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Building Permissions in Spain, Spanish building permits

Updated on December 16, 2015

In Spain and most of Europe, you need a permit to build just about anything on your land. From a swimming pool, an outhouse or even a fence, wooden or metal, you will need a permit from your local Town Hall.

If you do not obtain a building permit, the Town Hall can order you to knock down anything that you have built, they will also fine you, or they may allow you to keep the building or fence at a very high cost.

I know this because I have been a fencer in Spain for over four years and have come across many of the problems that people face from their local Town Halls regarding building regulations and expensive back door permits.

Each Town Hall is different, they charge different amounts to obtain a license or permit and take different amounts of time to get the building permit passed through their red tape.

The one thing they all have in common, is that they will take your money, and they have been known to add on extras for what ever reason. If you are having a wall or fence built, in Valencia, your fence must be 5m from the centre of any track around your property which a vehicle can use, and 1m inside your boundary if it connects to your neighbours land.

When asking permission from a Town Hall, you must present your land documents to say you own the land, an overlay or map showing where the fence or wall will be built and how high, a factora ( or estimate ) on how much it will all cost, and then of course, the fees.

Get permission for fencing
Get permission for fencing

Costs and Time Scales

In Spain mainly, when you submit your planning ideas to the local Town Hall, along with your estimate for costs, they will usually send your documents to the regional planning office.

This can take up to two weeks just to send them off, depending on the Town Hall. In rural areas, planning permission is usually given quicker than if you were in a built up area. Some small fencing or walls, built in rural areas, can result in a license being issued within twenty minutes, depending on who is at the Town Hall at the time.

The time it takes to build anything has no impact on the fees charged. The Town Hall will charge you a percentage of the cost of the building work on completion. So if you have put in an estimate of 10,000 euros for the total of your building work, you can be charged between 8% and 12%, again depending on the Town Hall.

There is no official fee table, as all Town Halls are run independently. Whatever you are going to have built, it is always best to consult the Town Hall, it may prove to be an invaluable waste of time, but, it could also save you lots of trouble with the locals and the authorities at a later date.

If you are having a firm erect your building for you, consult with them, they may know more about your area and the new laws. Please note, in Europe the laws change quicker than the weather. I erected a fence 4m from the centre of the road, this was the law in Valencia at the time, but it had changed two weeks before hand, with no public notification, I had to remove the fence at my own cost and adjust it to five meters from the centre of the road.

It is also extremely wise to consult with your neighbours on perimeter fences or walls, because land issues are the most common complaint in Europe, resulting in long expensive legal battles. Your land documents may say that you own an extra meter on one side of your land, but your neighbours may also say that they own it, so consult with them as much as possible.

Using a Lawyer

Some people use a lawyer for most of there building permits and licensing. This can be expensive, but usually there is then no future problems, although using a lawyer is not always foolproof.

Simple building projects, such as perimeter walls, retaining walls, fencing, small swimming pools etc, can easily be done by yourself at the Town Hall with very little hassle. The staff at most Town Halls, usually have one English, French or German speaking person there to help you. If not, you can always hire a translator for an hour, it may be worth it. Do not take anything for granted, if in doubt about any type of building matter, consult with the Town Hall.

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