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To build the house of  your dreams in Spain is a great thing, but also a very complex task. In general it is necessary to have specialized technical advisers, usually a lawyer, an architect,  and an experienced building company.

Building legally


First, you have to decide precisely what you want to build: a home, a warehouse, an extension for a garage, a storage room, a fencing, or simply repair a cover or change a window.


Second, you have to be clear if what you are going to build is a major work or a minor work, because the type of license and procedure will be different in both cases.


Building Permit for Major Works


In general, any construction that requires a structure is a major work. You need a project backed by the signature of a qualified technician to be executed, for reasons of safety and responsibility. The habitable works (eg housing) technical designer usually has to be an architect; In public civil works (eg sewerage or underground lines), an engineer is competent to sign the project.

Examples of major work are the construction of a new house, an extension of an existing house, a garage or a porch attached to a house, a swimming pool, a covered sports facility, retaining walls of more than 1, 50 m. of height.


Building Permit for Minor Works


However, a minor work is usually a work that does not require a structure to be supported. It can be performed with less human and material resources, and less responsibility and documentary support. For some minor works, it is not necessary to have a project, but it is necessary to present drawing sketches and characteristics that define the work to be done, and especially its situation. The intervention of a technical professional, architect or engineer, although not compulsory in all cases, it is always advisable.

Examples of smaller work that REQUIRE project are all those that are habitable, occupiable, or constitutive of support for the people, such as Habilitation of basements and semi-basements ventilated by façade, and constructions, such as Porches, Pergolas, Laundry, Garage, Storage room, Barbecues, Tennis courts and other open sports facilities, elevated terraces, Reform of partitioning of dwellings, Qualifications of premises.


Examples of minor work that DO NOT REQUIRE a project: all non-habitable or occupiable, such as Water purification booths, cisterns, buried deposits, shading and awnings, fences, retaining walls of less than 1,50 m. height, big access doors to the plot, Gardens, small greenhouses. Or facilities such as Antennas, Air conditioning, solar energy, gas tanks, and terraces not elevated.

Mere Communication Permit

If the aim is to build a small technical and low urban impact, and during its implementation there is no danger, it can comply with the regulations in a very simple way: you only need to communicate it to the council before starting the works, through the procedure Established for works of «mere communication».

Examples of mere communication: Plating in the interior of buildings, Change of Doors or Windows (that does not modify the hollow of the façade), Painting, Floors, Irrigation nets, Change tiles up to 50% of units on deck, Changing gutters, Sanitary change, Cleaning of plots, indoor gardens.

Painting the facade is a work of mere communication, but that does not mean that any colour can be used. The City Council may have regulated in the Ordinance of Police of Uses, Parcel and Building, the colours allowed in each of the urban areas.

Building site

You must check that the municipal regulations allow you to do what you want to built in the plot you own or expect to buy. To do this, you must, before buying that plot, consult the town council technicians, through specialized professionals, find out the urban classification of the land and the area where your plot is located, to find out what the applicable planning rules.

From a planning point of view, there are three types of Land: undeveloped land, developable land, and Urban Land: the only kind where you can build, because this land that has all services (water, sanitation, electricity and paved road access and sidewalks) and is connected to the rest of the city integrated into the urban grid.


Materials, Equipments  and Personal to execute the building project

The execution of the works entails hazards due to the use of toxic products, tools, means of transportation, machinery, the use of which can cause harm to people and property.

The major works also require a safety and health project, which indicates the measures to be taken to avoid eventual damages, and that the builder must comply during the course of execution of the work.

There is always a technical responsibility for safety and health at work. Therefore, in major works, it is always necessary to have a technical designer, usually an architect or engineer in charge of the work, also a director of execution of the work, usually technical architect, and a person responsible for safety and health in The same, responsibility that can fall in any of the above. In addition, there must always be a builder responsible for the work.

In smaller works, having a smaller entity, the security measures have to be carried out by the responsible builder, who must have the means to do so. In these cases, it is advisable to hire a surveyor to control all these aspects.

In the works of simple communication, it is the owner who must have all the necessary means and take all possible precautions to prevent any accident, with measures to be taken into account either by the responsible builder or by the owner, Or promoter who does the work.

Having technicians you trust is highly recommended. The technicians also help to budget the work, avoiding as much as possible unforeseen and miscalculations that may be economic costs, and in the case of disputes with the builder, can help us to solve them.

Building Permit administrative procedure

It begins with the presentation of the license application in writing, filling in all the sections, and signed by the technical designers, directors and the manufacturer, stamped by their respective professional associations, which must be accompanied by:


  1. Technical project signed by Architect, or Engineer.

  2. Report describing the compliance of the Municipal Ordinance of the tree, if any.

  3. Safety and health study, signed by an optional technician.

  4. Payment of construction tax (ICIO).

  5. Payment of municipal taxes.

  6. For works on non-buildable land: Landscape Integration Study.

  7. Request and slopes, where there has been no prior approval of the subdivision or land subdivision.

  8. Presentation of guarantee to ensure good order and completion of public infrastructure (asphalted, sidewalks, etc.).

  9. appointment of technical directors of the building and responsible builder.


Once the City Council has received the documentation, the competent municipal technician (Municipal Architect) must review the project and the attached documentation. 


In order for the Architect to issue a favorable report, it is necessary that the plot be well identified, that the urban planning regulations allow the construction that is intended, that the alignments and gradients be obtained and that the land provided for by the PGOU be ceded, and, consequently, that the plot is a building site: for that, must be completely urbanized, have road and pedestrian access, supplies of drinking water, electricity, drainage of dirty water, or at least it will be executed these services will be implemented during the course of building works; If they are pending to execute, the City Council will ask for guarantee of its execution.

Also, the project must respect the appropriate urban planning parameters on plot occupation, Buildability, the distance of the building to the street and neighbouring plots, Building Heights, Standards of habitability and design, and any other applicable specific regulations. The basic and execution project must be technically correct, signed by the competent technical experts, endorsed by the Professional Association of Architects, with all the mandatory documentation according to the applicable regulations.


If the report of the municipal architect is favorable, the council of planning and building permits signs the resolution that grants the BUILDING PERMIT OF MAJOR WORKS.

From that moment the projected construction can be started.

If the report is unfavorable, the architect says what points of the rules are violated and how they can be overcome. This report of deficiencies or repairs is notified to the interested party to solve it as quickly as possible.

In order to obtain the BUILDING PERMIT FOR MINOR WORKS, it is not necessary the architectural project; it is enough for the procedure to begin the presentation of the license application in writing, accompanying the building location on a plan (indicating area) and cadastral reference number, type of works to execute(to determine if they need technical project or only detailed sketch indicating areas, heights, distances to borders and public way), payment of the construction tax (ICIO) and of the municipal taxes, Designation of technicians and responsible builder, and, in some cases, bank guarantee (to guarantee the good condition of the public road).

In both cases, it is advisable to submit all the necessary documentation, so that the City Council can easily verify that the works project complies with the applicable regulations.

Expiration of the Building Permit


All licenses are granted for a fixed period to start and finish the works. If the term established in the license expires and the works have not been completed, the City can and must declare its expiration, that is, that the license granted is no longer valid and produce effects. However, an extension of the license may be requested, which will generally be granted by the City Council for a term no longer than initially granted.


Execution of the Building Works


In order to begin construction (including earthmoving and logging operations), both in the case of major and minor works, you have to wait until you have the LICENSE of works, which guarantees that the work project Is in accordance with the urban norms, and recognizes the right to execute it.


The City Council has the obligation to resolve the license application in a MAXIMUM TWO MONTH PERIOD FOR THE MAJOR WORKS AND ONE MONTH FOR THE MINOR WORKS since the request is filed. In the case of listed buildings, the term is three months.


But for this deadline to bind the City, you must have delivered all the necessary documentation detailed above. If it does not you will be required to provide what is missing with interruption of the period, thus prolonging the process.


You must also comply with the general and specific conditions that are required by the regulations and the license, as compliance with these conditions is a requirement for the validity and effectiveness of the license.


If you do not agree, you can appeal against the decree-resolution that imposes these conditions, but you must wait until this is resolved, before building, if you are not willing to meet such conditions.


Only in the case of the works of JUST COMMUNICATION can start immediately, once you have communicated to the City Council what you are going to undertake, providing the form and paying the applicable taxes and fees.


Changes in the Building Project during Execution of the Works


If the change or modification, in relation to the granted building permit, is important, you must redo the procedure by submitting, in the case of major work, a modified project, clearing the updated taxes and taxes, for the municipal technical services to examine The revised draft.

In the case of minor work, you can choose to reapply for planning permission or submit the modified plans and settle the new rates.

Charges for the license of the modified work must be paid, but the construction tax (ICIO) initially paid can be taken as payment on account of the corresponding modified work.


Inspection Visits of the Municipal Building and  Planning Control Services

If you have already obtained the Building Permit, and what you build coincides with the project as filed, the inspector will verify that the construction is covered by the license and here ends its performance. It is required to put in a place visible from the street, the poster delivered by the Town Hall that contains the basic data of the building works.

The obligation of the City when granting the license is to verify that it complies with planning regulations, but not value private or neighbourly issues (for example, if the neighbour is building a wall encroaching on your property, or if you have permission Of the Community of Owners). Hence the warning that is read in all the licenses: «without prejudice of third and safe of the property right …». For this reason, when there is a dispute between neighbouring owners or neighbours of the same building, the City Council should not and can not legally intervene in that litigation. The individual or the Community of Owners affected has to use other ways: justice of the peace, civil court, etc.


Unlicensed Building

Once the City Council is aware of the execution of a building WITHOUT PERMIT, it must order the immediate stoppage of the works, and open an administrative  file to legalise the works. Compliance with the order to paralyse works is inescapable: if the builder, owner or promoter or any intervening technician ignores the stoppage order and continues with the work, the City must notify the facts to the Public Prosecutor’s Office to start the alleged commission of an offence of disobedience to the authority.

Two possible situations:

– If what you have built can meet the planning regulations, you can legalise the construction if you ask for the corresponding license. In this case, after completing the necessary steps, the City will open disciplinary proceedings and impose the legally applicable fine, depending on the seriousness and value of the work performed.

– If it fails to comply with the town planning regulations, and cannot be legalised, the legalisation file will end with a demolition order, the City Council will legally force you, sooner or later, to demolish the inlicensed works  at your cost, and in addition, you will have to assume economic sanctions.

In both cases, the City must initiate a file of planning infringement, in which your rights of defense must be guaranteed.

Before demolishing your unlicensed building, the Municipal Services will take great care to avoid making mistakes. But in the end, if the work (or part of it) fails to comply with the rules, you will have to demolish it, or the City Council will do it at your expense. In most cases, appeal to the Courts only delays but does not prevent the demolition agreed by the City Council in its administrative resolution.


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