It is pretty common for a non-resident interested in real estate investment in Italy to fall for a property that requires renovation, reconstruction, or refurbishment. People can often find real estate listings available at fair prices, some of which may require a minor refurbishment or renovation. And, in some cases, the real estate unit requires reconstruction to suit the desires and needs of particular buyers.

It is essential to consider the implications of laws, permissions, and regulations regarding land before starting a renovation or reconstruction. One of the most primary concerns is Building permits. Along with the Building Permit, Permesso di Costruire in Italian - a document that authorizes construction and/or demolition according to the local municipality's development structure plan - the other two most often employed permits are the CILA and the SCIA. 

These permits cater to legal authorization for reconstruction work and are typically used for most "major" forms of structural modifications. For instance, one might require these certifying documents to restructure a building, construct a slope, close a portion of the property, or use the property for some other purposes. The reason why one needs these permits is that currently, under Italian and local urban planning law, significant types of restoration and reconstruction activities require official consent and approval to proceed. Indeed, obtaining a building permit is exclusively governed by local legislation (land usage and construction plans), and must be conducted following applicable national, local, and municipality policies and guidelines.

The Certified Notification for the Initiation of Activities (SCIA, abbreviated for "Segnalazione Certificata di Inizio Attività" in Italian), is a standard official permission granted by the municipal authorities in charge. Essentially, the certificate grants permission to remodel or restructure a building. The SCIA permit is for massive construction works, while the CILA is for moderate construction work.

The SCIA generally authorizes the following activities:

  •   Massive restoration work comprising the structural remodeling of the property.
  • Conservative construction of a building.
  • Refurbishing and maintenance work of a building, and changing of its structure subject to limitations.

The CILA, abbreviation for "Authorized Notification of the Initiation of the Activities," is implemented for moderate structural and renovation work.

Pursuant to article 10 of the Unique Building Standard (testo Unico dell'Edilizia) the types of construction work that require specific permits are those that imply: 

  1. The construction of new buildings.
  2. Restructuring that pertains to urban areas
  3. Renewals that imply new or different building spaces changing the size/dimension or in the case of building structures encompassed within cohesive locations (Zone A), imply modifications of the use of the property and/or layout and/or volume of units that come under the Cultural Heritage and Landscape Code, as referenced in Legislative Regulation No. 42 passed on 22 January 2004.  

Zone A refers, in general, to regions with significant historical, cultural, or ecological importance. The areas are referenced in city development documents.

As per article 14 of the Building Unique Code, the project development permit is granted specifically for communal structures and institutions or the general sector under the legislative decree of 29 October 1999, n. 490, and other sector-specific legislation impacting construction activities management. An application for exemption from specific building regulations is also permitted for building refurbishment initiatives, about a City Council’s settlement certifying the interests of the public. This certification is constrained to social settlement, urban development initiatives, urban recovery, urban containment, and land usage, subject to the rights of article 3 and concerning commercial settlements. 201, as amended by 22 December 2011 regulation, n. 214.


The Request for Construction Permit Document specifies the start and end dates of the construction initiatives. The construction work must start within a year of the request presented and must end within three years from the commencement of the work. Both deadlines are mandatory, and cannot be exceeded.

Permit requests are handled by the Municipality in charge and dealt with in the sequence in which they are received. The candidate submits a "Provision proposition" within two months of applying, and the Municipality official may ask that the associated paperwork be incorporated into the proposal or demand the plan be amended in the same timeframe. Any amendments must be performed within the next fifteen days; during that time frame, enacting the proposition for the amendments is postponed. After thirty days of issuance of the "Provision Proposition," the finalized and conclusive criterion is approved. The petitioner is also informed about the issuance.


About our services

Our team of expert builders, inspectors, and skilled tech professionals offers foreign clients full insight on standing Italian building codes and regional administrative and bureaucratic requirements, and ready advice and information as regards the most appropriate building permit application for each real estate unit, simplifying the process and assuring efficient operations throughout.

In detail, we assist and support our clients’ enterprises by:

  • Preparing "Provisional Proposition" for SCIA permits, in compliance with the regulations as specified by the qualified Municipality Department.
  • Communicating with regional Public Officials and organizing online meetings.
  • Analyzing prospective real estate advancements to determine whether they can be implemented in compliance with the Municipality legislation.
  • Creating a project tailored to each client’s particular requirements and providing quotes for prospective construction work.

 Drafting a purchase proposal, based on the acquisition of the licenses necessary to execute out the improvements required.

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