4.4. Renovation and refurbishment

You have bought a property and now need to embark on the reform or refurbishment work needed to make it exactly how you want it.

There are a number of considerations but above all, high organisational skills are required.

Establish who is responsible for construction work (obra).

According to Spanish law, the architect (arquitecto superior) and the technical architect (arquitecto técnico) are the professionals responsible for the work and all security measures. 

Once you have your architect, you will devise your project. You will need to find a contractor and get the appropriate permits. Look at several estimates before you decide.

You deal directly with the architect and the architect deals with the contractor. By all means visit the site as often as you like, but retain the chain of command, it will keep things clear and simple.


Architects are paid at the end of each successive phase, percentages which need to be established before work commences.

The contractor is paid monthly, after issuing a certificate for all work carried out during the month. The architect must review and ok the certificates every month before payment is made.


The contractor must be fully insured for third party and damages and his workmen must be covered by social security.

The architects and technicians need to provide their own professional insurance.

Permits and Licenses

Permits for major construction (Obra mayor) - For new or restoration projects.

Permits for minor construction (Obra menor) - For renovation projects.

Both permits are issued by the Town hall (Ayuntamiento) and calculated as a percentage of final (estimated) construction fee plus the difference based on actual cost).

Construction permit request (Solicitud de Licencia).

Certificate for Habitability (Celula de Habitabilidad) - Certifies construction fulfils habitability regulations – issued by Autonomous community.

Licence of Initial Occupation (Licencia de Primera Ocupación) - Approves construction and gives permission for utilities.

Home Energy Efficiency Certificates

In line with other European countries, property owners in Spain are required to have energy efficiency certificates if they are building a new property and before they sell or rent their home.

The certificate provides information on the energy characteristics of the property, rating from A to G, whereby A is the most energy efficient and G is the least.

You can apply for the certificate online via the official governmental page.

The form will ask you for basic information on the owner, the property and location.

An onsite audit is carried out by a technician. The technician will then calculate the property's energy efficiency via an authorised computer software system which will issue the property with a grade, from A to G, along with recommendations for improvements.

The certificate is then registered by the property owner at the Autonomous Community Administration Offices (Dirección General de Industria y Energia).




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