Why Square Metres Matter More Than Bedrooms

When people are looking for a property in Valencia or Spain they send us their requirements and this will always include the number of bedrooms "I want at least two bedrooms", "I must have three bedrooms and two bathrooms" etc... Nobody ever seems to say "I need at least 100m2" for example without mentioning the number of bedrooms. In Spanish property though the number of metres squared (From hereon in referred to as m2) is usually more important. Today we are looking at why.

Also today we are going back to look at the posts you may have missed recently but that are essential reading, or even listening, before making your move to Valencia. And we are doing this because last week we were mostly off. Valencia had the Fallas fiestas and we took some time away as it's impossible to work during Fallas.

Size Matters

If you look at all of the listings on our webpage and any other portal you will see some impressive feats of ingenuity in the use of space. You might see apartments of 70m2 that have somehow managed to fit 4 bedrooms into them (I even once saw a five bedroom place in 72m2) and equally you may see 100m2 plus with one bedroom. I can tell you now that the 100m2 plus place has been recently modernised and the open plan look has been embraced whereas the 70m2, 4 bedroomed place is as they say in Spain, "De Orígen" meaning probably from the 1950s or 1960s when Spanish families had a lot of kids and therefore, a lot of rooms.

Evidently though there is a difference between a 6m2 bedroom and a 25m2 bedroom. 6m2 is the smallest bedroom size allowed according to the rules for apartment buildings yet we often see rooms described as bedrooms that are essentially box or storage rooms of less than 6m2 often without windows too.

The important thing to remember though is that the 70m2, 4 bedroom, one bathroom apartment can probably very easily become a 2 bedroom 2 bathroom apartment with a simple modernisation and that is due to the nature of Spanish building.

The Ephemeral Nature of Walls

Coming from another country into Spain people are often surprised to be able to hear the TV, family arguments and crying babies of people in neighbouring apartments as if they were sharing the room. This is because dividing walls are thin in Spain, very thin. However, oftentimes the dividing walls are still thicker between you and a neighbour than they are between your living room and kitchen or between two bedrooms. Equally, as you may be able to imagine with such thin walls, they do not bear any weight as they are used to fill in gaps and divide apartments up. The actual structural integrity of the building relies on pillars and supporting beams. These are the things that keep a building standing and taking down an interior wall in 99% of cases will have no effect whatsoever in the solidity of the building*.

It's therefore often a good idea to "lose a bedroom" in an old apartment by incorporating it into another or sacrificing it totally to get another bathroom, maybe an en-suite to the main bedroom in older buildings. Of course there is one other consideration here and that is where you can find the downpipes for connection of waste and water.

You can also open up the kitchen to the living room or even a bedroom to make the living room bigger with the accompanying benefit of adding more light via the extra window or by light being able to flow more easily from the large street windows into the extra space rather than coming only from the central lightwell of the building perhaps. The added benefit here is that you may also get the possibility of a through breeze by having windows front and back giving you a cooler apartment in the summer.

(*Always get a builder or architect to check this statement as your building might well be one of those 1% where the walls do matter. Think of 19th century buildings where the superstructure is not reinforced concrete but maybe wood and clay for example and there may have been some settling of the weight onto the walls and removing them could be slightly catastrophic!)

Houses Are Different

Whereas you may often see apartments with a whole load of bedrooms crammed into a small space, houses are often 120-150m2 with only three bedrooms as there is a lot of space taken up by hallways and built in wardrobes for example. Many times kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms are larger as the original build allowed for more space without the restrictions imposed in an apartment buiilding.

Nevertheless, this doesn't necessarily mean there is always an optimal use of that space. The number of bedrooms will often be determined by the number of children and grandparents that were around when the family was building their house. You are just as likely to get pokey cubby hole bedrooms in a house as you sometimes see in an apartment with six bedrooms and one bathroom in older houses with maybe an outside toilet and shower near the pool too is relatively common in older houses. The modernisation will make this into a comfortable three bedroom, two bathroom place much more easily than with a flat but it will still require that modernisation.

Mortgage Considerations

If you are buying a 120m2 apatment that is a wreck the valuation for the mortgage will be a lot higher than when you buy a modernised 70m2 apartment which may well be the same price. Banks and valuers' first consideration is size and they use an average for the area in their valuations based on previous sale values as their prime criteria. Therefore if you are looking for a mortgage on a property you are much more likely to get a good mortgage offer on a larger apartment without a modernisation done than on smaller bijou apartments which may look great in pictures but don't value well as the prime consideration of the valuation is size.

Equally, if there is a Mezzanine floor, meaning the apartment may well be advertised as 70m2 plus 35m2 of Mezzanine, then banks will not consider that as part of the construction. The 70m2 will be the only consideration as regards the value of the property not the extra 35m2 made posssible by high ceilings. Essentially the apartment is still just 70m2 whatever the agent tells you. The m2 counts more than the fact that there may be two extra bedrooms up the rickety stairs for mortgage purposes. For your particular family circumstances the Mezzanine might be ultra important but if you are looking for a mortgage to finance your purchase then you might well be disappointed.

It's equally true that it doesn't matter on the valuation if a place is 100m2 with just one bedroom. The lack of a second or third bedroom is unlikely to adversely affect the valuation as the most important consideration is the size, the m2 actually available.

Windows and "Blind Rooms"

In apartment blocks, especially older ones, some rooms described as "bedrooms" have no ventilation as they don't have a window. Back in the day construction standards were different and as we have previously mentioned if a family had many kids they might split a larger room into two using an ultra thin wall to give each child a room but one of them inevitably doesn't have a window as there are no external facing walls. You often find glass bricks high in the wall in these rooms to at least let a little light in there from the other room but no ventilation at all. Under the building codes these days this is not allowed but it is totally normal to find this type of room in many older Spanish apartment blocks.

How do you solve the problem? Well, as previously stated, knocking a wall down, opening it to the hall to create a cubby hole dining area or reading room is popular as is making a larger bedroom as above.

Nevertheless, if you join two rooms you may actually get two windows in the room meaning it just looks a bit weird as they might both be looking into the interior lightwell and both still be very small and not allowing much light. We have seen cases where windows have been made bigger to allow more light into these interior rooms but before doing that you may want to consult with the community.

Modernising These Apartments

We have previously written about how we can help people with their modernisations. You can see the post here. Also we have talked about the cost of modernisations and it compares very favourably with other countries. You shouldn't be afraid of buying a place with a good size and decent features, good bones as we call it here, and then getting a modernisation done. It's usually the best option for getting exactly what you want in a location that you want in an apartment. Just take it into consideration when looking at your budget.

If you want to know more then contact us and tell us about what you are looking for. You could also fill in the form on the article below, just click on the image to be taken to the page.

Property of the Week

Probably the most recognisable residential building in the city, held in great affection by the locals, friends and clients of VP who live in this magnificent neighbourhood. Apartments for sale here are scarce and usually top secret so just a few pictures of it’s impressive architecture and some interesting facts about its origins.

Originally intended to be social housing for the needy, the Finca Roja was built between 1929 and 1934 and the use of bricks, bow windows and rounded shapes owes its style to Dutch architecture known as Amsterdam School. Turquoise green ceramics and tiles contrast with the Rationalist red brick facade and it was one of the first buildings to incorporate Persian Blinds, the eight towers on its four corners designed to be water deposits were never put to use.

Six floors, and 14 separate patio entrances service an impressive total of 378 apartments, the common courtyard was initially conceived to provide basic shops, bakery, kiosks and services in this once isolated location has now made way for a quiet oasis for its inhabitants.

Now you can tell your friends all about it and you’ll look really clever, the direct translation also means The Red Farm, which sounds a bit pathetic so I consulted with a New Yorker and we’ve decided to call it Valencia’s Dakota. Shout out to Superflans, mad props yo.

More than 200M2 of apartment with 7 (Seven in final score videprinter parlance) Bedrooms, 2 Bathrooms, Living room and kitchen with high ceilings, hydraulic press ceramic floors, original mobile pine windows and a chance to become a resident in one of the great buildings in Valencia.

Listen to Our Latest Podcast

All about saving money on your Spanish Property podcast our latest podcast was very well received. You can listen to it below or on our podcast page with all of its friends.

Important Recent Posts You May Have Missed

For those of you looking to get the Spanish Golden Visa the direction of travel is to more restrictions on its availability so read the above article about what's happening and maybe speed up the process for you.

Spain's new Digital Nomad Visa is now up and running and every week we are now referring people to lawyers and gestors to start the process of application, or at least getting the paperwork together for application. Make sure that you inform yourself about the requirements by reading the article above.

The power of attorney came in very useful last week again as a cancelled flight meant somebody couldn't get over for their signing. Read in this article why the POA is so important.

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