Sometimes imagination flies and we cannot help but imagine ourselves on the terrace of our new home admiring the landscape while the sun caresses our face and the water in the pool refreshes our feet. Certainly, it is impossible not to be seduced by the typical Majorcan rural landscape, decorated by ancient olive trees, lone carob trees, and picturesque almond trees, where it seems that time stands still.
Acquiring a plot that houses all this natural beauty is clearly the first step in fulfilling your dream of building an idyllic country house in this timeless Mediterranean paradise. Like almost everything in life, the achievement of this dream must follow an order, because dreams may not change, but building regulations do. Good proof of this is the recent decree-law 09/2020 of 25th May approved by the Balearic Island Government with the rules and standards that will dictate the housing construction on rustic land from now on. In this changing situation, doing things calmly and informing yourself about the new building regulations will allow to experience earlier those moments you now long for.
Firstly, and before buying a plot, you should consider the soil type or category you want to build on, as rustic land in Majorca has different qualifications and not all of them allow urban development. The new regulation maintain the prohibition to build in the Natural Areas of Special Interest of High Protection Level (AANP), the Natural Areas of Special Interest (ANEI), the Rural Areas of Forest Landscape Interest (ARIP-B), the Territorial Protection Areas (APT) and the Transition Growth Areas (AT-C), extending now this prohibition to the Risk Prevention Areas (SRP-APR). That is, to those areas with potential risk of flood, fire, erosion or landslide. Previously, the Insular Territorial Plan of Majorca contemplated a conditioned use of the land plots placed in Risk Prevention Areas (SRP-APR). In terms of the land area, it was allowed a maximum of living space and of sealed surface of 2% and 3% respectively. However, with the implementation of the new decree, the construction of new single-family homes is strictly forbidden on those plots located entirely in this type of areas.
Secondly, the minimum plot size required to build on common rural land (SRG) must be taken into account. The new legislation has not introduced any changes in this regard. Therefore, as with the previous legislation, a minimum plot area of 14.000 m² or 50.000 m² will be required, depending ultimately on the rustic land qualification on which we want to build.
The next logical question is what, in terms of size, we can build on a plot after the new regulations come into force. It depends, that is the answer. Although, as mentioned above, the new decree maintains the same conditions as the previous regulation with regard to the minimum plot area required to be allowed to build, this is not the case concerning the building size. At this stage, there is no doubt that the most important modification introduced by this new legislative framework with respect to the former one is the downward revision of the building parameters applicable to the construction of single-family dwellings.
Thus, in comparison to the 1.500 m³ allowed previously, the maximum volume of the whole building in any rustic land category may not now exceed 900 m³. Similarly, this new regulation establishes that the maximum developable surface may not exceed 1% of the plot when belonging to the Natura 2000 Network and protected rural land classified as a Rural Area of Landscape Interest (SRP-ARIP), or 1.5% in other rural land categories. Likewise, the maximum percentage of the plot that may be occupied by the building plus other fixed components -such as garages, storage rooms, access areas, terraces or swimming pool- is set at 1.5% for Natura 2000 Network and SRP-ARIP land, and 2% for the other land categories. Finally, it should be borne in mind that the various island Councils and municipalities could apply even more restrictive parameters.
Maybe the best way to understand the implications of the new regulations is a practical example. Imagine that we want to build a house on a 15.000 m² large rustic land in the municipality of Manacor. While in comparison with the previous regulations it would have been possible to build up to 450 m² (given that the maximum percentage allowed was 3%), with the current regulations the building living space would be reduced to 225 m² as the maximum percentage now authorized is 1.5% of the plot. Similarly, we can appreciate the significant change caused by the reduction of the maximum volume permitted if we consider that, previously, it would have been possible to build on a large plot a house of 500 m² with a maximum height of 3 meters (500 m² x 3 meters high). Nowadays, in that same situation, we could only build a house of 300 m² with a height of 3 meters (300 m² x 3 meters high = 900 m³).
Once it is clear where and how much can be built, it is necessary to study other considerations included in the new law regarding how it can be built. The new legislation maintains the preceding provisions in reference to the maximum height of the construction, the total surface of porches, the typology of outdoor woodwork, the characteristics of the roof, the visual aspect of the building materials, and the facade finish, as well as the comments on the existing slopes of the plot. Nevertheless, it stablishes some specific guidelines in order to achieve a greater landscape and environmental integration. For this purpose, both new buildings and comprehensive reform of existing ones carried out on rustic land must include from now on a technical project that reflects all the measures to be done on the entire property. All these above mentioned measures result in an obligation to maintain the plot in good condition, specially its vegetation, to minimize the extend of fires. Elements of ethnographic or cultural value such as terraces or stone walls must be recovered and preserved.
The property enclosures will also be affected by the new law: they can only be made with Majorcan traditional finishes and materials, and the use of native plant elements on them must be prioritized. It will also be necessary to comply with current legislation on light pollution to minimize the impact on the night sky.
Other important considerations are those aimed to saving water. The decree law provides that all building projects must include the collection of rainwater for its reuse. Besides, no more than one swimming pool may be built on a property, whose volume cannot exceed 60 m³ or its area may not exceed 35 m².
Although this article sets out the general lines of the new regulations, it is not possible to cover the peculiarities of each plot. For this reason, the best recommendation we would give you before buying a plot and building a house in Majorca is to get expert advice by qualified professionals. They can individually evaluate the plot and save you from any disappointments or unpleasant surprises.
In Casal Mallorqui we know that building a house is always an important decision and, despite being an exciting process, it can also make you feel overwhelmed if you do not have appropriate support. Our extensive experience in helping our customers to build their dream house in Majorca had taught us something very important: working with good professionals relieves much of the stress that may appear when building a new home. Therefore, and always thinking about your peace of mind and comfort, we have at your disposal architects, legal advisors, lawyers, and real estate agents who will guide and accompany you during the entire building process. We would be happy to assist you in our office in Manacor and provide you all the information you need to make the best possible choice.