If you do decide to embark on a renovation project, you will need to follow some rules and regulations – failure to adhere to these will prove costly, if not disastrous!
Planning regulations are applied much more vigorously by the Spanish authorities than they were a decade ago – you will need to follow them correctly to ensure you have no problems and can enjoy your property in peace.
To make external alterations to your property – whether it be adding walls, creating doorways or increasing the size of windows – you will need both planning permission and a building licence. You can apply for this at your local Ajuntamiento (town hall), and you will need to ask for Licencia de Obra (works license). There are two kinds of building licenses in Spain:
- Licencia de Obra Mayor (Licence for major work): this is for those who wish to extend a property or alter its structure in any way. You will need a local architect for this and permission from your town hall.
- Licencia de Obra Menor (Licence for minor work): fundamentally this applies to interior work, alterations, replacements, painting interior walls, patios or anything that is invisible from the outside of a property.
However, there are different types of licences within each category and they will need different documentation. You should not worry too much as your solicitor and architect will be able to help you with these. You may need a:
- Licencia de obra Mayor de Amplificación - if you are extending the existing building.
- Licencia de obra Mayor por rehabilitación de edificios (major works licence for building restoration) - if you are restoring a historic building in a city centre. These buildings are of national importance, like listed buildings in the UK.
- Licencia de obra Menor – if you are restoring the property internally, for example if you are installing central heating for example, adding bathrooms, repainting walls, repairing carpentry and altering the plumbing or electrical installations.
As with all things that require a licence, you will need to provide paperwork and documents:
- For a major works licence, you will need the official application form, another form for payment of administration costs, a document outlining the project, signed by your architect, and a document proving the architect or project manager is fully accredited.
- For a minor works licence you will need the standard application form, some photos of the current state of the property, a description of the work you want to do together with a breakdown of the budget and total costs, plans and a health and safety study.
Once your town hall has all the necessary information, they will calculate the tax payable to carry out the renovation. This varies from authority to authority but is usually somewhere between 2-6% of the cost of the project.
There are further regulations, strictly enforced these days, if the property is near a beach. You can no longer build close to the sea, as the Spanish authorities are now protecting the coastline and its wildlife. If you are purchasing such a property, we would recommend including a clause in the sales contract that states that the sale is dependent on planning and building permission being granted by the town hall.
We know this sounds daunting, but remember that many people have bought and successfully renovated old farmhouses, apartments and villas. They now have the house that suits them, and in the long term this is a good investment - the original price of a property in need of renovation is considerably less than one you can move straight into, and reputable local builders will be able to do the work for a reasonable cost.