June 10, 2019
Now that we have successfully completed our home purchase in Spain, the next phase is in progress which is renovating our Valencia flat. This phase involves modernising the flat. It’s not that it was in a horrible state, it had obviously been well cared for. We just want it refreshed a bit. The apartment had stood empty for almost two years as the old woman had been moved into an assisted facility after her husband passed away. Here is how the home renovation is going.
Renovating our Valencia property has been awesome so far:
Our Spanish home remodel started in earnest the day after we signed the papers with the Notary. It might surprise you to know that our house papers etc consists of about five pages, the most important of which is the Nota Simple.
What is a nota simple? This is the actual paper that shows the property is registered with the city. It states the rightful owner(s) name, any mortgage or debts owned such as unpaid taxes etc.. It will also state any other rights on the property, for instance sewage lines, public roads and so forth. Once you have paid your transfer fee as written in the Spanish home purchase post, an updated nota simple is issued to the new owner.
Prior to closing, we had secured a contractor to do our house remodel. We found him through a friend. An architect by profession, he also does house remodelling contracting work. His price seemed fair for what we needed done. It was a waiting game as to when we would close because we were at the mercy of the city and unfortunately, there were about four different holidays (so many patron saints with their own holidays).
Spanish Building Regulations:
In order to do any refurbishing work on property in Spain, a permit is required. There are two kinds of permit:
- permits for minor construction work
- permits for major construction work
The costs for the permits are calculated based on the total price of the construction work. Our permit was obtained by our architect/contractor and was included in his bid. Our NIE (resident card) was required to obtain the minor works permit. Once he had that in hand, it was time to start knocking down the walls.
The building consists of seven floors, and has a small elevator which is the norm in Spain. The elevators can only hold about four people at a time and any large objects like sofas etc. must be carried up the stairs. Another motivation for us to reuse things that were left behind.
Our Spanish Reforma:
Reforma is basically what we call a remodel or refurbishment in the States. The biggest part of our remodel was knocking the walls between the passage way and living room and incorporating the small third bedroom into the living room. This was the very first thing done, and right away we knew it was a good idea upon seeing how much larger and brighter the space was.
The old moulding had to come down because there was no way they were going to find the same type moulding. The floor tiles were in immaculate condition and it would have been awesome had we been able to find matching tiles. We did find a few in one of the storage spaces, but not enough.
Since we had opted to paint the whole apartment a creme colour, we chose to go with the same sized creme tiles, and make it an accent. Replacing the whole flooring would have been a thorough waste of money. We also chose to reuse the bedroom door. Since the flat has only one full bathroom, there was no ensuite master bedroom. Putting the door at the end of the long hallway essentially will turn the master bedroom into a suite.
In the kitchen, we will be changing out the really ancient oven, stovetop with only 2 burners working and hood. We had thought of getting a new fridge, but once we plugged it in and saw that it works perfectly, we decided to keep it.
Save for new appliances, to give it some pep, all is well.
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The guest bedroom will mostly stay untouched as well. Painting and removing part of the furniture so we could place a TV and computer there. I was very happy to see that the room had an office desk, but no proper chair. I had an office chair but no desk, so it was meant to be.
The master bedroom is getting painted and will have a new light fixture. We are going to keep the wardrobe and headboard set. They may be old fashioned, but they are perfectly functional and heavy. They must have cost a pretty penny back when they were purchased. Very solid quality.
The back gallery balcony got the new gutter already. Hopefully, we will be able to train the dogs to pee there in between their walks. We are not letting them on the front balcony until they use this exclusively.
So far we are two weeks into our three week flat renovation and it is actually going very well, all things considered. There are four workers including the painter. They seem to be hardworking. My gripe so far has been their lack of attention to protecting the furniture etc. I have had to complain as they have used chairs as ladders, not covered the furniture properly and smoking while working. Riot act read!
We can’t wait for the home remodel to be finished so we can finally make it our own place. It feels a bit strange to have a permanent home in Valencia. Considering that two years ago, the thought of owning property again never crossed our minds. If you are contemplating a move to Spain, grab your copy of our ebook here on Amazon now which explains all the steps, funds and life in Spain to start you off on the right foot.
Property Taxes in Spain:
For comparison, our property tax on our sold Houston house was slightly more than $9700 annually and that was with the homestead deduction. More expensive real estate taxes in Texas because there is no state tax. On this property, our projected property taxes will be about €350 ($395) per year, up from the current €221 that they pay currently.
We have purchased home insurance, opting for the top of the line coverage. One that would provide free round trip tickets from wherever in the world if we happen to be on vacation and the house has a problem among the other perks. Total cost? €176 for the year! ($199). This is just music to our ears. You know from our cost of living that we pay so little for our car insurance as well. Once we’ve had bills from here, I will write a new Spain monthly expense breakdown from a homeowner’s perspective.
We should be done in another week, which will put us about six days past the promised time. Not too shabby at all assuming they’re right. I am grateful there were no big things that came up and added to our costs. They had rising damp in the small bathroom but that was fixed at the sellers expense while we were in escrow.
Things to know before remodelling a flat in Spain:
- Planning ahead is a must. Often the house will be in chaos. You might want to move out while the renovation is being done. In our case, it made sense to extend our lease a couple of months while we got things sorted.
- Make sure you get the right permits for the job being done.
- Make sure the workers adhere to the working times. Construction can not start before 8am.
- Try and annoy your neighbours as little as possible. For instance, our contractor made sure his workers covered the elevator floors and sides while the construction was happening and did most of the heavy lifting during siesta hours when there is little use of it by the residents.
- Put some money aside for extra. It’s inevitable that you will add things as you move along, or you might change your mind about certain things. That extra cushion will save you from having to do another remodel in the future.
- Be patient. “Manana” really is a thing here. Workmen will show up hours later than promised, tell you they will come after their two hour lunch (when they are already two hours late!) and so on. It’s just the way it is.
- Go for quality items. They last longer.
- Check out second hand stores for solid items at really nice prices. We have been pleasantly surprised.
- Remodel with you in mind. This is not like back at home where you think you can remodel, flip and make a huge profit. You might be in for a rude awakening.
- If you don’t speak the language, find an interpreter and make sure to use someone reliable and recommended highly by others. There is a lot that can be lost in translation, leading to harsh words.
Thoughts on our Valencia flat remodel:
In my old life in the States, I can say without a doubt that l would have never considered keeping any of the furniture and other items left behind by the previous owners (well, I did do that once in Hollywood, but only because the owners made props for movies. Would you throw out a chair from the Gunsmoke set? or duplicate ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz? I didn’t think so! :-) ).
My old excitement at shopping for things is completely toned down. We went looking for the stovetop and oven at the department stores and were bored after ten minutes. We ended up just ordering from a catalog that the contractor had. No fuss, no muss. Living with less has become a way of life and we don’t care to keep up with the latest shiny new things. A revelation for me personally as l thought it would come right back.
It was however, fun shopping for a new bed. The dimensions of the rooms in Spain often make it impossible to get a king sized bed. This room has enough space to put one in and still move around. Yay for that! The dogs love it too as they can have their bed at the bottom of the bed, a luxury that we didn’t have at any of the previous places. I will share pictures of the new digs once we are done.
Have you ever done a home remodel? Was it a fun experience that you would repeat again?