Building a house in Gran Canaria

Building work in Gran Canaria

Building a house or restoring an old one can be quite a daunting task, but if you have the patience it can work out a lot cheaper than buying a new one, however with all things in Gran Canaria there are a few tricks that will save you money and unknown fines.

1. Building permits
You can do work minor inside your house without permission and you can put up temporary structures (sheds, fences) in your garden without permission, everything else theoretically requires a trip to your local town hall to request a building permit (permiso de obra).

There are two types of building work here small work (small restorations, garages …) called obra menor and larger building projects called obra menor, if you go to your local town hall urbanismo department they will tell you which one your project is.

If you live in a house in a town built on urban land (zona urbana) your permit will be handled by the local authorities. It will cost you about 5% of the value of the work and will take about 6 months to be issued. Most people underestimate the value of the work to pay less tax.

If you live in the country or in an older house the process is a little more complicated. You apply for the permit in your local town hall in the department of urbanismo, they will send it to the Cabildo to get government authorisation who will then send it back to the town hall who will authorise the permit. The cost is 5% of the value of the work but can take up to 2-3 years!!! (I am not joking as I speak from personal experience)

To apply for any permit you will need

  • Your NIE
  • The application form
  • An anteproyecto (summary of your building work) provided by your architect and stamped by the colegio de arquitectos
  • Photos of the work
  • The escritura of he house
  • A receipt saying the taxes and the deposit (20% of the value of the work) have been paid into the bank.

It is important you get a good, trustworthy architect to plan your build and fill in the relevant forms, a bad architect can end up costing you a small fortune. One family in GC employed an architect to plan their kitchen rebuild but instead of applying for a licence to rebuild the old kitchen the architect applied for a licence to build a new kitchen. This minor mistake cost 1000s of euros in legal fees and delays in finishing the building of years. To find a suitable architect have a look at our directory of architects, many are personally recommended by users.

This will be the hardest choice you have to make. Builders here can be excellent, they can work hard and do fantastic work, however there are also some total cowboys. One family in Telde had a new bathroom built and they had the structure built out of cement, when the builder had finished all the tiling and had polished all the taps he went to leave but couldn’t fit the cement mixer through the brand new door! The wall had to be smashed down and the bathroom re-tiled just to get the cement mixer out.
When choosing a builder, interview and get quotes from at least three, speak to previous clients and look at previous work. If you don’t have a recommended builder have a look at our directory, all the builders are personally recommended by users and you can often contact the user to see the work they’ve done.

Doors, windows, patios often need carpenters. Just like builders there are some very good ones and some very bad ones. Have a look at our directory before you contract someone you don’t know.

Where to buy building material
Most English speakers buy all their building materials from Leroy Merlin in Telde as many of the staff speak English. Leroy Merlin is a good place to start, however doing a bit of shopping around can save you a lot of money.

Bathrooms / Kitchens
– have a look in the tile shops in El Goro inbetween the airport and Telde, they have huge selections and often have bargains. If you need tiles go to the offers section where they sell tiles which are low in stock, you can often get up to 50% off. IKEA is a bit of a favourite for kitchens and they will do a 3D plan for you. To save money get IKEA to do the plan and then ask a carpenter to build it for you, not only will it be cheaper but the wood will be a lot better and won’t fall apart.

Hardware stores (Ferreterias) these are smaller DIY stores located in most towns. If you build up a good rapport with your local ferreteria they will often give discounts and are will give you proper advice for your building.

For advice on where to buy furniture have a look at our shopping guide.

Cost of building a house

Obviously the cost of building your own house in Gran Canaria varies according to the size and quality of the house and piece of land, and its location. But whatever the type of house and wherever the land is, you will need to take the following inevitable expenses into account:

  • Architect: Any house built in Spain must comply with local construction norms and plans must be designed and signed by a qualified architect. He or she will charge anything from 6% (minimum) to 10% of the overall building cost.
  • Aparejador: This is the person who oversees the building process, making sure that the plans are respected and the materials described in the original project are used. He usually charges from 1 to 2 percent of the overall building cost. The architect might be able to recommend an aparejador.
  • Building materials: These will be described in detail in the memoria de calidades and should be agreed between you and the architect before you meet with the aparejador and the builders. It is important to detail all building materiales in the memoria, because then the builders can be held accountable for any omissions or errors.
  • Licencia de obra: your building permit will cost between 4 and 5% construction costs.
  • Declaration of New Building: 0,5%
  • Safety study: 0,8%
  • Geological Report (not always necessary): 1%
  • First occupation permit: 0,5%
  • Extra expenses: You also need to take into account the unavoidable extra costs which come from buying a house in Gran Canaria. These include the services of legal advisors, translators, taxes, possible mortgage expenses and, most importantly, the services of a notary. The notario is the person responsible for drawing up the deeds (escritura), the tax due (registro catastral) and the registration of the names of the new owners in the Spanish property register (registro de la propiedad). and tax register (registro catastral); he charges fees to the vendor and purchaser, according to a fee schedule set by the government Translators: However much you fall in love with a property in Spain, you should avoid relying on the services of a translator provided by your Spanish Estate Agent who is keen to sell the property as quickly and at the highest price possible, and then move on to the next sale. Contact a local translation company and pay for your own translator – services are not expensive and are well worth paying for to protect your own interests.

Legal advice: Take care and get legal advice before signing any documents. Alot of property in Gran Canaria is sold before building has even started, in which case you will need to get proof of planning permission and plans of the property itself, and often foreign people sign contracts thinking they are expressing a formal interest in building plans whereas in fact they are legally binding themselves to a house sale.

The building
Choose your builder well, there are many very very bad builders on the island. Only go with recommended builders, if you are stuck have a look at our list of builders that we can personally recommend. They have done work for us and have done it well and at a reasonable price.

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