Buyer's Guide
Costa Tropical
"When we decided to sell our first house and wanted to buy a second property we did not hesitate to contact Martin. He has access to  such a wide range of properties for all price ranges and locations in the beautiful Costa Tropical. He keeps you informed throughout the whole process and offers other services alongside, including renting your property if you wish to do so. I would recommend his services to anybody who is serious about wanting to buy a property in Spain and wants a good professional to make it happen."

Case Study 1

Illustrates what you might realistically discover and experience when your dream is to build your own bespoke villa on Spain's Costa Tropical.

On building a villa on the Costa Tropical by B & K Simmons

Having decided that the Costa Tropical was the area we really wanted to call home and settle too we first began to look for land to build our dreamhome. Like many people with such a vision, we very soon realised that this was not going to be as easy as we had thought, nor from all the publicity at home that we had been told it would be.

Four years ago now we started our search by looking at the various luxury villas in the area; and while many we visited were of superb quality and finish, with stunning views of the coast, for ourselves there was always something not quite "ticking all the boxes" as they say these days. Either the room distribution was just not right, or the kitchen too small, not enough bathrooms to bedrooms, or worse some of the bedrooms were just too small for our purposes. After the first 6 months dividing our time between the UK and Salobreña  we finally, though reluctantly, took a long term villa rental in Monte de los Almendros, that we found through the very helpful staff at Tropicana, a real estate agency based in the heart of Almuñecar. From our new but temporary base, and with three children settled at the International school, we again concentrated our minds - this time to look for that ideal plot to build our house.

For us, the prime concerns were "breathtaking" sea views, space for a pool, and enough garden for the dogs our children had adopted. We had thought this to be an easy request, but alas, not! For us rural land was not an option; we did not want acres to manage in order to build our villa - and so we began to look for urban plots but with the price per square metre here exceeding even London borough prices it was clear that was going to be a hurdle. We set a budget of 250,000 Euros for a minimum of 1,000m2 plot of land; and having done much research, deliberately avoided rural or rustic plots. After many months of searching for that blank canvas on which to build - Tropicana suggested that we also look at older homes that we could then extend. We finally decided to purchase a small one bedroom house built in the 60s with more than 1,200 metres of established [sic] and overgrown terraced garden located on an established urbanisation between Almuñecar and Salobreña. With legal costs and taxes we had little change from 300,000 Euros... that was October 2005.

Again, with the help of the team at Tropicana and our lawyer we were advised to contact a local architect, and with their help too we employed a translator to assist us in getting across the finer details of what we wanted from our new home.  Things appeared to be going quite well, and after just 4 meetings with the architect the plans and designs were drafted and approved by us. Then came the timely process of obtaining the permissions - and in line with new regulations for the construction of urban property in Spain - we soon found that we needed to budget for additional costs we had not factored in to our budget. The greatest surprises being the 10 years builders guarantee, which though not obligatory for a private individual's project is now an issue if you need to sell the property in the next 10 years [#1] (cost approx. 8-10,000 Euros),  the geo-technical study of the land (5-6,000 Euros),  and the new regulations to incorporate environmental issues [#2]. Not withstanding were the costs of the architects work and also the fees of the town hall for the licence application [#3] and the aval (a refundable security deposit) they claimed from us too.

10 months on from the initial purchase and we now have our quotations from the builders and structural engineers; have paid a little over 30,000 Euros to cover the 10 year guarantee, the architect, part 1 of the licence application and the geo-technical study. And now our Spanish bank has offered a mortgage to assist us if we want... They are offering a structured mortgage where payments are made to us once each stage of the build is complete and signed off. This may be helpful if and when we need - but the quotes we have are good and reasonable given the amount of re-construction and extension. From a small property of just 65 square metres built we will have a two storey home of more than 280 square metres with pool, terraces, garage, car-port, entertainment room in the basement and a barbecue bar!

On November 22 2006 the diggers arrived and they finally began to clear the garden, to begin the work on the structure and to open up the existing property. It was now time to start shopping for the fixtures and fittings, doors, tiles or marble, the lists were endless... and yet exciting all the same. Under floor heating, heated pool, sockets, phone points, domotic installations, wi-fi, all were considered; and eventually factored in as the house progressed and the budget rose.

In September 2007, and despite the long-haul, the raised voices, the odd tantrum, builders mix ups (which were much fewer than my wife and I had expected - and probably due to the fact that each day my wife and I were on-site for a couple of hours) and the various bureaucratic inspections... we have finally moved in to our dream. Would we do it again, hard to say. But we do have a house that is everything and more than we ever expected, is perfect in almost every way - my wife would have liked higher ceilings - if only to exagerate, even moreso, those "breathtaking" sea views we have!

Next month we are going to christen the house and hold a barbecue party. We will be sure to invite all our friends at Tropicana - without whose imagination, advice, enthusiasm, knowledge and constant ear bending we would not now have our beautiful bespoke home in the sun made real.


#1 - As of 2007 Spanish banks will no longer offer a full mortgage valuation on any new building that does not have evidence of a 10 year builders guarantee in place at the time of the original construction.

#2 - Since September 2007; one of the main criteria in obtaining approval to build a property in Spain is that the dwelling must be a minimum of 20% energy self sufficient. Therefore you will need to incorporate new technologies such as solar panels, water treatment recycling and treated glazing for heat-cool conservation.

#3 - It is important to check with the local town hall what are the fees for the building licence as some areas and towns charge very different rates. Villages, generally tend to be much cheaper at between 1-2.5% of the cost of the building planned. In Almuñecar & La Herradura the rate is set at 6.2%, while in Salobreña at 5.1%. It is normal too to be asked to pay 50% of the fees when the planning application is submitted to the town hall architect's department; with the balance due on completion of the build. Some authorities will also request an aval (deposit) that is refundable once the work is finished and the occupation licence and property registration completed. The aval can be from a couple of thousand Euros, to much more - depending on location of the property, public works and utilities nearby, roads, pavements, lighting etc. The aval is usually refunded in full within 6 months of the registration assuming that no damage has occurred to parts of the local auhority infracstructure.

Edit 11.2013