Building permit granted after 137 years

Imagine waiting over a century for a building permit.

That’s what contractors in Barcelona have been doing since the Antoni Gaudi-designed Sagrada Familia began construction in 1882.

The famously unfinished basilica, which is one of the most popular tourist sites in Spain, just received its first ever building permit after 137 years of waiting.

This official city permit allows the Sagrada Familia to finally be finished, which will eventually mean its signature cranes and scaffolding won’t be a fixture in the Barcelonian skyline.

Building permits can be difficult, no matter where you are in the world. They require accurate designs, engineering, and a strict application of local laws.

In a general build, permits are the responsibility of one’s design team but there are sometimes hiccups in the process. However, competent contractors generally know what will be permissible and “to code”, and what won’t pass before a plan is even submitted to the city council for approval. 

In Barcelona, this has been expensive for the Roman Catholic church. The Sagrada Familia will be paying €4.6 million (NZD $7.878 million) for its permit. This is in addition to the €36 million (NZD $61 million) it has already agreed to pay the city for 136 years of building without one.

The permit to be given lasts until 2026. This gives the church seven years to complete the project. Currently, it’s only 70 per cent complete with eight of the proposed 18 spires built.

If and when complete, the final spire – a 170 metre-tall central statement – will make Sagrada Familia the tallest church in the world.