Building permits and licenses for restoring a property in Italy

It is common that when real estate is purchased in Italy it is in need of renovation, construction, or restoration. A foreign investor may buy a property in Italy to take advantage of a great deal on a property needing work. Other times, the buyer may renovate a property to fit his specific tastes or requirements. Regardless of the reason for the renovation or restoration, it is imperative to understand the laws and rules involved in obtaining a building permit in Italy.

How to build an Italian villa: permission and authorization

Current Italian and municipal legislation stipulates that substantial types of renovation and construction are subject to permission and authorization. Additions, elevations, changes to a veranda, or changing the property’s intended use are just some examples of when a building permit is required. The granting of a building permit is dependent on provisions contained in local regulations (land use plans, structural plans) and must be carried out in compliance with national, regional, and municipal laws and regulations. In addition to the Permesso di Costruire (Permit to Build), which is an administrative permit allowing building and/or demolition in compliance with the local municipality’s urbanistic plan, there are two commonly used permits in Italy: the SCIA and the CILA. Both are used to authorize a building renovation and are generally implemented for the most substantial types of building reconstruction.

Substantial construction works in Italy: the SCIA

The SCIA (Segnalazione Certificata di Inizio Attività – Certified Start of Activity Report), is a simplified administrative authorization issued by the municipality in charge. The document acknowledges the right to proceed on the property renovation or restoration work. It is commonly used to allow for substantial maintenance work involving the building’s structure, restoration and conservative maintenance involving the building’s structure, or a renovation which may change the volume, height or shape of a building subject to limits.

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Minor construction works in Italy: the CILA

The CILA (Comunicazione Inizio Lavori Asseverata – Authenticated Communication of the Beginning of the Modifications) is used for minor building and renovation work.

Italian building code

Article 10 of the Building Unique Code (Testo Unico dell’Edilizia) stipulates that building permits are required for:

  1. new construction works;
  2. urban restructuring interventions;
  3. building renovation interventions that lead to creating building spaces totally or partially different from the previous ones, in cases where they also involve changes in the overall volume of the buildings or which, limited to the buildings included in homogeneous zones A, involve changes in the destination of use, as well as interventions that involve changes in the outline or overall volume of buildings or property prospects subject to protection pursuant to the Code of Cultural Heritage and Landscape referred to in Legislative Decree 22 January 2004, n. 42.

Zone A: historical, artistic and environmental value

Zone A means areas in which the buildings have a historical, artistic or particular environmental value. The area is indicated in the urban planning instruments.

Article 14 of the Building Unique Code stipulates that a building construction permit, notwithstanding the general urban planning instruments, is issued exclusively for public buildings and facilities or of public interest, following a resolution of the municipal council, in compliance with the provisions contained in the legislative decree of 29 October 1999, n. 490, and other sector regulations affecting the regulation of building activity. The request for a building permit in derogation is also allowed for building renovation interventions, subject to a resolution of the City Council which certifies the public interest, limited to the purposes of urban regeneration, containment of land consumption and social and urban recovery of the settlement, without prejudice, in the case of commercial settlements, to the provisions of article 31, paragraph 2, of the decree-law of 6 December 2011, n. 201, converted, with amendments, by law 22 December 2011, n. 214.

Italian Building Permit Application and Notification

The Italian Building Permit Application must include the dates construction is to begin and end. Construction cannot begin more than one year from the submission of the application and must be completed within three years from when construction begins. Applications are processed in the order they are received at the competent Municipality office. Within 60 days of submission, the applicant will formulate a “provision proposal”. The Municipality officer may request that the provisions are integrated or that the project is modified. Any additions must be made within the following 15 days and the deadline for issuing the proposed provision is suspended until then. The final and definitive measure is issued and the applicant is notified within 30 days from the issue of the “proposed measure.”

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Our group of professional architects, surveyors, and specialized technicians are knowledgeable of building regulations and experienced with local bureaucracy. This allows us to easily evaluate the best type of permit application to submit for each specific project, expediting the procedures and ensuring efficient planning and logistics.

We provide the following services:

  • Preparation of a Provisional Plan in order to draft a SCIA in accordance with the rules as stated by the competent Municipality Office;
  • Handle relations with the local public officers and schedule video-meetings;
  • Evaluate the proposed property construction to verify that the work can be carried out in compliance with the applicable Municipality Regulation;
  • Draft a project plan and submit a cost estimate based on your specific needs and budget;
  • Draft a purchase offer, conditioned upon the attainment of the permits needed to carry out the renovation.



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