All properties fall into one of two categories of planning zone:
1. Rustic (rural) plots (suelo rustico)
The rural land law governs the building rules of rural sites. (LEY 10/2004, de 9 de diciembre, de la Generalitat, del Suelo No Urbanizable.)
Some rural land is protected. All plots fall under one of the two following criteria:
Suelo no urbanizable protegido. This is special, protected land which cannot be developed for residential homes.
Suelo no urbanizable común. This category has no special protection and can be developed for residential houses for private use.
The development rights and restrictions of a rural plot in a común:
Plot size: minimum 10,000m2
Maximum building size: 2% of the plot size
For example: with a 12,000m2 plot you can build a villa with 240m2 on the ground floor and 240m2 on the first floor.
Special Restrictions: All rustic plots have aesthetic restrictions with each planning zone having different regulations. Normally you have to build a typical regional-style building. For example you would not be given permission to build an Ibicenco (Ibiza-style) house in Valencia.
2. Urban plots (suelo urbano)
These are urbanised, serviced plots with access roads, water, electricity. Each planning zone has its own rules although normally the plot size limitation is between 800m2 and 1,500m2, with the "brut habitable" space being about 20% of the plot.
The Certificado Urbanistico
In each town hall you can ask for a "certificado urbanistico" of the plot you want to buy. This is a document signed by the agency of urban planning which confirms the type of plot, the occupation purpose, building space and type of building. When purchasing a property, this is the document that informs you of all the development possibilities of the property.
Note: Do not buy a plot without this certification.