What is the change of intended use and when it can be done

Very often we hear about the change of intended use of a property, a very common procedure but which is not always possible. In this article we will give you some basics, about what it is, what its limits are and when it just can’t be done. But let’s go step by step!

Intended use

The first important thing is to understand what the intended use is: for the Italian legal system it is the function recognized to a single real estate unit (or to an entire building). Put simply, it represents the main purpose of the property. A house? A professional studio? A store? A laboratory? A warehouse? A set of things?

So let’s assume that you are interested in buying a property, but not for its original purpose. For example, you would like to buy a garage to turn it into a studio, or an office to be used as a home. These operations are generally possible, just change the intended use! But there are several laws and regulations to be respected: therefore, it is necessary to understand how to proceed in order not to risk anything from a legal point of view.

The intended uses are many, but they all fall into six different categories

  • Residential: private homes, landlords and professional offices
  • Industrial and artisanal: such as laboratories, industries, warehouses, workshops and all activities for the transformation of goods and services
  • Commercial: shops, markets, bars, restaurants, pubs and similar services
  • Tourist accommodation: hotels, campsites and hostels
  • Management or service: banks, insurance companies, offices and professional firms
  • Agricultural: nurseries, woods, rural homes and farmhouses

Therefore, if for example you have purchased a laboratory to be used as a professional studio, a change of intended use will have to be made.

Is it always possible to change the intended use?

Unfortunately the answer to this question is no. It is not always possible to change the intended use, on the other hand it would be easy to buy a garage (at the market prices of the garages) and transform it into an apartment.

In addition to the rules guided by common sense, there are some laws that regulate the change of intended use. For example, when a property is in a condominium, the first thing to do is to consult the condominium regulations, to verify that there are no limits to the creation of new housing units.

There are also some parameters to be respected, first of all the sizes: to change the intended use of a building in a residential building, the single rooms must have a width of at least 9 square meters, the double rooms at least 14 square meters, and bathrooms of at least 3.5 square meters. The aero-illuminating ratios, that is the proportion between the size of the windows and the surface of the floor, will then have to be preserved.

The solution is always to refer to the town plan of the municipality in which the property is located, as these parameters always vary. Then go to a qualified technician or download the PRG (general plan) and the town planning regulations, and study it in detail.

Change of intended use: documents, times and costs

The last paragraph of this guide is about the most important information: what documents do you need? How long does it take? How much will the whole practice cost?

Let’s start with the documentation: thanks to the entry into force of the Simplification Decree 2020, for the passages within the category, the CILA is sufficient, to be presented to the technical office of the municipality. If, on the other hand, it is necessary to change the category of the property, for example from warehouse to residential building, the building permit is still required, as the intervention is configured as a building renovation.

In terms of costs, there are three main items of expenditure
1- Building interventions to ensure that the property is suitable for the new category (bringing the systems up to standard, construction of bathrooms, adjustments to doors and windows, etc.)
2- Technical expenses and fees of professionals
3- Urbanization costs and secretarial expenses, which vary from municipality to municipality

And how long does it take to complete the change of use? Allow a couple of months for the preliminary operations, which will be carried out by a professional technician, to verify the feasibility of the intervention and evaluate the urban regularity. Then obviously there will be the timing of the actual works to be considered, which depend on the type of works needed.

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