Buying Off-Plan Property in Spain: Permits, Costs, and More

buying off-plan property in spain

There are some legal permits you need to know about when you are buying off-plan property in Spain. Let’s explore some key areas to help you think about your potential or existing construction project, and the necessary legal requirements and procedures you can expect. Because property buying can be a complex, and this is just an overview. We always recommend getting a professional to assist.

Building permits

A licencia is mandatory before the construction of any building commences. Therefore, it’s validity is essential when buying off-plan property in Spain. Also, the permit must be obtained for any construction work on an existing building in case you want to change the usage, exterior appearance or change the volume. For example, you need a licencia to add a storey for both commercial and residential properties.

Spanish construction permits are categorized into two:

  • Licencia for minor works such as walls, terraces, and barbecues.
  • Licencia for major works such as new buildings, alterations, and demolitions.

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Obtaining permits

When it comes to permits for minor works, you are required to request a Licencia de Obra Menor at the local Town Hall. The application typically entails a brief description of the project to be undertaken and the estimated costs.

For major works, you need a Licencia de Obra Mayor that is created by a qualified architect (registered in the Spanish architecture college). The architect identifies a suitable technical architect (aparejador) who usually acts as the site manager of the construction site. The project owner has to have a suitable builder who also signs the application.

Permit applications can be submitted either in person or through a registered to the local alcalde. A receipt is subsequently issued. The processing time for the licence request is typically within two months after the date of submission.

During the processing, a thorough examination has to be done to confirm that the correct information has been provided. Subsequently, details of the request are posted in the town hall. In case you don’t receive a notification within two months, then you will automatically obtain the construction permit, assuming that the project has been approved.

NOTE: All the parties involved in the construction of a project are legally required to carry some obligations and responsibilities. These are detailed in the building act LOE of 5th November 1999 (Ley de Ordenación de la Edificacion).


The relevant tax is paid at the end of the construction project. You can expect to pay about 4% to 6% of the overall construction cost.

Planning zones

All properties in Spain fall into two categories:

  • Rustic(rural) plots (suelo rustico)

Under the rural land law in Spain, some specially protected land (Suelo no urbanizable protegido) are protected and cannot be developed for residential homes. On the other hand, rural land categorized as Suelo no urbanizable común can be developed for residential houses for private use.

Additionally, there are profound rights and restrictions of a rural plot regarding minimum plot size, maximum building size, floors, and heights, among other factors. All rustic plots in Spain typically have some aesthetic restrictions. In this regard, different planning zone have varying regulations. More often than not, you have to construct a typical regional-style building that is unique to a specific planning zone.

  • Urban plots (suelo urbano)

Suelo urbano refers to serviced plots that typically have access to road, water and electricity, among other infrastructure.  When it comes to urban plots in Spain, different planning zone have varying rules. However, the plot sizes limitation is between 800m2 and 1,500m2.

Avoiding Fines and Other Penalties

In case you are a property deed holder or planning to construct a building in Spain, we highly recommend that you are fully aware of relevant licencia to avoid negative consequences. For example, the relevant authorities are likely to fine you for lack of a proper building permit.

Town hall inspectors regularly check renovations and home improvements. In this regard, you want to ensure your building site is fully licensed.  It’s prudent to register all changes made to your project.

When it comes to hiring the workforce, there are several rule and regulations that apply to foreign construction professionals. Also, certain rules specifically apply to the hiring of foreign workers. Consequently, you want to ensure you abide by the relevant labour laws.

Final thoughts

When it comes to choosing a contractor, we highly recommend doing thorough checks on a case-by-case basis before executing any type of contract. Also, before applying for a business permit, you must do sufficient due diligence to ensure the construction project complies with the relevant building rules.

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Disclaimer: Information on this page may be incomplete or outdated. Under no circumstances should the information listed be considered professional legal advice. We highly recommended seeking guidance from a legal expert if you lack extensive knowledge or experience dealing with any of the procedures outlined in these articles.