Buying a plot/project

First you need to buy a plot of land or a renovation project. When you buy a plot beware what kind of plot you buy and what kind of planning is permitted. Basically there are three important classifications applicable on land in Spain; Finca urbana (urban land), finca rustica (rustic land) and Zona verde (green zone).

Finca urbana can be built on, of course there will be local planning restrictions but once you follow them you are quite free in your plan.

Finca Rustica is a little trickier. Sometimes there might be a possibility for building but it will be with a lot of restrictions. Be cautious when buying this kind of land although with good research you could end up with a very beautiful location.

On Zona Verde it is forbidden to build. In Marbella some people just went and built on green zones so let your lawyer find out all details about the plot.


First you will need to find an architect. Find one that is registered with the Royal College of Architects in your region. Let him show you some previous work before you make a decision. Let him recommend some builders but also invite some yourself.

The architect will draw up a proyecto basico or anteproyecto and after your approval the proyecto de ejecucion which is more detailed. The last one will be used by the builder to calculate the building costs and will be taken to the Royal College of Architects for approval and stamping. After this you are ready to ask for the license, within two or three months you should have an answer from Town Hall.

Building permits

There are two kinds of building permits;

The licencia de obras menor covers small building projects such as walls, terraces and barbecue areas. This is usually fairly easy to obtain from the local authority. When the licencia is approved, and before you receive the permiso de obras, or the building permit, you will have to pay a tax to the authority (up to 6% of what the job costs). Various authorities can and do ask to see this permit, including the local police and the técnico.

The licencia de obras mayor is needed for major works: new buildings, extensive alterations and demolition.

Once the building is complete, both your architect and the town hall técnico must carry out a thorough inspection and sign off on the project.

You will then get your certificado de fin de obras (completion of construction certificate). You’ll need this certificate to obtain your licencia de primera ocupacion, without which you won’t be able to get utilities connected or register the newly restored building in your own name. You will then ask for a new escritura (set of title deeds) with the registro (land registry).

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