Building permits (licencias) are necessary before any construction occurs. Even if the foundations are already in place, a portion of the building is already in place, the home is a pre-fab (pre-fabricated) or the building is a primary home, the building permits must be finalised first. Remember that even additions require licencias.
In Spain, there are 2 different forms of permits for building:
Minor Works Permit for walls, terraces, and barbecue areas. These can be obtained at the Town Hall. Ask for a licencia de obra menor. You will need to provide a summary of the construction you plan to have completed and an estimate of the final costs so that the Town Hall can calculate the taxes. Usually the tax costs upwards of 6% of the building costs.
- Major Works Permit for new buildings, demolitions, or remodeling. For this form of permit, you must have a written account from an architect who is registered with the Spanish Architecture College. Your architect must have a technical architect who works as the Site Manager during the construction. Finally, a builder must be lined up already. These three workers must each sign the building permit paperwork.
An application for the building permit (Solicitud de Licencia) must be submitted in person to the Town Hall Offices or by registered post. The clerk on duty will hand you a receipt. Make sure you have this receipt before you leave, as it is the only proof you will have for now that proves you have submitted the application. It takes approximately two months for an application to be processed.
Once the application has been received, the Town Hall will post you a notification letter along with an application number. From here the Town Hall makes sure all of the information is on the application, that the information is correct, and then the details of your request are posted on a bulletin board. The application is combed over to ensure you are meeting the area's building codes. If all goes well, approval is posted back within 8 to 10 weeks from the time you submitted the paperwork and a building permit is included with this approval letter.
If you have not received the official notification within ten weeks, you automatically receive your building permits providing your plans meet the area building codes and all information was correctly submitted.
Urban Plots (Also referred to as Suelo Urbano)
Urban plots already contain access routes, water lines, and electricity. Depending on where the urban plot is purchased, there will be other rules to be followed. Often, the plot size is limited to a total of 800 to 1,500 meters squared and the home should be no more than 20% of the land's area.
Before purchasing an urban plot, contact the Town Hall for a certificado urbanistico. This document is signed by Spain's Urban Planning Agency and provides documented proof as to the style of home that can be built, what the homes can and cannot be used for, how large the buildings can be, and many of the potential possibilities for the land. Never purchase land without having the certificado urbanistico.
Rural Plots (Also referred to as Suelo Rustico)
Laws for rural lands govern exactly how a landowner may use his or her land. (LEY 10/2004, de 9 de diciembre, de la Generalitat, del Suelo No Urbanizable.) Often, rural land is preserved by the preceding law. Rural plots will always be categorised by two rules 1) suelo no urbanizable protegido which is protected land on which residential buildings may not ever be built and 2)suelo no urbanizable coman which is legal land on which residential homes may be built for individual use only (no hotels). However, there are still restrictions which must be followed:-
- The plot size must be a minimum 10,000 meters squared
- The building's dimensions cannot be more than 2% of the land's size per floor.
- There must be two floors.
- The building must be seven meters high.
As an example, if the plot is 15,000m eters squared, the property must be no more than 300 meters squared. This means each of the two floors can be 300 meters squared bringing the total area to 600 meters squared. Additionally, the home must fall within the area's aesthetic plan. This means that the property you build must be in the same style as the area's other homes.
The Builder's Responsibilities
Builders are directly responsible for problems caused by mistakes or defects from a lack of professionalism, training, or qualifications. They are also responsible for negligence, failing to comply with obligations of a construction manager, or other individuals representing their construction firm.
If the builder sub-contracts the work to others, they are liable for any damages or defects without consideration to the blame the builder also has against the sub-contractors.
In general, builders are responsible for the following property damages:
- Damage caused byconstruction mistakes or weaknesses which have affected the finished product requires the builder to be liable for 1 year following completion.
- Damages caused by a professional's failure to meet habitability requirements will be covered for 3 years.
- Damages which are due to a building's stability or mechanical resistance caused by builder error are also covered.
The developer and buyer count as a similar individual with autopromocion. Property damage policies are required for 10 years following completion of the building.
Disclaimer: The information provided above is meant for reference only. The author has made every possible attempt to clarify the information, including the Spanish to English translations. The website and author are free from blame for any mistakes, deletions, or law changes, as well as for any personal opinions that are made within the document.