Often when considering selling, property owners decide to make improvements or build extensions to their Spanish properties to add value and make them more attractive to prospective buyers. Adding an outbuilding in the garden next to the pool, a few additional guestrooms, building a cellar with home cinema or an indoor heated swimming pool all sound like a great idea on paper but unfortunately, you can find yourself in a bureaucratic nightmare.

The fact is that unless these kind of structural improvements have been approved by the relevant authorities, they may become a complete waste of money and even prevent you from selling your home.

What are the Legal consequences of Unregistered Property Improvements?

There are several risks associated with not following the statutory procedure as follows:

  • Should your town hall catch you undertaking non-sanctioned improvements on your home you can be heavily fined and forced to pull down the improvements at your own expense.
  • You could face the daunting prospect of criminal proceedings against you dependent on the illegality committed, which is particularly true of rural property.
  • You may be forced to pull down the improvements at your own expense.
  • Unregistered extensions are uninsured and should they collapse or cause injury, you have no legal recourse against them. On the other hand, legal extensions are fully covered by insurance.
  • Should you need to raise capital to fund medical treatment, a lender is going to offer you significantly less money if you have not registered the extensions or improvements made to your property.
  • Most buyers require finance to buy a property and mortgage lenders will offer borrowers considerably less money for a property that has non-registered extensions as they are non-existent in the title deeds.

In order to ensure any home improvements you are considering are not to your detriment, it’s always advisable to hire a registered architect to draw up your plans in the first instance. Then it’s a case of filing and paying for a building license and waiting until full approval has been granted before commencing work.

When making major changes to your home, it may seem like the easiest way of adding value to your investment; without following legal process and procedure to get the correct consents you can wind up losing out considerably.


Your home is your most significant asset and it’s natural that you want to take care of it and make improvements over the years. It’s always recommended to consult a lawyer ahead of starting work who can advise you on how to navigate the legal system relating to structural alterations and building extensions so that you don’t fall foul of the law.

Not only is it unwise on a financial level to avoid legal process for home improvements, it can also put you on the wrong side of the law, which will leave you facing much more significant consequences. As with most things in Spain, there’s a lot of paperwork involved in getting things right and so it pays to seek professional counsel on this issue.


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