Building a house in Turkey
The land upon which you wish to build the house must be in an area that has been zoned for the construction of residential property.
If its permitted use is something else, you will need to make an application to the local municipality for the permitted use to be changed.
In some simple cases, this application can be straightforward – for example, if you wish to convert a small former hotel that is no longer economically viable into a dwelling – but, in most cases, the land usage plan will have already been approved by the government of Turkey and so the municipality may not be able to make the change that you want. If this is so, then the whole process becomes lengthy and costly.
You must make an application to the municipality for provisional approval of your plans for the house.
What you intend to build must comply with the regulations in the area where you’re building it. These vary from one part of the country to another. Typically, there will be limits on the minimum plot size upon which a house can be constructed, limits upon how close the house can be constructed to the border of the plot, limits on how tall the property can be and limits upon the overall size of a property that can be built on any given size of plot: so-called construction density.
Obtaining this provisional consent is usually straightforward and will, in most places and in a straightforward case, often take no more than four weeks.
Once you have your provisional approval, you or your architect (and it’s almost always necessary to use an architect) will need to complete the design of the property and submit the ‘project’ to the municipality.
- The project is the full set of technical drawings and calculations used in the design of the house. It covers all aspects of the construction: walls, roofs, the water system, the electrical supply, the sewerage system and so on.
- The architect must be qualified and licensed in Turkey. If you want to use someone from your own country (for many reasons, this is not usually a good idea), your ‘home’ architect will need to engage a local Turkish architect to sign off and present the application.
There will often be some revisions negotiated in connection with the project submitted but, eventually, the project will either be approved or rejected.
- If it is approved, you will be given a building licence.
- This will be conditional upon you building exactly what was submitted in the project.
You must start work on the property no later than 24 months after the date the licence was granted.
- If you do not, the licence will lapse and you will have to start all over again.
- If you find any problems while constructing the house – for example, a geological fault that requires you to move one or more of the walls – you will need to apply for the project to be amended. In most cases this is simple if you have good reason for making the application and you stay within the overall size and other limits set out in the licence.
Whilst the property is under construction, you must have it inspected on a regular basis by a specialist building inspection company. These are licensed by the government. The purpose of these inspections is to make sure that everything has been built in accordance of the plans that were approved.
After the property has been built, you are required to notify the municipality so that they can inspect the property.
Once the municipality is satisfied that the property has been built in strict compliance with the licence and that it is ready for delivery, the municipality will issue a final habitation certificate for the property.
This is the document that authorises the building to be used as living accommodation. It is also needed in order for the electricity and water companies to connect to the property.
At each stage of your application to the municipality there are fees payable. They vary from municipality to municipality.
In addition, of course, you will have to pay the fee of any architects you involve in the process. They do not have a standard fee. In theory, there is a tariff of fees laid down by the College of Architects but, in practice, this is negotiable.
Altering a house in Turkey
In Turkey, the rules regarding development of (alterations to) your existing property are a little complicated but, in practice – particularly in rural areas – often ignored.
It is easiest to start by explaining what you can do without obtaining any form of permission. This is pretty limited. You may paint or decorate the inside of your property and, unless there are specific restrictions, you may also paint or decorate the outside of the property. Note, however, that there are restrictions in many places. The aim of these restrictions is, generally, to maintain the cohesion of an area and protect your neighbours from you painting your house a vibrant purple. For example, in Bodrum, you are not allowed to paint the outside of any house in pink. The rendering of any property must be either white or a natural sand colour.
In theory, anything else and, certainly, any extension to your property – however small the extension might be – is treated as development of that property and it requires permission from the municipality. This applies whether you want to add an extra bedroom or you want to build a pool or a terrace.
An application is made to the municipality. This is fairly simple in most cases but the municipality may require architects’ and/or engineers’ drawings to support and explain the application. A fee, of course, is payable.
If your property is within a condominium, you will also need a licence from the condominium if you intend to do any external work on your property. Generally, all external parts of a condominium do not belong to the individual owner of the apartment concerned but are owned, collectively, by all of the owners.