Getting Planning Permission in Spain and How to Apply for It

Whether you’re building a house in Spain or simply hoping to update your bathroom, or extend your kitchen, it’s likely that you will need planning permission in Spain to undertake any home improvement work. The rules surrounding planning permission in Spain are much more restrictive than they are in other countries, such as the UK, and you will need to obtain it for almost any type of home renovation Spain.

Unfortunately, this means that restoring a property, renovating, or building a house in Spain is all much more complicated, because of the red tape involved in even the most minor works. You’ll need planning permission for small work, like changing your windows or installing a new kitchen, like adding an extension or securing planning permission for a pool. Here’s everything you need to know about the legal planning permission requirements in Spain, and how to apply for the right kind of planning permission to undergo your next project:

The Two Types of Planning Permission in Spain

There are two different types of planning permission certificate you can obtain in Spain, with the permission you need determined by the size of your project. If you’re undertaking minor work then you’re need a Licencia de Obra Menor and if you’re tackling a bigger project you’ll need a Licencia de Obra Mayor:

  • The licencia de obra menor covers minor projects that, in other countries, might fall under a home maintenance heading. Projects such as changing your flooring, making any upgrades to your electrical system, or improving your kitchen or bathroom will all fall under this heading. These are projects that don’t require you to make any structural changes to your home.  To secure a licencia de obra menor you will need to report to your local town hall with a completed application form, photographs of your property, a description of the project you wish to understand and a breakdown of your budget and costs, and a health and safety report from your builder or contractor. Provided your paperwork is in order, securing planning permission in Spain for this type of project is relatively straight forward.
  • The Licencia de obra mayor covers any larger structural projects: from getting planning permission for a pool to building a house in Spain, this is the right certificate for you. The licencia de obra mayor even covers small structural changes, such as knocking down a wall, or changing the location of certain rooms. It takes longer for this type of license to be approved (up to two months): longer if you live in a heritage building. If you’re not sure if you need the licencia de obra mayor or minor for your project, it is best to consult with the town hall before you begin the application process. To secure a licencia de obra mayor, you will need the official application and payment forms, and to make all appropriate payments, forms from your architect detailing the project, and proof that they are certified by a professional body, the title deeds for your property, and the ministry of public works forms, which your architect should complete on your behalf.

What Are the Costs Involved in Securing Planning Permission in Spain?

The costs involved in securing planning permission in Spain vary from region to region, depending on where you live. For the licencia de obra menor, the costs are minimal: in many cases, you won’t have to pay a fee at all. By contrast, the licencia de obra mayor can be very expensive. You will (of course) need to budget for the work being undertaken, the architect’s fees and the fees from their professional college too. In terms of securing your planning permission, you should then expect to pay an additional fee of between 2 and 6 percent of your total project cost to the local town hall. The exact percentage fee charged will, again, depend on the figure set in your region. Applying for planning permission in Spain can be both an expensive and time consuming process.

A Step by Step Guide to Applying for Planning Permission in Spain

  • The first step only applies if you live in an apartment block or community: in this case, you will need to discuss your plans with the chair or your building association, and ensure your plans don’t fall foul of any association rules or guidelines.
  • Once you have the go ahead, you will need to hire an architect: it doesn’t matter whether your project is big or small, submitting professional architect drawings alongside your application is a requirement for both types of planning permission in Spain. The exception to this is if the change is very minimal, such as painting your property or replacing some flooring.
  • Your architect will be able to help you complete and submit the right planning permission application forms to your local town hall, as well as to their own certificating body.
  • You should then be in a strong position to have your planning permission approved: when you receive this approval, you will be given a time frame within which the work must be completed, and it’s important to adhere to this.

What if You Don’t Apply For Planning Permission in Spain?

Wondering if it might just be easier to ‘forget’ about your planning permission application and simply indulge in a little DIY? Beware. You could be fined, forced to demolish any unauthorised work, or you may not be able to sell your home with illegal changes to it when the time comes. You should also be aware that many city councils will undertake random home checks if they see any rubble or debris outside a property, or if they receive a noise complaint about unexpected hammering or drilling. You may also face fines if the final outcome of your completed project is different to the architect’s plans that were submitted when you sent in the application. Follow the rules, and stick to the brief, is the best advice for home improvers in Spain.

 Have you always dreamt of living in Spain or retiring to Spain? Whether you’re looking for golden mile properties in Marbella or bargain property ready for renovation in Andalucia, our local property experts are perfectly placed to turn your dreams into a reality. Why not get in touch to find out more about how we can help you.



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