Spain Explained

Obtaining a building permit

Last updated on October 29th, 2019 at 09:23 am.

Unfortunately there are less-than-scrupulous builders who will claim they have obtained a building permit on your behalf, when, in fact, they have not. Having the correct building licences is, ultimately, your responsibility. In this article we explain how to make sure your reformed or extended property is legal.

Many people who buy a property in Spain want to make changes to it. Perhaps they would like an extension, a swimming pool or maybe just to improve the internal layout of their property. It can come as a surprise to discover that each of these home improvements requires a building permit.

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The building permit comes in two forms. The ‘obra menor’ applies to minor works that you do such as refitting your kitchen or tiling your patio. The ‘obra mayor’ refers to major works such as building a swimming pool or extending your property.

For a major work you need an architect’s drawings and you will need to make your building permit application to your local town hall. The cost of the building permit will vary depending on the size of the works you are carrying out. You are also required to obtain permission for any building work from your Community of Owners. They will have to vote on this at an AGM.


It is unfortunate that people are often not informed correctly by the builders that they need a building permit and this can lead to consequences. If you do not have the correct building permit in place then you can be fined. It will not be the builder who receives this but you, as the owner. The town hall has inspectors who are responsible for checking up on renovations and home improvements in the area. If they detect a building site without a licence they will take disciplinary action.

The sanctions include substantial fines and you must pay these as well as legalising the works that have been carried out. There is no guarantee that you will be given a retrospective building permit. If, for example, the new works are outside urban planning regulations you could even be faced with a demolition order.

What you should do

If you should discover that you do not have the correct licences then it is important that you take immediate action to obtain them. A solicitor can do this on your behalf. They will also need to declare the works on your Title Deed. This enables the improvements you have made to be recognised when you come to sell your property.

We recommend that all significant changes to your property are recorded on your Title Deed including the building of a swimming pool. The building permit will act as proof of the changes you’ve made or you can use the architect’s drawing if the works have antiquity enough (For example in Valencian Region, if the were completed more than 15 years ago or 4 years ago for works done before the 20th August 2010.

It is particularly urgent that you check that you meet building permit requirements if you are intending to sell your property. A solicitor working on behalf of the purchaser will check to make sure that all the paperwork is in order. If renovations have taken place without it being licensed then it will be down to you to rectify this situation. A frustrating hold up in a sale that could mean you lose your buyer altogether.

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If you are concerned that your property may have unlicensed home improvements then we suggest you review your building work against the questions below and approach our legal department who will be able to help you:

  • Do your title deeds reflect the current state of your property?
  • Did you obtain the necessary building permit?
  • Did you notify the Catastro of the work being carried out?
  • Did you get permission from the community of owners? (if applicable)

Of course, if all the answers to these questions are ‘yes’ then you should feel pleased that you are evidently building permit compliant and can enjoy your extension, swimming pool or refurbishment without worrying about the consequences.

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31 July, 2018 5:05 pm

Does this apply to Mallorca as we are hoping to extend the veranda to our finca?
I know I need permission for the swimming pool

Suzanne O'Connell

2 August, 2018 1:46 pm

Hi Philomena

Yes, it does 

Hi Philomena

Yes, it does 

Hazel Evans

10 February, 2020 5:25 pm

We wish to build an extension over an existing terrace and intend to apply for a licence. Is there a time limit for neighbours to object to the extension (as there is in the UK with planning permission)?

Oscar Paoli

17 February, 2020 3:27 pm

Hi Hazel,
You will have to have an unanimous permission by all owners.
Kind regards,
Ábaco Advisers


2 March, 2020 2:33 pm

We want to add balustrading onto an existing wall around the front of our property. Do we need to get a minor works licence?

Oscar Paoli

4 March, 2020 3:41 pm

Hi Karen,
We recommend to always apply for a licence when carrying out any works at your property.
Kind regards,
Ábaco Advisers