Construction permit process in Catalonia: single-family house

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Construction permit process in Catalonia: single-family house

What’s the Construction permit process in Catalonia: single-family house?

How does the single-family house process go in Spain and Catalonia?

Going crazy to discover this? Don’t worry, we summarize it for you in this post.

May you don’t know us yet, let’s have a quick introduction: we’re ERA architects.
Actually, I’m Esther Rovira, architect and passive house designer in Barcelona, Catalonia and Andorra for either passive houses, efficient houses and positive houses.
In this post ‘Construction permit process in Catalonia: single-family house’, you’ll find our professional recommendation.
I hope it helps you! Let’s go!


Building a single-family house in Catalonia is an exciting venture.
And it’s essential to navigate the permit process smoothly.
Understanding the specific regulations and procedures applicable to the region is crucial to ensure a successful construction project.
In this post, we will provide an overview of the permit process for single-family house construction in Catalonia in 6 steps:

1. Urban Planning Regulations in Catalonia
Catalonia has its own set of urban planning regulations and guidelines that govern construction projects.
These regulations are different in each city or town. Actually, they are different even in the same town!
That’s the reason it’s crucial to consult the specific regulations and guidelines of the specific plot where your project is located.
This step ensures compliance with local requirements from the outset.
Prepare yourself to find regulations such as: façade materials and color, window materials and dimensions, height and type of fencing, ground floor level location, garden walls maximum height…

2. Local Municipality Requirements
Each city or town in Catalonia may have its own specific requirements and procedures for obtaining permits.
For example, Sant Cugat has its own rain water harvesting requirements. Barcelona, depending on the neighborhood, expect to be forced to have wood windows in a specific color.
Having an architect to contact the local town planning department or municipality is essential to understand the local regulations, documentation requirements, and permit application process.
With one visit, the architect can provide detailed information on what is needed for your specific project.
Prepare to wait for a month to get a visit in some city halls (Barcelo).
It’s a must to speak at least Spanish to do these visits and have a minimum of architectural knowledge and vocabulary to survive these dense meetings.
In some towns, its even a PLUS to speak Catalan.

3. Architectural Project
Engaging the services of an architect registered in Catalonia is key to a successful project.
A knowledgeable architect familiar with the local regulations can design your single-family house according to the specific requirements.
They will prepare the necessary documentation for the permit application, ensuring compliance with the regional guidelines (which are usually complex and sometimes contradict eachother).

4. Permit Application Process
To start the permit application process, you will need to submit your application first to the architectural institute and then to the local municipality.
This application will include architectural plans, site plans, environmental impact assessments (if applicable), and other supporting documents.
The local municipality will review your application for compliance with local regulations and guidelines.

5. Review and Approval
During the review process, the local municipality will carefully assess the submitted documentation and plans.
They may request modifications or additional information to ensure compliance with the regulations (they usually do).
Once the plans are approved, the municipality will issue the necessary permits for your single-family house construction to proceed.
Note that some townhalls take long to answer.
Actually by law they have 2 months to answer, however some town-halls take longer and you cannot do anything about it.
This is the case of Barcelona, Sitges, Sant Cugat, Sant Just Desvern to mention just a few.

6. Construction and Inspections
With the permits in hand, you can start construction of your single-family house.
Throughout the construction process, the architect conduct inspections at different stages to verify compliance with the approved plans and building regulations.
Then at the end there’s an inspection by the town-hall.
The goal of this inspection is to ensure the project aligns with the required standards.
Basically the inspector reviews: volume heights, volume limits, soil movement, inside heights and widths, fencing and façade materials and colors.
Some city halls take ages to come.
And of course, expect 2 months for the inspector to come!


Our professional recommendation:
Navigating the permit process for single-family house construction in Catalonia involves understanding the specific regulations, an engaging architect with the local municipalities, and working closely with a knowledgeable architect (preferable a local Catalan speaker).
By following the outlined steps and seeking professional guidance, you can lay the foundation for a successful construction project.
Remember, each town-city hall may have its own variations, so it’s essential to consult with local experts for accurate and up-to-date information on the permit process in your specific location.

I have soooooooo many anecdotes! I’ll just say two here today.

On one hand, let me tell you about the permits approval process (2).
More than once we handed permits and the town hall responded after 8 months.
Their response ALWAYS include some kind of requirement (no matter how many times you’ve visited them to check and clarify doubts).
So, we handed in requirements within 24 hours and the city hall took 2 more months to answer.
This is standard procedure of townhall workers in city halls of Catalonia and some places in Spain.
There’s none to blame here, city hall technicians are overloaded with paperwork. They are doing lots of site visits, inspections and meetings and only work a few hours at the office during the week.
So, expect at least 10-12 months before you get the construction permit for your single-family house.

On the other, let me give you an anecdote of the final inspection process.
There was this time we finished the works the 15th of May and the inspector came in late July (it’s just always 2 months!) (and of course he went on vacations until September after that!).
The clients have been living there for that time. They wanted intimacy from the street and installed an agriculture textile on the fencing.
The regulations said that fencing should be ‘openwork fenced’. You could actually see shadows trough the fencing.
However, the inspector said he would give the finalization of construction only when the textile on the fencing will be removed.
The inspector took some vacations until September after that visit, so clients couldn’t have the final construction paperwork to live there until late October!
I have to say, lately inspectors are asking for very picky requirements which extends the finalizations of works for ever.
So it’s best to comply the regulations sharp.


You may also be interested in:
In our soon coming post: Construction permit delay by Catalan town-hall
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Hope this post ‘Construction permit process in Catalonia: single-family house’ is helpful!
(Leave a comment below if you need more info)

Best of luck on this adventure.
See you on the next post,



Founder of ERA architects 

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By |2023-05-19T11:55:28+02:00April 19th, 2023|Passive House Architect Barcelona|0 Comments

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