Choosing an architect

Selecting an architect or turn-key provider who shares your vision and in whom you trust is key to a successful, and stress-free, build.

For most people who decide to build a property in Spain, the one person you will have most contact with during the construction is the architect. He or she not only looks after the design, but, in most cases, is also responsible for overseeing the build and directing the work of the other professionals involved.

Architect (arquitecto)

Spanish law requires that a qualified, registered architect signs off on the plans for any new build, to ensure all relevant regulations are complied with, and oversees the build, including managing your chosen builder. The architect is responsible for the design of the basic plan (proyecto básico) and the installation and structural plan (proyecto de ejecución) of the property and is legally liable for both.

You should always confirm your architect holds an accredited qualification (título homologado) to practice in Spain, is a member of the Architects Association in your local province, and is paid up to date with his or her membership and insurance obligations.

We recommend you meet with at least two different architects to get a feel for who they are and if your vision is compatible. We can assist you with this process and provide you with a list of local architects, depending on your design preference and budget. In addition, we work with turn-key service providers – comprising architects, technical architects, builders, project managers, and interior designers – who offer turn-key services (see below).

Fees

Architect fees in Spain are unrestricted and calculated on the basis of the estimated building cost (presupuesto). This is, in turn, calculated in line with recommendations from the Architects Association, depending on the type, size, and location of the build. It is almost always lower than the actual build cost and serves only to calculate fees as a percentage of the total. Even if the actual build cost is higher, the fee will remain the same.

In general terms, an architect earns 7-10% of the estimate of building cost, but you may be able to negotiate a lower percentage. Payment is generally made in stages (design, basic plan, installation plan, build supervision, and completion), with percentages open to negotiation.

Technical architect (arquitecto técnico / aparejador)

Spanish law also requires that a qualified, registered technical architect supervises the build and ensures safety regulations are observed. Some architects, who hold both qualifications, can provide this service, but many work with a preferred colleague who they may recommend for the job. You are free to choose your own, but tried-and-tested teams tend to work well. Again, you should confirm he or she is a member of the provincial Technical Architects Association and is paid up to date with dues and insurance.

Fees

Technical architect fees are also unrestricted and, likewise, based on the estimated building cost, but should be in line with local Association guidelines. Generally, a technical architect earns around 30% of the architect’s fee, but you may be able to negotiate a lower amount, and payment is often also made in stages as the project progresses.

Turn-key service providers

Multidisciplinary building companies that provide full-service options, from design to delivery of a finished build, are becoming increasingly popular among clients who do not have the time to deal with the hassle of a complex construction project. Such companies sit down with clients to determine the design and finishings of a project, provide a fixed price for all the work required, and are solely responsible for delivering the building on budget and on time. They also offer the advantage that, if problems should arise, the client only needs to take a single defendant to court. Terra Meridiana have undertaken several projects with fixed cost turn key providers, if this is of interest please contact us.