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Renovating a property in Italy – A short step by step guide

If you intend renovating a property in Italy, make sure all the work meets legal requirements. Otherwise you run the risk of criminal prosecution.

Renovating a property in Italy

Renovating a property is a complex process requiring a wide range of competencies. Obtaining legal assistance will make the entire renovation process easier and crucially, ensure that all legal requirements are met in a timely manner. Legal support can save you money and mitigate risk of criminal liabilities and prosecution.

Before you buy a renovation project in Italy, it is vital to do some in-depth research about the property. This legal due diligence step verifies, amongst other things, the compliance status with municipal-planning and land registry documentation.  At De Tullio Law Firm, we offer surveying services to assess the legal situation before you purchase a property or before you start renovation work:

  • Checking that the current (de facto) condition and the official (de jure) condition of the property match all the documentation lodged with the cadastre. Are the planning and building permits lodged with the Municipal Technical Office?
  • Ascertaining from municipal records that the entire property, including any additions and outbuildings, has all the relevant planning consents.

If not, you will not be able to obtain authorization to commence renovation works. Renovating a property that you own, will require that you apply for the relevant permits issued by the local municipality.

Once you are sure that the property meets legal requirements and structural specifications and if you have decided to proceed with the purchase, having a legal professional on your side will be helpful in getting the best deal on the property purchase and managing the whole renovation procedure.

Choose an Italian property lawyer with expertise in building law and regulations who will be able to navigate you safely through all the steps involved in a buy to renovate project. Bear in mind that if down the line, you undertake any work that is not legally compliant, you run the risk of prosecution, which in Italy can be a protracted, costly affair and will obviously require legal services. In the long run, it may be more cost effective to budget in legal services from the outset of your project.

Steps involved in the renovation project:

  1. Once you own the property, technical experts – a surveyor and/or an architect – assess its de facto condition and design the renovation work. Plans must be drawn up in accordance with the provisions of current legislation, with particular regard to energy efficiency and sanitation regulations. Zoning and planning must also be considered. A complete list of materials and finishes is also required in the design phase, so that a suitable tender specification list can be drawn up.
  2. Subsequently, we move on to choosing the best building company which will carry out the work. It is advisable to avoid nominating a building company related to the project manager. In this way, any conflict of interest is averted. This procedure involves submitting the executive project – drawn up by a surveyor or architect – and the above-mentioned specification list of the works to at least three companies. In this way you have a comparison to help choose the most competitive and suitable offer. Usually for refurbishment there are three types of companies involved (construction, electrician, plumber), and for simple management of the works, it is advisable to contract the work to only one company, in order to have a single point of reference on site. It is vital to check that the building company conforms with Italian fiscal requirements, in particular through the DURC (Documento Unico di Regolarità Contributiva), a document proving that the company makes social security contributions on behalf of its employees.
  3. The next key step is drawing up a detailed contract between you and the building company. This is an area that requires a thorough understanding of the law as the contract will guarantee you legal protection during and following completion of your building work. This document is of paramount importance, especially if you need to seek legal recourse at some point. You should ensure that your contract is a legally binding document, stating the building company’s duties.
  4. At this point, you will need to officially declare the property owner, project manager and building company and apply for the related Building Permit. These applications must be submitted to the Municipal Technical Office and once you received the related authorization, building work can commence.
  5. A Safety and Coordination Plan (Piano di Sicurezza e Coordinamento) must be drawn up pursuant to Legislative decree 81/08, and a Safety Coordinator (Coordinatore della Sicurezza in fase di Esecuzione) must be appointed to supervise the building procedure. The building company must comply with the terms specified in this document as well as draft its own Operational Safety Plan (Piano Operativo di Sicurezza, POS). All waste produced on the construction site must be properly managed and treated in compliance with local disposal laws.
  6. Once the works have been completed, the works must be assessed and inspected. Once approved and work is deemed as complete the cadastral value of the property must be updated in the land registry and subsequently you can apply for a certificate of habitability.

Finally, it is advisable to check the possibility of obtaining tax deductions and/or funding, which even if you have already started renovation work, periodically become available.

If you are considering a buy-to-renovate project in Italy or if you are experiencing problems with a renovation project in Italy and would like support or further information our legal professionals can help. We can make your renovation project easier by guiding, advising and protecting you through the entire procedure. Reach us at