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Refurbishing your Spanish property

'Doing up' your property can be a good alternative to selling. Rather than spending money on upsizing or downsizing, you put extra capital into making your existing premises more suitable. However, you should be aware that even minor adjustments to your property need permission from the Town Hall.


Casa en obrasPermission comes in the form of a building licence and is a very important document if you want to be sure that your extension stays extended. If you are considering anything from an outside shed to a major refurbishment you should check that:

  • You have permission from the Town Hall in the form of a building licence.
  • Any works you have done are included in your Title Deed.
  • The Catastro has been informed.

Permission should be obtained before the builder starts work. Your builder is unlikely to draw your attention to the need for a licence and if they claim to have already obtained one, ask to see it. They cannot apply for one without you knowing and if a problem emerges later it won’t be them who has to resolve it.

The building licence

Depending upon the size of your project and your Town Hall, you will need one of the following licences:

  • Obra mayor – extending the house or changing its structure. Obra Mayor
  • Obra menor – anything else such as building a balustrade or awning.

If it’s an ‘Obra mayor’ you will need an architect’s input. If you are part of a community of owners you will need to demonstrate that they are in agreement with any works you have proposed. This can be the case even when the community is not fully functioning.

You will need to have any changes made registered on your Title Deed when you come to sell, bequeath or re-mortgage your property. You might get away with it for the time being but you may well find that not having taken the necessary steps now could lead to obstacles in the future.

Is it necessary?

If you look around many older urbanisations, virtually every house seems to have had something done to it and it is unlikely that they all have a building licence. However, there are inspectors who do visit urbanisations and might take disciplinary action including:

  • Issuing a fine.
  • A requirement for you to legalise the refurbishment/extension if you are able.
  • A demolition order if the building work cannot be legalised  because of urban planning regulations.

It is worth taking the proper route and being sure that you can enjoy your refurbishment knowing it is here to stay.

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Ábaco Asesores

Ábaco Asesores is a firm of lawyers and tax advisers established on the Costa Blanca in 1999. We have clients all over the world and provide legal and tax advice in seven different languages.

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