Spain Explained

What Spanish building regulations mean for your property

Even the most perfect dream home in Spain will need some renovation from time to time. Whether it is anything from glazing a balcony to building a new pool, there are some legal implications that you need to be aware of. Also, if you are buying a property that has had work done on, there are Spanish building regulations that apply before the purchase can continue. 

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Clients constantly ask us about the legal process for obtaining a licence for beginning new works on their homes and for legalising works they have already completed. Here, it is very important that you comply with Spanish building regulations. If not, you could run into problems with the local authorities or town hall and be fined. Having all the licences in order also makes the property easier to sell in the future.

Types of work: Major or Minor 

What is the difference between major and minor works? Basically, if the structure of the building is not modified or extended then that work is classified as minor. For example, a minor work (Licencia de Obra Menor) would include painting the house, tiling or renovating the kitchen. If you choose to put an extension on the property, put a pool in the backyard or glaze your balcony you would need to apply for a major works (Licencia de Obra Mayor) licence

Who is liable for the licence?

It is very important to be aware that even if the architect or builder assures you that the appropriate licences are in place, that it is ultimately you as the property owner that is responsible for their validity. We recommend that you always ask anybody that claims to have the licence to show it to you. Also, you should be aware of other documents that will be necessary before the completion of the process.

Consequences of non-compliance

As explained, it is very important to have all the documents in order for a smooth process. Town halls regularly send inspectors to ensure everything is above board. If they see illegal construction or a construction site without all the corresponding paperwork and licences then they may fine the owners heavily. They may also ask the owners to make the construction works properly legal by applying for the correct permits. If the owner is unable to do this then they have the power to ask the owner to demolish the new works

A potential buyer should ask a solicitor to check the property and any extensions or other work done before purchasing. At the end of the day, the owner is liable for the presence of valid licences and documents. 

What should you do?

If you are planning on doing some work to your property then it is better to apply for the licence in advance, before starting the work. However, if you have been working on the property before applying for the licence then you can still apply retroactively

Regardless of whether you obtained the licence in advance or retroactively the second step will be amending the title deeds. Any major work must be included in the title deeds in order to sell your property correctly and without problems. To proceed, you need two very important documents.

  1. The licence from town hall
  2. A works completion certificate from an architect
  3. Project certificate

Certificate of antiquity

If you are unable to obtain a licence because the planned work does not conform to urban law, then you will need a certificate of antiquity from an architect. This certificate applies if some time has passed since the completion of the work. This is dependent on where in the country the property is located. For instance, in the Valencia region, the work must be at least 15 years old. If this applies to you, then you can use this certificate to “replace” any necessary licence.  

When you have either the certificate of antiquity or the licence with appropriate certificates then you can go ahead with the declaration of new works. Please bear in mind that you will need a certificate of authorisation from your community administrator which must be obtained at the AGM. For this reason, we at Ábaco Advisers recommend that you contact your president or administrator before proceeding.

Finally, when you have your certificates and documents ready you can then go to the notary to make your property conform with Spanish building regulations.

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Apply as early as possible to comply with Spanish building regulations

We recommend you obtain the licence as early as possible to avoid any possible hiccups in the process and before any works are carried out to remain ahead of the law. To avoid any future problems with the sale you should also declare any works in the title deeds of the property. For a personalised study of your case, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time that suits you, and we will offer you a first free consultation without obligation.

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susan Holmes

30 August, 2020 7:11 pm

If an extension is carried out without permission and a denouncier is recorded at the town hall and a council inspector inspects and takes pictures of the extension of the building can the owner of the property apply for permission retroactively after the denouncier and council inspection.

Oscar Paoli

31 August, 2020 1:56 pm

Hi Susan,

Yes, you can request a building license retroactively. The city council must grant a period for the owner to legalize or demolish the works.

Therefore, the works are denounced, the city council takes legal action and notifies the owner and then the owner has a deadline to legalize the works. If the works are not legalizable, you will have to demolish them. Otherwise you will be fined and the works could be withdrawn by the city council at its own cost when the time comes.

With best regards,

Ábaco Advisers