Renovations in Italy: How the building system is regulated

What is the difference between the planning permission and the D.I.A, and when do I need to apply for them?

All laws and regulations regarding the construction sector in Italy are written in the “Testo Unico dell’Ediliza”, a wide document which incorporates the building guidelines in all regions. In fact, each region has its own rules which relate to specific issues such as climate, traditions etc.

Due to the highly complex nature of these regulations and the Italian burocracy, if you want to do external/internal renovations or changes, it is important to hire a property management company who takes care of the entire work by supervising the geometra, architect, plumber, electrician etc. on your behalf.

D.I.A. (Dichiarazione di inizio attività)

The D.I.A document is necessary if you want to do internal refurbishment such as new heating, plumbing system or new fixtures.

The geometra will submit a simple project to the local town hall 20 days before the beginning of the works.

Planning permission

Planning permissions are required when doing structural changes, roof renovation, extensions, foundations, external changes such as the installation of a swimming pool etc…The plan must be prepared by a geometra or an architect who submits it to the “Commissione Edilizia”.

It can take up to 2 months (or even longer) to get the authorization. If the property is located in a seismic area, an earthquake study may be required.

If the house is situated inside an Italian National Park or historical center, it may be not easy to receive permissions because of the local building restrictions and also, permissions are often subject to the authorisation from the Ministry of Culture. This can cause delays in some cases. However, renovations need to be made by using local materials and by maintaining the original style.

It is suggested to find out exactly what can be done and what can’t be done prior to buying a home to restore and also, it is important to obtain the necessary permissions as working without them can only lead to problems and heavy fines. In fact, there are various houses built illegally during the past years which were demolished by order of the authorities.

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