Tuesday, 14th July 2020

This Month's Magazine
Understanding Spanish building rules and regulations

Understanding Spanish building rules and regulations

It would have saved a lot of grief if some of those who had decided to build their own properties some years ago had been aware that even in Spain there are building rules and regulations that need to be adhered to.

We are providing the following information for general guidance only, mainly to show that you must always seek the advice of a qualified professional. It works out cheaper and safer in the end.

There are two categories of planning zones for building:

  1. Rustic (rural) plots (suelo rustico) The rural land law governs the building rules of rural sites. And here again, some rural land is protected, so that all plots fall under one of the two following criteria:
    Suelo no urbanizable protegido. This is special, protected land which cannot be developed for residential homes.
    Suelo no urbanizable común. This category has no special protection and can be developed for residential houses for private use with the following restrictions:
    - A Plot size: minimum 10,000m2
    - B Maximum building size: 2% of the . plot size
    - C Floors: 2
    - D Height: 7m
    Special Restrictions: All rustic plots have aesthetic restrictions depending on the local appearance regulations.
  2. Urban plots (suelo urbano)
    In the first instance do not buy a plot without a certificado urbanistico. Each Ayuntamiento has its own rules but they define urbanised plots with access roads, water and electricity and they confirms the type of plot, the occupation purpose, building space and type of building.

A licencia (building permit) must be obtained before the construction of any building can begin, including any work carried out on an existing building where this work would change the image change the usage, exterior appearance, modify the volume, or where extra storeys would be created. 

There are two types of building permits:

  1. Permit for minor works: walls, terraces, and barbecues.
  2. Permit for major works: new buildings, alterations, and demolitions.

To obtain a building permit for minor works, you need a licencia de obra menor from your Town Hall. Your request should include a small description of the work to be undertaken and an estimation of the costs. There will be a tax to pay at the end of the job, normally around 4 to 6% of the construction cost.


To obtain a building permit for major works you will need:

  1. Technical dossier (proyecto) created by an architect registered in the Spanish architecture college
  2. A technical architect (aparejador), normally chosen by the architect. The technical architect is the site manager in official control of the building site
  3. A builder

All three of these professionals have to sign the application. The application is submitted either in person or by registered post to the local mayor, and it is usually processed within two months of receipt.

A letter of notification will be sent following the submission with the application number. After an examination confirming that the correct information has been  presented, details of the request will be posted in the Town Hall. The application will be verified for compliance with the building rules. The permiso de construir (building permit) will normally be delivered within two months.

If the building authority does not give you a notification within two months, you will automatically obtain the license, assuming that the correct information was submitted and it complies with building regulations.

All parties involved in the construction of the building are expected to carry some responsibility. Without prejudice to their contractual responsibilities, the individuals or legal entities who assist in the building process are liable to the owners and thirdparty buyers of the building or any parts of it, should the building be divided.

Responsibilities reflect on property damages affecting the building within a specified time, starting on the date of the commencement of the works without reservation or starting on the date of the correction of such reservations.

MATECNO, Architect
Architects, Building & Construction Management iin Marbella, Sotogrande, Puerto Banus, Estepona, Maniilva, San Pedro, Avenida Manilva, 1 -1ºG, 29692
+34 679 173 916
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MATECNO, Architect

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