The Madness of Building in Turkey

We have a villa in Turkey where we have been living for up to six months a year for the past five years.  Its nothing grand but it does have three balconies, a sun terrace on the roof and our own swimming pool.  There are also three bedrooms, three bathrooms, kitchen, utility room and living room.  We love it, a proper house.

Or so we thought until a meeting with our lawyer on Thursday morning to discuss a routine matter about obtaining the official habitation certificate known in Turkish as the Iskan.  This document is issued by the local municipality (the Belediye).  It officially recognises that the house is built to plan and conforms to all national and local regulations.  Imagine our dismay to be told by the lawyer that the original building licence (Yapi Ruhsati) is only valid for 5 years and that ours expired in 2008.  And what does this mean in the eyes of officialdom, OUR VILLA DOES NOT EXIST.  There is a plot of land to which we hold legitimate title but the bricks and mortar that go to make our lovely villa are purely illusory.  It may cast a shadow in the sun but, trust me, it really is not there, the Belediye says so.

Having recovered from these revelations, we ask if there is any way that we can recover the situation.  The answer is yes, which is a good start.  The lawyer explains the process she can go through, on our behalf, to make everything legal and above board.  She explains that there will be costs involved but that they are all laid down by statute.  It’s during this discussion that an element of farce creeps into the proceedings.

Because the villa does not officially exist we have to go through the motions of building it.  This begins to sound like something from a Monty Python sketch.  It seems that we will have to employ an accountant – the role sounds more like that of a quantity surveyor – to estimate the cost to ‘build’ the villa and the amount of man effort that will be needed to carry out the ‘building’.  Then, the piece de resistance, we have to pay workers insurance for each of the notional workmen for the duration of their notional time spent working on the building.  And of course this is real money not notional money.

The only relief is that whilst we are paying the workers insurance we don’t have to pay them any wages.  Wow, we’ve got off lightly there we think.

And one more thing, we need to get all the paper work set up as though the project was about to begin from scratch and get all the necessary approvals from architects, engineers, electricians, etc.  When that is done the Belediye will approve the building and construction plan.  Then we have to pause the process for the notional time that it will take our imaginary workers to construct the already constructed villa.  This could be three months when nothing, and I mean nothing, will happen.

At the end of the three months the Belediye will inspect our ‘new’ villa, agree that it exists and is built to the original plans and will issue the Iskan.  Wonder of wonders.  And, of course, throughout the last five years we have been paying Council Tax on the non-existent villa.  Will we find a cheque for over-payment attached to the Iskan?  We’re not holding our breaths.

The joys of building in Turkey!!


About Clashgour

With my wife Margaret I am spending a happy retirement based in Richmond, London. When travelling we use public transport where possible, resorting to a car when it is the only viable option. This blog is an occasional diary of our travels in North America, Europe and Turkey plus other places as yet unknown.
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2 Responses to The Madness of Building in Turkey

  1. Sheila Gibbs says:

    Hi Alain, We are not far from you in London, we live in Putney.

    Have been looking at your blog, via KTLN, and really enjoyed it. Have to say slightly alarmed at talk of an Iskan. Was your place a new build when you bought it? I have been trying to find out something on Iskans on Google and it looks as if maybe a builder should provide them on new buildings within five years. Our place had already been built and lived in for some years by a Turkish family when we bought, in a part of Kalkan that was then almost all Turkish residents.
    We had a swimming pool added, air con etc as we let the house most of the summer (work does not permit us to be there as often as we would wish). We did everything through a Turkish lawyer and obtained our Tapu, pay council tax etc etc but never remember anyone mentioning an Iska.

    Would love to hear from you re Iskas and also interested to know where you are in Kalkan. I will give our villa’s website below and you can see where we are on Kalkan on the Google map.

    Best wishes,


    • alan laird says:

      Hi Sheila,

      Thanks for reading the blog and glad you enjoyed it. I add new articles on an ad hoc basis. If you would like to sign up you’ll get a prompt when a new article is published.

      If you would like to email me at I’ll happily give you a bit more detail.

      Look forward to hearing from you.


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