STAY AHEAD: Every week you can read one resource from leaders and experts in niche
Prefabricated off-grid houses appeal to the imagination. I love them! I always did. They belong to my favorite types of property. They are trendy these days, more than ever. One of the most frequently asked questions in the world of prefabricated houses is whether you can put one on rural land.
As they are mobile and dismountable, it is possible to fall into the error of thinking that they have fewer urban planning limitations and, therefore, that they are a good opportunity.
But is this possible? Today, we explain the main concepts that you have to take in mind.
Why rural land?
The reason why many people consider building a prefabricated house on rural land – apart from beautiful surrounding nature – is that its price is significantly lower than that of urban or developable land.
But if the price is lower, it is for a reason. To understand this, we must first explain the differences between urban, developable and rustic land.
There are two types of rustic land:
In short, rural land is intended for agricultural use, i.e. for agriculture, cattle or forestry, among others, and therefore, in principle, residential use is not contemplated.
The planning restrictions imposed on this land are in respect of the use of the dwelling to be built, regardless of whether it is prefabricated or not, since for legal purposes it is the same thing.
Can you do it or not?
The answer is that it depends.
This is where the complexities of the system and the specific legislation of the municipalities come into play, which, although it does not vary much from one municipality to another, there are legal spaces for action.
The first thing you should do if you are considering building a prefabricated house on rural land is to consult municipal legislation. If it does not exist, you will have to look at provincial, regional, and state legislation. It is advisable to consult an architect in the area, as he/she will be aware of the legislation and may be familiar with similar situations.
As mentioned above, the requirements for building on rural land vary according to each area.
Some autonomous communities contemplate the construction of houses on rural land if it is essential to maintain the activity carried out there. In this case, it would be possible to build a house, either prefabricated or traditional.
A law from 2016 passed in Galicia allows buildings on rural land, as long as they are intended for agricultural, cattle or tourist uses, such as campsites and rural hotels, among other purposes.
For example, people whose professional activity depends on the exploitation of the farm will be able to live there and, therefore, build a house in which to stay.
The maximum built area, the style, the distance to other properties or the height the house can reach, again, depends on the legislation of the relevant administration.
If we look at Castilla-La Mancha, it is possible to build a detached house as long as the plot is at least one hectare in size and the floor plan of the house does not exceed 200 m2.
What about prefabricated mobile homes?
Prefabricated mobile homes have gained prominence in recent years and their designs and features have improved significantly. The possibility of living in different places and traveling with ‘the house on your back’ is a great attraction for many people.
Some of these houses have their own solar panels and water tanks, i.e. they are totally self-sufficient. It would be logical to think that, as they do not require foundations or any kind of anchoring to the land, they could be established as dwellings on rural land, but the reality is quite different.
Mobile prefabricated houses are considered a “building”, as they are presumed to be static in space and intended to be permanent.
In other words, if you want to place a mobile home on rural land, you will have to consult with the administration, but, as a general rule, you cannot.