What is the process for obtaining building permits and planning permission?

In Israel, the process of issuing building permits is managed by the Local Planning and Building Committee – the planning institution of the local authority in whose area you wish to build. In small communities, a number of localities may be incorporated into a planning committee and this is the institution that manages the process.

The licensing procedure is considered exhausting, lengthy, and full of bureaucracy, and in recent years many efforts have been made by the government to streamline and shorten processes as much as possible. When it comes to high-rise buildings, the process may take years. In the case of private houses, the process should be shorter, but the permit applicant is still exposed to various delays and complications.

The following are the steps to be taken in the process of obtaining a building permit:

  1. Contact an application “preparer”, this can be an architect or engineer, who will accompany you throughout the licensing process. According to the law, only such professionals are authorized to submit applications to the local planning and building committees.
  2. After determining together what you intend to build, he or she turns to the local committee with a request to issue an “information file” – a document or file of documents containing all the planning information relevant to the area in which you intend to build such as existing plans, building rights and permits, required building lines, and in addition, a list of all the entities for which building permits must be obtained, such as the electric company, the fire services, and the forest officer.
  3. Now the preparer proceeds to the architectural design of the building and prepares the application for a permit. Upon completion of the work, he or she submits the application, on your behalf, accompanied by a variety of documents and approvals required as part of the information file. Filing is usually through the online system.
  4. Now begins a lengthy process, for the local authority to decide whether or not to approve the application. A decision not to approve should include reasons for the rejection. In such a case, the preparer of the application and the commissioner of the work must act to correct the failings of the application, and then resubmit the application for a permit. A decision to approve the application will usually include additional conditions that must be met before the actual building permit is issued.
  5. Finally, you will be required to pay building fees and a betterment levy (hetel hashbacha), and after fulfilling these tasks, you will receive a long-awaited building permit. At this stage, in order to receive approval to begin work, the preparer of the application must also submit a legal contract with a contractor who is hired to undertake the work and a construction inspector.

This guide is intended to provide the reader with general information and not to serve as legal or other professional advice. Readers are advised to obtain advice from qualified professionals before entering into any real estate transaction.

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