The Value of an Independent Building Plot Appraisal by Experienced Architect

I think in our business an evaluation of the building plot before our clients buy is one of the most important things we do. It’s essential for our clients, probably more than they think, and it gives us a chance to show case who we are.

In the article below I describe why it’s so essential for the purchaser of the plot. It’s also true that we benefit from offering this service.

It’s an opportunity for us to demonstrate who we are. You see, this is not just about designing and building a villa. There are many capable architects available who can do that. It’s about how we design and build the villa. It’s about personal style and caring about what we do. Offering a free plot appraisal is a way for us to begin to develop a relationship with our clients and that includes being on their side pointing out the problems a plot may have as well as the benefits.

Buying the Plot – The Danger Point

When you buy land in Spain you buy it “as seen” defects and all. It is no exaggeration to say that sellers will go to great lengths to conceal defects and they certainly won’t declare any they know about. In Spain there is no obligation to disclose on the part of the seller. It sometimes seems like pass the parcel. The hapless vendor is trying to sell a defective plot on to the next unaware foreigner hoping that the newcomer, like the current owner, won’t find out about the problems.

I am afraid we have come across at least one case where a plot was for sale and building on it is effectively impossible. There was one a few years ago with a mains sewerage pipe underneath it that did not show up on any plans or legal documents and that initial conversations with the local authority did not reveal. In fact we were only informed by looking through the file held by the local authority and ringing a topographer who had done a job on the plot years previously and who hadn’t been paid. So he told us about the pipe and asked us not to tell anyone how we found out.

This is an extreme example but the message is be very very cautious.

Another recent example was for an “urban” plot surrounded by up-market villas in a clean and tidy area. Superficially everything looked good, including the paperwork, and the price was attractive. However research revealed that although the plot had been designated for development in the 2010 Marbella plan, it was was outside the zone marked for development in the 1986 Marbella plan. It’s the 1986 Marbella plan that counts because the 2010 plan has been rescinded. Maybe one day, when a new plan is agreed (think years!) the plot will be buildable.

I am sure a good lawyer would have discovered this and prevented a purchaser from buying the plot without being aware. The point is that the seller and the sellers agent must have been aware of it but they said nothing. At best they were wasting everyone’s time and at worst they were hoping that someone would buy the plot without finding out and that strikes me as unethical.

Our clients were very keen to buy the plot. Happily they didn’t.

Here are some more articles on buying land safely in Spain
Buying Plots of Land Safely in Spain

Advice on Buying Plots of Land in Spain

Can you build what you want to on that plot?

When we meet you at a plot we will be looking at access, neighbours, what the neighbours might do in the future, topography, orientation, views and many many other things.

Talking to you we discuss the layout, orientation, views, where you might have breakfast, watch the sunset and so on.

We also check out the regulations that relate to that particular plot. This is public knowledge you or your lawyer can check but it needs to be accurate and it needs to be understood in the context of everything else including the physical characteristics of the plot what you want to do on the plot
I am afraid estate agents don’t know and are too busy to find out. To be fair it’s not their job and they are not qualified to do the work.

Lawyers are useful but they are like the Olympic torch – they never go out! They just stay behind the desk looking at papers.

I am afraid nothing can replace the advice of an experienced architect, who has an understanding of what you want, meeting you on the site looking at the regulations (maximum volume, height, footprint, distance from boundaries) in situ. We will give you a professional opinion of the plot warts and all. The value of this advice before you reach the point of no return with your plot is vital.

Is it within your budget?
If it looks like you might want to buy a plot we will produce a spreadsheet that covers all the costs, build costs, taxes and professional fees. These are necessarily broad estimates but it’s the best we can do without a design and specification. You have a list of all the items so even though some may be guestimates at this stage there are no nasty surprises later. Also you can ask us questions and get a feel for where the uncertainties are and what affect they could have on the overall cost. If you like we can help you negotiate the right price for the . You may find this article useful.

Author: John Wolfendale
Bio: John is a founder of Eco Vida Homes and is passionate about bringing modern design and construction practices to Spain. He believes a home which is warm in winter and cool in summer is largely a matter of design and selective use of materials. He is British and a Chartered Surveyor with over 24 years experience living and working in Spain.
Author: Eco Vida Homes is a team of Architects, Technical Architects, Builders, an Engineer, and a Chartered Surveyor. We help people design and build beautiful energy efficient home, designed for Mediterranean living, in Marbella and Southern Spain. There are two things that make us stand out: a sharp focus on our clients’ needs and everything we build is comfortable and energy efficiency………..It’s like Grand Designs………… only without the drama.

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