Building in the countryside: don’t take the risk

3 months in prison, a fine of 1.080€ and complete demolition of the house. That’s the sentence a Spanish-Belgium couple received from the Spanish judge afer building a house in the countryside. It wasn’t even a traditional house; it was a timber house that was placed upon a concrete slab, but that could not make the judge change his mind.

For anyone familiar with building practice in Spain this might come as a surprise. From my own 20 years of experience I can tell that I have seen numerous houses being built in the countryside where theoretically they could not be. Normally the “trick” would be to get a permit for a small storage building (“caseta”) as allowed by the local regulations and then slowly adapt it to what actually would be a house. As long as no allegations were presented, nothing happened or people would just take the risk of paying a fine and get away with it.

However, over the years things have changed. On the one hand, building regulations have become more strict on what can be allowed. In Catalonia it has become virtually impossible to build a new house in the countryside, whereas other regions apply much stricter regulations than before. On the other hand, municipal authorities are more and more controlled by the superior administration and don’t want to get “caught in the act” of closing their eyes for illegal building activities.

My best advice: don’t take the risk and inform yourself thoroughly about the do’s and don’ts!

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