change to a building requires a building licence from the town hall, even a swimming pool. As in Britain, you will be personally liable for all damage or injury caused by your building work or builders. Therefore it is vitally important that you get fully licenced and insured builders to do your work for you.

When approaching a building project or renovation, a lot of people would be very wary of using a spanish builder. They do have an appalling reputation, and the language barrier is offputting. To be honest, there are as many, if not more, good, reputable Spanish builders as there are English ones. In some cases, a Spanish builder may have the advantage over an English one, as they will probably have more experience of the building materials and methods particular to building in a Spanish climate, and may be better suited to dealing with the local town hall. If you use an English builder, check how long they have been established, and ask how fluent their Spanish is.

We can recommend a fully legal and insured building firm for any projects and the services of an architect here in Cuevas De San Marcos for planning. We also offer a project management service to oversee any renovations or building work while you are not present.

Another thing to bear in mind with renovations is that if you demolish a building to rebuild it, then the resulting new property will be liable for a sales tax of 16%, as it counts as a new building. There are ways to mitigate this by using parts of the original wall structure in the new build, and an experienced builder and architect will be able to advise you on helping to avoid tax and revaluing issues.

Finally, if you are renovating your property to re-sell it, then it is vital that you realise that unless you have residence status in Spain, you will be liable for a hefty capital gains tax on the sale of your property, unless you are reinvesting it in another Spanish Property. Also, don't forget that you can offset all of the costs of your renovation against your sales tax when you sell, so hang on to your receipts for every bit of building work, and make sure you get proper I.V.A. (VAT) receipts.