Buy a house in Spain? Or build your own?: The pros and cons

The decision to buy a house in Spain is an exciting step towards transforming your lifestyle, but it’s not the only option for a new home in the sun.

Buying a house in Spain is certainly very appealing, but you may be able to save money over the long-term and get a home that’s everything you’ve always dreamed it would be and more by building one yourself.

But building is not for everyone either, so Eco Vida Homes is here to help you in your decision-making process: buy a villa in Spain or build one?

Buy a house in Spain: The benefits

Bathroom view from a villa in Spain

When you’re considering investing in a home, it helps with the decision-making process when you can actually see and touch the house you want to buy.

When the house already exists, you know exactly what you’re getting for your money, which is valuable compared to the intangibility of building one (assuming there are no hidden defects in the house that will come to light down the line).

If you’re not in a rush, you may be able to time the purchase to the market, giving you more flexibility to negotiate a good price. And of course, once the deal is done, it’s possible you’ll be able to move in right away.

There’s usually no need to worry about connecting to sewage systems, water, electricity, etc., whereas these things need to be considered from the outset when building.

If you want to live close to a particular area (where you work or a good school, for example), buying an existing home is a far more viable option because there may not be land to build on.

There may be some renovations to do, but there’s far less work (and imagination) involved in buying a house in Spain – although it’s not all plain sailing…

Reasons not to buy a house in Spain

Bear in mind that commercial developments are usually built with the ultimate goal of selling for a profit, so it’s in the developer’s interest to minimise costs and make it look as (superficially) attractive as possible for the biggest return.

However, this may not result in a home that’s comfortable year-round for the buyer. You won’t be able to break into the structure to check the insulation quality or see if there are any troublesome defects like thermal bridges, which destroy any effect insulation might have.

If the house is older, you could soon find yourself with hefty repair bills right out of the gate, and you may need to renovate or build an extension to increase its value. On top of the insulation, there could be poor building materials lurking underneath the surface that will create maintenance problems in the short term (damp, peeling paint, etc.)

Ultimately, when you buy a house in Spain, you’re buying a property that was built to someone else’s specifications. Finding a house or villa in Spain that’s exactly as you’ve always imagined it is easier said than done.

Did you see yourself sitting in a specific spot on the patio where you can read the newspaper overlooking the pool? Have you always dreamed of a dining room that can be opened up so you can enjoy lunch with views of the Mediterranean?

When you look at houses for sale in Spain, it may not only lack some of the specificities you’d always hoped for, but you’ll also be buying features you’re not particularly interested in.

And when a great house comes on the market in Spain, you’re probably not going to be the only interested party. You could find yourself in a bidding war with another buyer, meaning if you really want it, you may end up needing to up your offer, shrinking your potential paper profit.

Why design and build your own villa in Spain?

A view like this is not always possible when you buy a house in Spain

Designing and building your own home is a life-affirming experience. There’s something innate in our psychology that makes it especially fulfilling. And it’s far more than building a home. It’s transforming your way of living.

The point is that you get exactly what you want, the layout, orientation, appearance, and so on are all exactly tuned to your lifestyle. If you buy a house you have to put up with what is there.

Being handed the keys to a house you bought is a pretty special feeling, but walking through the doors of your own custom-built villa in Spain is something else entirely.

Whether you want a car park on the roof or a cinema in the basement, you can make it happen (assuming you have the budget). But finding a home to buy for the right price with every single thing on your wishlist can prove much trickier, especially if you have a specific location in mind.

You’ll get a lot of personal value from a home you design yourself. Every feature is there because you wanted it there, and you’re not paying for a room you only walk into a few times a month.

There’s no better way to make your home meet your own personal standards than by designing it into the bones of the house. You may want a healthy environment free from toxic paints, air purification in every room, well-thought-out ergonomics or energy efficiency. Being in control of all this will not only make your home more comfortable, but it will save you money on energy bills over the long term.

The pitfalls of building your own villa

When you buy a house in Spain, you avoid a lot of work like this

It goes without saying that building a house in Spain is riskier and comes with a higher degree of uncertainty.

You’re probably familiar with television shows like Grand Designs, which follows all the drama faced by the client and their team in bringing their dream home to life.

A big part of what we do at Eco Vida Homes is to leverage our years of experience in building beautiful, energy-efficient homes in Spain to prevent problems before they even occur. So with the right team, it’s entirely possible to have a pleasant experience seeing your home go from a few ideas to reality.

It’s also worth noting that television shows need to emphasise the drama to keep the viewer’s attention, whereas we think you’ll have a better time by avoiding it altogether.

One of the biggest uncertainties when building your own house in Spain is the cost. Of course, when buying a home, you might end up going over budget, but you’ll have a pretty clear idea of what you’ll be able to get for your money by comparing similar villas in the area.

But until you’ve assessed the plot of land and hired an architect, the cost of building a house in Spain is harder to calculate. Among other things, you have to factor in site preparation, retaining walls, taxes, professional fees… there’s a lot to consider before you can come out with a definitive price – and even then, things can happen that might mean you have to reconsider your budget.

We understand this uncertainty can be a huge factor in your decision between buying a home in Spain or building your own, so we put together our Back of the Envelope guide to try to make things a little clearer. Get in touch and we’ll send you a copy!

Is building a house in Spain a wise investment?

A villa in Spain at night

If you get it right and properly assess the financial viability of the project, you can expect to make a paper profit on your home from the outset. After all, commercial property developers make a profit so you should expect to make a similar profit when you build a home

When you build your own home, you oversee your team building a house with longevity in mind, which protects the value of your investment. When buying a home, you’d be doing very well to see a profit from day one.

The key to protecting your investment when building a house in Spain is to set expectations carefully at the beginning and to have an independent evaluation of your plot before you buy.

The middle ground: Renovating

Somewhere between buying a villa and building one from scratch is finding an older property and renovating a house in Spain.

Similar to buying a house in Spain, you get to see and touch the building, but you don’t necessarily know what you’re getting because there may be serious issues that won’t come to light until work has begun. This can make the costs even harder to calculate than building a house from scratch (although it’s more likely you can do some of the work yourself and save money that way).

If you’re struggling to find land in the area of Spain you want to live in, and houses for sale aren’t quite ticking all the boxes – a renovation might be the answer. Retrofitting a traditional Spanish property to feature all the mod cons makes for a unique home, which you’d struggle to find with any real estate agent.

Whether you buy a home in Spain or build one, there’s a lot that goes into making your home a good fit for you.

Of course, whichever way you’re leaning, this isn’t a decision to take lightly and you really need to run the numbers and get some professional advice to make sure you’re doing what’s best for you and your lifestyle.

Still undecided? Get in touch with Eco Vida Homes for a no-obligation chat on what’s the best way to make your home in Spain happen.

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