Permits or licences required for building or refurbishing property in Spain

Building a house in Spain
Building a house in Spain

The permits you need are issued by the City Councils (Ayuntamientos). The types of permits and the requirements to obtain them vary depending on the extent of the project but in general they can be group as follows:

– Permits for major construction (obras mayores) for new construction and restoration projects
– Permits for minor construction (obras menores) for renovations

The costs of both of these types of permits are calculated based on the percentage of the final construction fee. Since this license has to be obtain before the project begin, initially, the client will have to pay for the license calculated based on the estimated fee, then once the project is completed, the client then will have to pay for the difference based on the actual costs of the project.

The request for the permit (solicitud de licencia ) require a cost and so does the permit itself. The work permit for major work should cost between 3 and 3,5% of the initial referential budget. The cost for a work permit for minor construction is lower and very often free in the case there is no modification in the interior distribution. Once granted the city council allows a year time frame to begin construction and between six months to two years to finish depending on the scale of the construction. Any license can be prolonged with an addition cost.

Other types of licenses and permits:

The habitability certificate (La cédula de habitabilidad)

Once the work is completed, it is necessary to obtain the certificate for habitability. This it is a certificate that issue by the autonomous communities (comunidades autónomas) of Spain and that certifies the construction fulfills the regulations of habitability in Spain. The cost is insignificant in view of the other expenses. It should be requested for and pay by the client.

The license of first occupation (La licencia de primera ocupación)

After the completion of the work, the City Council (Ayuntamiento) must ensure that the construction corresponds with the original project to which it has given license to. To attain this, the City Council will arrange a visit with the client and will verify various aspects of the work. When approved, the license of initial occupation will allow for requests of services for utilities such as electricity, water and gas. Its cost is insignificant in view of the other expenses.

© Habitan Architects

Thoughts on “Permits or licences required for building or refurbishing property in Spain

  • Ernest Tufft says:

    This article says very little about remodel projects. What plans are required for a remodel of bathroom for example, and when does the building code inspector visit? I was told that nobody visited. Also, the price of the architect, who not only provides wet ink blueprints, but also cost estimations within scope of his work, is not discussed. I have a friend who paid out 11k euro just for the architect. His work included putting in a two steel beams and renovation of apartment within a historic stone building, but that’s a lot of money still.

  • Thanks for a nice article!

    I live in Gran Canaria. I intend to both remove and build some new inner walls (new floor layout internally), change position of bathrooms and kithchens, new waterpipes, electricity, change rotten windows to new alu ones.
    I assume that would require a major construction permit?

    I was also wondering how difficult it is to fill out the neccessary papers for a permit, with only a very basic knowledge of Spanish. Do you think google translate will be sufficient for me to understand what to write, what papers to submit asf…. or will I be forever lost in the infamous “Spanish bureaucracy”?

    A million karma to anyone who can enlighten me with the definitive answers! 🙂


    • Mark Stücklin says:

      Geir, you might be able to get that done with an ‘obra menor’ building licence but I don’t know what the local rules in the Canaries are like. Even so I think you might need an architect to sign off the application, so if I were you I wouldn’t try to do it all alone with basic Spanish. Just pay a professional to do it and sleep easy.

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