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Documents to obtain a building license

Posted by Michel B. on 06/10/2020

We all consider doing a small or large work in our home, building, etc. And for this we must know that an urban planning license granted by the corresponding City Council is always necessary.

If the work is of little value, or lasts a short time, we think that it will not require much expense in documentation to request a license, but when we ask our City Council they give us a list of requirements, some of them must be obtained by hiring a Architect or Surveyor (Technical Architect or building engineer).

The criterion is that it is always, always necessary to have a building license for any action we do, no matter whether it is our property, obviously it will not be owned by the town hall; It does not matter if it is a very small or of little importance, or that it lasts a short time or costs little money, or I do it myself without hiring a company or professional.

If I go to the City Council and say that I am going to do a work, they will always tell me that I have to previously request the corresponding urban planning license, with all the requirements that the City Council puts on me, and of course, the work that I do must comply with the regulations or they won’t give me the license.

Requirements to obtain a building license.

Types of work
The first thing to say is that each City Council sets its own requirements and its own criteria when requiring documentation to obtain a building license, and differentiate between a minor work or a major work. These types of work will be defined, in theory, in the regulations of the PGOU (general urban planning plan) or urban regulations, or equivalent figure of the municipality, although in practice there are City Councils that have practically no approved regulations for urban planning.

In the LOE (building management law) it is stated what types of work require an architect, and which is sufficient with only a surveyor or technical architect.

It seems clear that in major works, an execution, reform or rehabilitation project is necessary, which requires an architect to draft it and hire the construction management; In most cases, it will also be necessary the performance of a surveyor or technical architect for the direction of material execution, and in addition, either of the two will draw up a health and safety study and carry out the order of health and safety coordination. All this is very clear for larger works.

In minor works, things get mixed up because the requirements are more different between municipalities. Normally, a lot of documentation drawn up by a qualified technician, architect or surveyor is not required, but they require filling out a form or application, providing a budget for the work signed by the construction company (to collect the works tax applying a% to that budget), a builder’s liability insurance, etc. Sometimes a scaffold assembly plan or certificate is required, or construction management to ensure that the elements to be repaired remain in sufficient safety conditions, at least on public roads; all depending on the type of work.

Now, what is the difference between a major work and a minor work?

Well, the minor works are usually those of finishes: painting, flooring, tiling, false ceilings, coatings. In many municipalities, major works are considered whether we are going to demolish or build a partition, change a door on the facade, open a hole or close it on the facade, etc. Although in other town councils they consider that the minor work depends on whether the work is small enough, since it would be outside the scope of the LOE, in accordance with the definition that appears in the exception indicated in article 2.2.a of the law, which says :

«… Except for those constructions of little constructive nature and technical simplicity that do not have, eventually or permanently, residential or public character and are developed on a single floor …»

But of course, this definition is generic and subjective, and it lends itself to interpreting that a work may or may not fall under this exception, according to the criteria of each municipal technician who informs us, so it would be necessary to present all the documentation of major work , or only the one indicated by the corresponding city council for this type of “little entity” works.


When we have a small work, we must ask the town hall, before starting anything, the requirements that they are going to ask us, indicating the works we intend to do, and then assess the cost of all this, before getting surprises and having to pay more for the same, or receive a fine from the city council for doing works without a license. I do not recommend lying and saying less than what you intend to do, because what appears to be a small work can become a major work and everything can change radically in terms of licensing requirements.

We can always modify our intentions, and change the type of work we intend to do, even once a license is requested, we can modify the type of work, the request, we can also withdraw our request, and request a new license. All this is legal and does not imply sanction or that the city council watches us to see what we do with our work.

But that if, if they catch us doing work without having paid or requested any type of municipal license for works, we will be risking that they stop the work, they will fine us, and they then require us to do all the paperwork that we have not done before, or such Once again, with what in the end it can be more expensive than if we had done it on time.

It is a bet, without a doubt, to see it goes well or not. Everyone takes the risk they want, but before taking risks, it is convenient to know the risks that one faces.

What do you think?. Has any of these happened to you? Leave us your opinion or your case, and so we all learn some detail about it.

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