You might love the location, you may love the idea of becoming a part of the community in that area, you maybe don’t love the state of the electrics in a property. Perhaps the thought of having popcorn walls (Gotelé) forever fills you with dread… that bathroom just has to go… omfg look at the kitchen… you get the idea. Your perfect apartment or house might not look perfect when you walk into it but you know one thing at least… it has “potential“, lots of it, in spades and you want to make it yours. You know you can make your mark on it and enjoy doing a project. Your big question is though, how much is it going to cost me to modernise the apartment I want to buy?
Today we look at typical costs for modernising based on some baseline criteria, mid range quality fixtures and fittings, decent quality tiles and flooring and typical costs for the workers.
This is the free bit. Most builders (reformistas) will put together a quote for free based on either an architect’s plan, see below, or you describing what you want doing to them on a visit. Builders will speculate to accumulate hoping their quote will get them the job. So this is the only thing that won’t cost you anything apart from the time it takes to describe what you want doing. Of course we can supply a translator and project manager to liaise between yourself and the builder.
An architect can develop your ideas and put them down into a project for the builder to follow and for getting your licence to do the works. An architect is often necessary when you are thinking of moving internal walls and dividing up the property in different ways and also for extensions onto houses. They are not so necessary for when you are just going to change the tiles in a bathroom. A project via an architect can cost anything from a thousand euros for smaller projects up to multiple thousands for larger work projects (We have just received a 64 page project from an architect which cost a pretty penny). The architect responsible will then take on the legal responsibility for the work you do, so will need to be involved in the project management and also for getting the licences, see below.
Generally there are two types of licence, “obra menor” and “obra mayor”. Most small projects in apartments can be done with an obra menor licence, and sometimes without the licence if the project is under 10,000 Euros and doesn’t involve demolition. The Obra Menor licence is a very quick thing you can get from the local council in a few days and may cost you as little as a 100 euros as the cost is 3-5% of the value of the work according to the town you are in.
Larger projects involving demolition, extension or redistribution are covered by an “obra mayor” permit and cost a percentage of the value of the project too. These usually require an architect’s plan so you will have to pay for that too. Getting the licence approved is a longer process than the Obra Menor as the town architect has to look at the plan and authorise the work but expect to pay again between 2-5% of the value of the works.
In a lot of the older apartments in Valencia you can find the original electrical installation which has never been updated. Often you can find obsolete plugs, especially on electric radiators, and many times with downright dangerous electrics from the 60s or earlier. With today’s electrical requirements you can easily overload the circuits and everything goes off or you will struggle to manage to plug things in.
In a typical 70m2 apartment you can get the electrics overhauled with new wiring for anything between 1500-3000 euros depending on the number of plugs, outlets or air conditioning units (See below) you require. Traditionally older Spanish apartments lack plug points so expect to have to add more and if you are going to do a full new installation, you might only find two plugs in a kitchen, one for the fridge and another for all your gadgets.
Smoothing The Walls
Gotelé is a bane of Spanish life, it’s that popcorn effect on the walls that you often see because it hid blemishes (Read more here) and was easier for workers to do than get completely flat walls. Getting rid of the Gotelé requires a lot of work and increases the cost of repaint by about four times. Expect to pay around 10-12 Euros per square metre for smoothing your walls, more if the Gotelé is thick, and 3-4 Euros per m2 for painting so about 15 Euros per square metre on average. Then remember a 70m2 flat may have 200m2 of Gotelé walls. Always remember though, in the end it is worth it because Gotelé is a pain in the backside to keep clean, annoying to paint and will always give your house the look of something from the 1960s or 70s.
You can make a stunning kitchen here for around 10,000 Euros. You can make a fantastic kitchen for around 7,000 Euros and really nice kitchens will cost around 5,000 Euros. You can even get one for 2,000 Euros fully installed with a wooden work surface but of course all of this depends on size and materials.
Wooden worktops are the cheapest, granite a bit more expensive and composite materials such as Silestone cost more. Tiles can be gotten for anything from 6 Euros per square metre upwards and you could even splash out at tiles at around the 100 Euros per square metre range but remember one thing, the cost to install them is the same so the only variable is the initial cost, the workmanship is the same.
Similar to the kitchens bathrooms can be basic or luxury with jacuzzi effect baths, separate showers, free standing baths, rainforest showers, free standing toilets and yes… even bidets. A standard bathroom of around 6-7m2 might cost around 4-6000 Euros with a walk in shower and base and new tiling, sink, toilet and materials.
More elaborate and larger bathrooms may be around 8-10000 Euros if space allows a bath and also a separate shower unit.
One thing you have to make sure in any quote you get is that the glass screens are included (The builder may be expecting you to use a shower curtain still, so 1990’s)
Knocking Out a Wall
Get your sledgehammer, strip down to the waist and start knocking out a wall. Nothing could be cheaper or more satisfying… unless you are doing it during the summer with 40 degrees of heat inside the apartment of course. However there are a few things to bear in mind with this job that make it slightly more complicated.
Firstly, make sure first the wall isn’t a supporting wall. Most interior walls aren’t but check just in case. Secondly, it creates a lot of dust and debris so make sure you have your licence in place and potentially you may have to hire a skip to put the rubble into. Finally, sometimes the interior wall (Tabique) is actually built onto an existing flooring, in those cases great, you will need to clean up the area where the wall previously was but you won’t need a new floor. Other times you will now have no wall but you will have a newly created trench in your floor which requires new flooring.
If you can knock out the wall easily the cost can be as little as 300 Euros with skip hire included. Expect to pay around 1000 Euros for more complicated jobs. Also remember you have the choice of cutting out a part of the wall to leave serving hatches, arches or kitchen bars and the prices in those cases will be higher as they require finishing off.
Valencia has a particular problem in old apartments and houses, the pipes are generally rubbish because of the amount of limescale in the water. Lots of houses and apartments install decalcifiers on the main water entrance now in order to protect the pipework. It is always advisable therefore in older apartments to change the pipework not just the bathroom. In an apartment of 70m2 this may cost around 2-3000 Euros depending on where the pipes need to go.
New pipework will save you in the long run because if you put tiling or a new kitchen over the pipes and keep the old pipes eventually they will burst and you will have to pay again for the tiling. Change the pipework every time.
Windows can cost anything from 100 Euros plus installation up to much higher prices. Costs depend on materials with wood and aluminium being the cheapest and PVC costing more and the thickness of the glass, the double glazing etc… determining price. Installation can be anything from 100 Euros per window. Other factors such as mosquito nets, built in blinds and whether the building is protected and requires certain standards in new windows can affect the prices too. For a 70m2 flat expect a price of 2-3000 for purchase and installation of the windows.
We have just done ours having bought all new white interior doors from Bauhaus with installation included. Nine single doors plus a double door for the living room without glass in them cost around 2800 Euros. The individual door price was 129 Euros with handles. Add in 15 Euros for each door you require to have a lock. This price includes the doorframes. You can get doors slightly cheaper but this is a reasonable cost.
Getting a cheap thin parquet floor is sometimes attractive in terms of price and comfort but the 3 Euros per square metre you save in price compared to the cheapest decent quality tiles is not really worth it as installation is often a similar cost.
You can put in a parquet floor in a 70m2 apartment from 1400 Euros. It can also cost you up to 7000 Euros for a proper wooden floor. Tiled floors can start around the same price with cheaper tiles but they will last a lot longer and not be affected by heat, cold or liquids to the same extent. The biggest variable in cost is if you need to lift the previous floor which has a large demolition cost. If the current floors are solid then you can often tile or put wooden floors directly on top to save on costs. Remember if doing this you will need to shave doors so they don’t scrape on the new floor.
Do you want vented air conditioning in a false ceiling or is a single unit in your living room or bedroom enough. Could you do without it because the building standards are so high… hahaha (Note to self: “Don’t be stupid Graham”) Ceiling fans instead? Whatever you want remember that each different type of air conditioning has different costs. A single unit may cost around 500 Euros for purchase and fitting. More efficient units may cost around 1000 Euros each. A system inside a false ceiling will cost from 3000 Euros upwards and you also have to include the costs of the false ceilings if they are not already there.
Gas, electric, oil based, underfloor or through the air conditioning units there are plenty of ways to heat a house in Valencia. The cheapest way is from electrical heaters but it’s not the most efficient and can be expensive to run. Most people in apartments these days go for an all electric built in system or gas central heating now that most apartment buildings are served by town gas rather than bottled gas which can still be common in the villages.
Gas central heating with five radiators and a combi boiler might be 3000 Euros, similarly electric radiators throughout the house using Calor Azul (Cheap nighttime rates for the electric) may cost around the same depending on the size of the radiators. However, make sure you up the potential of your electrical system when rewiring if you are going to use electrical central heating.
Underfloor heating is more expensive and requires new floors to be installed of course. It’s also usually less efficient. In cities not many people use oil based central heating these days as individuals but some communities use this system as a central heating system for the building and they decide which dates to turn it on and off without your input (Thankfully this is rare these days).
Furnishing The Place
When are you going to make the trip to IKEA? Of course there are other options but you will make that trip to IKEA won’t you? There are hundreds of furniture shops around Valencia, furniture makers, second hand shops, antique shops, flea markets, charity shops and more. Don’t be limited by IKEA’s attraction but let’s face it, 3-4000 will furnish an apartment well.
Other Potential Costs
You might want to put in a false ceiling, you might want to take out a horrible false ceiling to reveal those beams, you might want to put in a chimney if possible, extensions on houses, glass in a terrace, change patio doors, an island in your kitchen… any number of other jobs. The answer to the question how much does a modernisation cost is always “It depends!”
Your paint job may cost a bit more, you may even want to put in Estucco walls, a job requiring lots of workman hours, there are any number of other jobs you might want to do and there are aesthetic considerations too. But in the end the “How long is a piece of string? question remains.
How We Can Help You
We have written about our service to help with your modernisation here. We can provide you with competitive tenders from reliable builders, project managers, architects and even just odd job people. We make sure you don’t get ripped off and our project managers will take you by the hand and take you from the start to finish of the project and beyond to your next project too.
And if you liked this article then click through on the images below for similar and more information. (Including an update in the second post about a recent case of transferring money from the States)