The market is saturated with resale houses, but what if you want your particular project; you want to build your dream house totally matching your criteria without compromises, you want something different, you want to decide about your own decoration, layout and landscaping?
Building is the same everywhere in the world - complicated or uncomplicated. People may be reluctant of building, especially in a foreign country. This most likely is related to the fact that they have no experience in this field, that many people cannot really imagine a house on a plan, that they are worried about the costs and legal issues.
Building in Greece is pretty simple, almost risk less and most importantly: affordable. Provided, of course, you have the right advisor at your side. Building your property should be an exciting and joyful experience; it cannot be a passive experience as all decisions will be made by YOU and your impact on how your house will look.
We are associated with Benakis Constructions, a family business based on Apokoronas http://benakisconstructions.com/en/
1. Find a suitable plot.
The residential land is generally divided into two categories in terms of building: the first (easiest) category refers to land within the city or village plan where you can build on a small plot and don't need clearance from the forestry service. In these areas there are no particular structural restrictions in residential construction except that the building has to be positioned either on the border of the plot (but in this case no windows are allowed) or min. 2, 5 meters from the borders.
The second category refers to land located outside the city plan. The basic rule is that you need at least 4000m² of land and the construction must be located at min. 15 meters from the borders. A 4000m² plot has a 186m² building allowance according to the recent law.
There is a way to expand the allowance legally by e.g. building an ecological house with a photovoltaic system providing electricity. Or build in stone. The m² of stone buildings are allowed to be counted from inside the walls thus providing a higher building allowance than a brick building (the size of a building is counted from the exterior walls according to Greek law). This is because a 50cm thick solid stone takes more footprint and space in a building. You can also combine stones and bricks, it has a nice effect and the stone part gives additional m². Although limited.
If the land has a slope, there is a way to build encaved, thus integrating the building in the landscape with less impact on the transformation of the terrain. This also gives additional building m².
As a rule: all plots must have a new topographic plan with recent GPS coordinates, a clearance from the forestry department if located outside the village boundaries, a clearance for the "water line" in case it is a sea side plot (the law requires the building at a min. distance from the sea), a clearance from the archaeological service in certain areas. It must be cleared of debts and have clean titles.
In any case, one should clarify with the assistance of an engineer the ability of the plot to be built and of a lawyer to confirm there are no legal issues.
Once the final plans have been agreed with the engineer, he will submit your full dossier for approval and issuance of the permit. The estimated time of building permit issuance is from 6 to 8 months.
A building permit is required for new construction, or adding onto pre-existing structures, and renovations. The new construction will be inspected during construction and after completion to ensure compliance with national, regional, and local building codes. Failure to obtain a permit can result in significant fines and penalties, and even demolition of unauthorized construction if it cannot be made to meet code.
The building permit is valid for 4 years, extendable for another 4 years.
4. The construction process.
Only once the building permit has been issued the excavation works can start. It takes 10 to 12 months to complete a construction including a swimming pool.
The structural plans must conform to strict Greek anti-seismic construction regulations, obliging the houses to be constructed on concrete frames with brick or stone infill, reinforced with steel and concrete. We use only skilled local tradesmen whose workmanship is known to us, and material suppliers who have proved their reliability.
And now comes the fun part: go shopping, get your house personalized!
You have full impact on the looks of your house. You will choose the tiles, the colour of the shutters and doors, the bathroom accessories, the layout of the kitchen, the size and shape of your pool etc. We will accompany you to the different shops offering the various services. The company provides high quality standard materials which you can choose from. In case your choice is not within our standards, you will only be charged the extra cost. Benakis Constructions cooperates with several tile/bathroom shops in the area, and for the woodwork we will accompany you to the union of carpenters of Chania who offers all types of carpentry to suit your needs. The internal doors, the kitchen and whatever you have chosen in wood will be tailor made by our carpenter.
You will advise us about the electrics and plumbing installations of your house, letting us know where you want the plugs and switches, where we need to install pipes for the washing machine, dishwasher, the position of the air conditioning units as well as the radiators etc.
The construction density on the plots does not include basements, balconies and terraces. So make sure your plans include plenty of exterior (covered and uncovered) spaces as you will live more outside than inside. In all cases, if the plot is outside the village boundaries, it is essential that you have the clearance from the Forestry Authority confirming that the plot is not designated as forestry.
Simply because the land has no trees on it does not mean it is not affected by this (certain rocks formations p.e. may also be considered "forestry").
To complicate matters further, the rules are different and can vary from one zone to another. Planning laws are very complicated and all sellers will claim that you can build on their land.
2. Planning and approval/ building permit.
Once you have found your plot, a local engineer has to be contacted to draw up plans and to submit the building application. Alternatively, one could make a draft by a non-Greek architect that is to be "translated" into Greek laws (earthquake proof, height of the ceilings, concrete columns etc). In any case, you need a local architect to submit the planning application.
As also in your own country, you will discuss the design of your house and your individual ideas in close collaboration with the architect. You will give him your demands, required size and layout and based on your suggestions - and complying with Greek laws - he will design your house. The chosen architect will be your local partner and take over the coordination of all stakeholders (planners, government agencies, contractors, static, fire safety, energy efficiency, hydraulic and electrical design, etc.) on your behalf. His task is obviously very extensive and the collaboration will be lengthy. Keep in mind that you will not be regularly on site during construction, and that someone must therefore be your "eyes on the ground". The entire building process will be followed and together with the constructor Benakis Constructions you will be kept updated on the progress of the building with regular photos and emails.
3. The construction costs.
Once you have approved the plans, we will take the measurements and technical details from your engineer in order to provide you an exact cost of the building. The construction costs will be fully detailed with a complete list of works accompanied by a timetable of works and payments.
What are the key factors concerning the cost: is it a stone or brick built house? Is there a big slope on the plot requesting retaining walls? Is the access to the house easy or does it need concrete? Are electricity and water nearby? Are you happy with the standards offered by the constructor? How much landscaping does the plot need? All these matter in the costs of the building, but at the moment the approximate costs amount between €2.200 and €2.500 per m².
This price includes the building permit, 24% VAT, IKA (social security for the workers).
So what's the IKA all about? The tax office in Greece calculates how many man-hours it took to build your house and you pay for the number of days. Even if you were to physically build the house yourself, you would still have to pay. Only after you have paid the total IKA amount, you can contact the electricity board to arrange to connect your house with a mains supply. This normally takes a couple of months. Prior to that you will only receive minimal construction power.
More information on building specifications