Ruin with a View

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I’ve established there is a lot of rural land for sale in Andalucia, specifically in Cádiz which has me hooked. So how hard can it be to buy a small piece and put a house on it? Quite hard, as it turns out, although not insurmountable if you are patient and thorough.
I’m neither, but I am very attracted by doing things which are inherently difficult and exhausting, and I have this idea about steering the design of my own home.
On an afternoon out with Manolo and Molino we ricocheted up a track and stopped at the top of a hill that was for sale. A big problem around these parts – for budget shoppers – is that a land parcel has to be above a minimum size in order to be legally recognised and registered as an independent property. Furthermore, the buildable area of that plot (in these parts) is generally limited to 1% although it varies between municipalities, and depending on whether you intend to be farming and irrigating, and on whether there is already a property, or remains of a property on the site. Until 2012, it was generally understood that a ruin could be rebuilt as long as the land that went with it was above the minimum plot size, but that’s no longer the case. Some say you’ll get the permit to rebuild as long as the ruin still has a roof. If the land is very big, you don’t even need a ruin. That’s not to say that an application to build won’t fall at any one of the multiple fences along the long obstacle course that follows.
So at first glance, the rules around buying rural plots are as clear as mud.
Anyway, this piece of land – which belongs to Manolo’s uncle, and lies outside the tricksy national park boundaries, was big enough for a splendid house. Molino pointed in the general area of the perimeters with his cane; no-one could be bothered to walk any further.
Unfortunately, while the pile of rubble at the peak offered million euro views, after buying our estate we would only have around €200 spare to build the dream house. I was seriously tempted to have this big grassy hill and use it as a most extravagant personal campsite, but came to my senses.

I should add that once you resign yourself to a long session of careful research, the rationale behind restricting the building on rural land, the basic governing regulations, and the series of steps involved in moving through an application to build become clear. Never try a shortcut.

There are several good sources of information online for both English and Spanish speakers. Perhaps start with or John Wolfendale’s introduction to it all at eco vida, but you should read the section headed Suelo no Urbanizable in the Boletín Oficial de la Junta de Andalucia, 12 Nov 2012 which spells it all out, and if your Spanish isn’t up to it, find someone who can translate it for you . . . and brush up your language skills fast.

Really though, as the minimum size of land and maximum size of build, interpretation of what constitutes a rebuildable ruin and so on vary considerably between areas, it’s important to do your specific research in the specific area. Nothing is as revealing as a trip to the local town hall where, in my experience, people have been unfailingly helpful and done much to demystify what is not actually a muddy process, just a long one. However, aside from the vendor, no-one wants your new-build house on the local rural land. That’s the position you start from.


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