Can I build a house on rustic land?

In this post ‘Build a house on rustic land in Catalonia’, I tell you what you can and cannot do on rustic land.
Five points will be enough to make you understand whether or not it is a good option to build a house on rustic land

In case you still don’t know us, let me introduce our studio: we’re ERA architects, the English speaking green architecture studio to call in Barcelona.
Actually, I’m Esther Rovira, an architect in Barcelona and a passive house designer for new sustainable builds and big green renovations in Barcelona and Catalonia.
In this post you’ll find all the essentials from our professional point of view.

I hope it helps you!


1) You can NOT build a house

If you have more than three hectares of land and you have an agricultural activity (high IAE); You can build a roof with storage use for tools of up to 100m2. This is only possible on land with agricultural use outside of areas cataloged as Natura 2020 or EIN. But in no case a house.

2) ‘But there is already a house built’

In that case, you should check if this building is in the Catalog of Masias de Catalunya.
Although the best thing is that you ask at the Town Hall itself (and you will have to wait for them to give you an appointment with the technician).
If this building or its ruins are not in the catalog of farmhouses, it means that it is either illegal, or that it is used as a warehouse.

3) ‘Can I build a warehouse and live there?’

Doing this is illegal and you will always be under suspicion from your neighbors and the forestry agents. If someone denounces you or the foresters pass by, they can denounce you, fine you and force you to pay the costs of restoring this natural environment.
In addition, you will not have the option of having fixed connections linked to domestic use, such as Wi-Fi linked to a fixed number.
(For instance; a kid who lived in a caravan was fined because he sent a landline to have internet).

4) ‘But the City Council tells me that I can’

Rare, veeeeeeeery rare.
If the land isn’t in a developable area but is rustic and/or forested (without any area for agricultural use), that land isn’t intended for building. This land is designed to be a natural space.
If the City Council tells you that you can, it is because it has an agricultural area, it is proposing to change the general urban plan through the Generalitat. This is a long, expensive process with NO guarantee of success; It is expensive because many reports are requested to reason that a house for private use can be built without damaging the natural environment.
They ask for reports such as: environmental impact, protected area for birds, flooding, landscape, affectation of livestock routes…
This is an inadvisable process, which costs from €30,000, lasts 3-4 years of your life and you never have any guarantee of being approved.
And if you decide to go all out, assume this expense and see what happens; it could be that they change the technician from the City Council who told you yes (or the mayor), or a technician from the territory of the Generalitat concludes that despite the reports it cannot be guaranteed not to damage the territory.
And it is that this territory is NOT designed to build or live.

5) ‘So I can’t do anything?’

If you haven’t bought it yet, you can look for other land (and believe me this is VERY good news).
If you have already bought it, you can buy a caravan and a portable Wi-Fi and spend the weekends there (and even then, not at all recommended, I doubt that it is legal in certain areas).


My professional recommendation:
If you do this because you don’t have money to buy urban or developable land (and also spend another €300,000 on the cost of construction); I do not recommend you enter into this other process of building on rustic land since it will undoubtedly be more expensive than the process that you have already ruled out.
If, on the contrary, you have a lot of cash flow and you have fallen in love with this land and all your guts tell you that it is possible; I recommend that you talk to the City Council technician in a transparent way and with a notebook to write down the answers to these questions about your possible land:
– is it within the Natura 2020 zone or EIN? (If he says yes: forget it! They are protected areas by the European Union and do not belong to you)
– What uses does this land have and how many m2 for each use?
– there are rights of way, paths, rivers, protected areas, protected vegetation
– What can I build according to urban or rural regulations?
– Where can I find all these plans and regulations that you have told me about?
If after this meeting you still see possibilities, I recommend contacting a specialist law firm (who will charge you €250/hr).

You may also be interested in:
Our other post: Differences between Urbano land, urbanizable and no-urbanizable
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I hope this post ‘Build a house on rustic land Catalonia’ has helped you.
Best of luck on this adventure.
See you on the next post,


Founder of ERA architects 

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