[Take Two] Changing plans after permissions granted

brancusi Image
05/07/2012 - 18:09

Apologies if this has now been posted twice - I did post it but couldn't find it anywhere - so this is take two!We're getting close to finalising our house design in the Fermo region and I'm wondering what sort of changes can be made to the design once permissions have been granted - and at what cost.I'm pretty sure the footprint won't change - but for example, could we move the position of some windows, swap a window for a french door, change the internal layout etc once the comune have granted permission to build?If we could make changes - I'd be surprised if it was free - does anyone have an idea how much variations are likely to cost?I'm a bit sceptical of the italians locally who keep saying no problem no problem ... as in my experience there is usually a cost attached somewhere along the line!Grateful for any tipsBrancusi


You should be guided by your geometra. Basically, when you get a permission in Italy it is 'in principle', and unless you are located in a 'centro storico', or in an area 'vincolata' (like an AONB) then pretty much anything can be considered a 'variazione', and does not have financial consequences. Here I'm talking about things like moving windows, changing them into doors etc etc - the final volume which you are constructing is cast in stone, and generally it isn't sensible to try and mess with the footprint - but otherwise you are pretty free to make changes along the line. That's the legislative framework. However, from the constructional/architectural pont of view any changes of mind which you might have could be somewhat costly - simply on the common sense level - if the builder has constructed a wall which you later want to move - well, you are going to pay twice. What is the problem about making a 'final' decision? Why are you considering ahead of time that you might have got it wrong? What's the rush! Get your thoughts sorted out - take your time - what's the hurry?

In my experience it's not so free and easy.  A concessione edilizia is granted for a specific property, ie with windows here and doors there.  Any change to that concessione requires a variante which costs money.  Footprints shouldnt be tampered with, that can require a whole new concession.  You can change your windows from Venetian gothic to Arts and CRafts and pay the comune for the prvilege.  You might be able to open up a window to make a door - but thats not a given - it depends whats on the other side - usually this just 'happens' after the collaudo.  The fewer changes you make the easier it is, so try and get your original concessions about as spot on as possible.  The comune may overlook tiny changes, but most things require a variante and the oneri that that brings.  They will vary from comune to comune, and province to province. 

Likewise here it's the same as Ram - every variation comes at a cost and involves a wait of who knows how long - and the possiblilty of a NO.  If you have any question marks about what you want the final plans to look like, then I would wait and keep redoing them before you submit them to your commune.  We've just submitted our plans to the commune 5 months after we signed for our house - with several variations going backwardsa and forwards on email to our architect.  It may well be when it comes to the build we change our mind about something but we're hoping not!!

Brancusi Just from personal experience. We are in the equivalent of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and our geometra/architect has been very insistent that nothing can be changed once plans are finalised. We also found that there were stringent restrictions on what we could have, because our property was originally a castagna (i.e. not a dwelling house). So, no external shutters, no small balcony etc.. I think your geometra should guide you on this and, as the others say, try to get what you want before you start. Best of luck Fabbriche

Thanks for confirming what I suspected - ie that we should indeed be getting the plans absolutely right BEFORE we submit them to the comune, rather than assuming that things can be easily changed later on. It's not that we want to change anything, it's just we tend to be a revision ahead of the architect - so what happens is we draw up some plans, the architect then re-draws them to the local building code, we see that and then take a different design route, send it back to the architect for reworking - and so it goes on. At some point we actually need to get the permissions and start the project and this is what led to my query. I've done some commercial projects (UK) in the past where it has been vital to get the spec right before anyone starts on site as otherwise costs and timescales escalate out of control, and I wasn't expecting it to be any different in Italy to be honest - which is why I was a bit surprised by the Architects rather laid back view of the plans. I feel somewhat vindicated now! Thanks again B.

The best way to get minor changes OK'd is to have a friend in the Mayor, you will be surprised how quickly and easily things get done when you are on good terms with the Mayor.

In reply to by Pat H

Now, taking account of my caveats about vincoli, and suggesting you follow your geometra/architect's advice, I still maintain (working with most geometras of my acquaintance) that in a non-speciallly controlled situation you get a permission, then when you do the final re-accatastamento you incorporate all the variations in one go - which doesn't involve any 'extra' costs. I'm assuming your project is a complete new build, if not there are restrictions (within which I would expect your architect is working). Of course, if the comune is fussy (or obliged by the belli arti to be fussy) about your project, then it is marginally dangerous, since something which you have built could be deemed unacceptable; but your director of works should be able to judge how likely any minor changes would be to hit a snag of this nature. Sweet talking the mayor is not necessary - unless you are trying to do something well outside the 'local plan' (and I doubt that you are pushing the envelope in this respect). If it's a matter of where you put the kitchen sink, or whether the bathroom is in this space or the next space, and taking into account the often protracted timescale of getting any permission - if you are happy with the footprint, and the construction method, just do it - or it may never happen...

Thats dangerous talk Fillide! - down here if you dont do a variante to have your window 10 cm to the left, they wont do the collaudo on the building.  Each thing needs to be submitted in a variante, and theres no way you can wait till the final accatastamento.  And this is on dead normal non vincolato land.  Anything that is visible from the outside - terraces, windows, doors, shutters, tiles, etc and anything structural on the inside - walls, stairs, arches, will need a variante if they are in diformita to the original approved project.   No variante, no collaudo, no reaccatastamento.  They're getting really tough these days.  The days  when you put in a project for a chicken shed and got a 4 bed villa are no more!  I have clients who needed a variante to change - slightly - the shape ofthe window surround in a bog standard new build.  And this is SIcily!  Best to do things by the book IMO, and ignore the mayor - he is not the dept Urbanistica, nor the provincia nor the BC - what is veryimportant to remember now is that a notaio cannot stipulate a sale unless everything is in order - concessione, collaudo, accatastamento, stato di fatto, planimetrie ecc ecc - if there's something awry, no sale and a big bill to sort it.   

In reply to by Ram

I'm not suggesting that you go in for a permission for a chicken shed, and turn it into an apartment block! I agree, that if things have changed (relatively minimally) then you have to go in for ONE variante, when the house is finished, which covers all the mind changes which have occurred along the way. You then get it visited by the comune, signed off as all corect, tidy up the catastal stuff and you are entirely in the clear. It seems to me that this is the sort of scenario the original poster is asking about, and it doesn't seem unreasonable to me that his architect is being relatively laid back about details. I have said from the outset that he should be guided by his professional - and given that the volume, footprint and structural design is not changed from the original permission then I don't think panic stations are called for!

Yes be very very careful, if the house is not identical to the planning permission at the time you come to sell it (this includes windows not being in the right place), you could have serious problems in sellling, or even if an Italian buyer is willing to turn a blind eye the value will be knocked down. Charlotte

Having bought and done extensive renovation to our property in Fermo province I would say that even 6 years ago there were firm controls on what could or could not be done. Windows could not be changed into French doors for instance and the size and shape of the widows only allowed for a small variation.Plus the commune kept a friendly but watching brief on the project. We were guided by our geometra....the architect other than to sign off work was little in evidence. I would say decide on what you want to do bearing in mind the restrictions and get started!