When we buy an apartment or a house, it is usual to do work to renovate the facilities, modify the kitchen or bathroom, paint, change the windows and doors or redistribute the house. In this sense, the possibilities for reforms are practically endless. The question is: Which of these actions need a building license and which don’t? Is it mandatory to request this permit?
Where should we process it? What if we do work at home without a license? What kind of fines do we face? Can the Community of Owners report us?
Why Are Building Licenses Necessary?
Building licenses are the administrative tools that our legislation observes to guarantee that any intervention in a building complies with the Technical Building Code. In this way, when we do work at home, we ensure that certain standards are maintained that affect, fundamentally, the quality of the materials and our safety and integrity.
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On the other hand, the Building License is mandatory to request and obtain the opening licenses (in the case of businesses), first occupation (in the case of homes) and basic supplies such as electricity, water, gas, etc.
What Happens If You Do Work Without A License?
The license is mandatory when we do a reform or rehabilitation. To obtain it, you must submit a descriptive report of all the work to be carried out at the City Council, which will be reviewed by a certified technician.
In this sense, the license implies protection by an Official College in matters of civil liability since, if you do not follow this administrative process, any accident will be your responsibility at all levels. When doing work without a license you can receive a complaint from your City Council.
The fine for doing work without a license can range from € 600 to € 6,000, although it depends on municipal legislation on urban infringements. As a general rule, this financial fine will not be less than 2% of the value of the work.
In some cases, doing work at home without a license also implies the demolition of the reforms if they are not compatible with the current legislation and, therefore, are considered illegal. If the work can be legalized, you will have to pay the fine associated with the complaint, in addition to the subsequent legalization of it.
That is, you will have to pay the fine and request the corresponding license (and pay its fees), within a specified period of time. If the problem is that you have not requested the appropriate type of license, you will also have a deadline to carry out this process.
In any case, doing work at home without a license implies taking a risk that is not worth it. Our advice is that you consult with professionals to find out what type of permit you need and follow the deadlines and legal procedures to obtain it.
Are There Several Types of Building Licenses?
Obviously, not all works are the same, nor do they all affect the security of a home or property in the same way. For example, if we want to paint one of the rooms in our house, we are not modifying the structure of the building or putting it at risk, and we are not going to make changes that could alter the construction beyond an aesthetic issue inside our house, so we would not need any special permission.
In addition to painting, other jobs that do not require a license include:
- Replacement of flooring and tiling.
- Smoothing the walls.
- Parquet sanding.
- Replacement of the electrical installation.
- Internal replacement of the water supply network.
For the rest of the works at home, the administration observes two types of licenses or permits that you must request at your local Town Hall. Major work permit (also known as Building permit, Construction permit or Urban license) Minor work license (also known prior communication of minor work).
What Is Major Work?
Although the concept is listed in each municipal ordinance and in each General Urban Development Plan (PGOU), the following are considered major works:
- New plant works.
- Works that involve a change in the use of the property (for example, if we convert a commercial premise into a home or vice versa).
- Works that affect the height or volume of a property (eliminating partitions, joining private apartment stairs, etc).
- Works that modify the structure of the building.
- Works that modify the common elements of the buildings (enclosures in community terraces, works in garages, etc).
- Works related to fire protection.
Obtaining a license for these works is associated with the presentation of a project/performance report, a plan and a budget.
What Are Minor Works?
For their part, minor works are much simpler in terms of technique and, in general, they are also more affordable economically. In addition, minor works do not imply a change in the structures or common elements of the property and are not associated with a work project, since it is considered that they do not affect the safety regulations of the Technical Building Code. According to this definition, minor works are considered:
- The replacement of coatings, both on floors and walls.
- The installation of enclosures on balconies, terraces, etc.
- The suppression of elements that represent architectural barriers.
- The change of doors and windows.
- The air conditioning and heating installations.
- Sanitation facilities, prospecting, etc.
In addition to major and minor works, there are other actions that may require communication to the City Council and the application for the corresponding license. Some of these jobs are the installation of scaffolding or rubble containers on public roads. In these cases, a specific permit associated with the corresponding Building License is usually requested, although it depends on each City Council.