Rural building: is it possible to convert it into a home?


Emma Potter

The transformation of rural buildings into homes is a growing trend, fueled by the desire to live in less congested environments and closer to nature. These buildings, which were once the heart of agricultural activities, today offer a unique opportunity for those looking for a home in quieter and greener contexts.

However, converting a rural building into a home is not always simple, due to regulatory and bureaucratic complexities.

This article will explore the challenges and possibilities related to this conversion process, providing clear guidance on how to navigate the rules and opportunities of this transformation.

Definition of rural building

A rural building is a type of property closely linked to the agricultural context and country life. Its main characteristic lies in its function: a rural building is in fact intended for carrying out agricultural activities, serving as a direct support for agriculture. This can include a variety of structures such as farmhouses, stables, crop storage warehouses, greenhouses, and tool sheds.

It is important to underline that the classification of a building as rural does not depend on its cadastral registration or the qualification of the owner, but on its actual intended use in the context of agricultural activities.

To be defined as such, a building must comply with specific requirementssuch as being used as a home for those directly involved in agricultural activities (owners, tenants of the land, family members or pensioners of agricultural companies) and being assigned to agricultural lands of a pre-established minimum size:

  • 10,000 square meters,
  • 3,000 square meters if mountain land

Furthermore, to maintain the qualification of rurality, a property must not be registered in the Land Registry in the typical categories of luxury urban homes (categories A/1 or A/8).

The transition from a rural building to residential use

The process of transforming a rural building into a residence involves several crucial steps, first of all the verification of the original intended use and the adaptation to often complex and varied regulations. It is essential, first, to determine the current intended use of the buildingwhich can be indicated in the last concession provision, in the current intended use, in the last known destination for abandoned buildings, or in that resulting from the Land Registry.

If the building has already been intended for residential use, a verification of conformity between what was planned and what was built is necessary. For rural buildings authorized before 1 September 1967, the change of intended use requires particular attention.

In fact, national legislation clearly distinguishes rural use from residential use, implying that any variation, where permitted by local planning regulations, may entail the payment of urbanization charges, the amount of which varies depending on the increase in urban planning burden deriving from the edit.

Regional regulations play a fundamental role in this process, establishing which changes require a building permit and which can simply be reported via a Certified Commencement Report (SCIA).


The transformation of a rural building into a residential building is a complex process that requires careful navigation between national regulations and the peculiarities of local regulations.

Despite the bureaucratic difficulties and economic burdens that may emerge, the process offers the opportunity to enhance real estate assets located in unique contexts, contributing to the redevelopment of the territory and the conservation of rural heritage. The approach to this transformation must be informed and aware, with the consultation of experts and professionals in the sector who can guide owners through the necessary steps, from verification of the original intended use to compliance with current regulations.