Stages of architectural work in Spain

Villa design from idea to completion.

Let´s imagine you are looking at 3 different plots of land in Mazarrón, overlooking the valley, but you don´t know which one to choose. Stop, call us now!! We´ll help you make the right decision.

Once the site is chosen, we carry out a deep site analysis and a study of your programme. We look at where the views are, study the sun-path, learn the contours. Each design is unique. On a new build house, we discuss with you the bedrooms and bathrooms required, the size of the spaces, and we define a maximum square metre area for the house. It´s very important at this stage that you clearly transmit what your needs are, to avoid repeat work. It´s also good to know what your budget restricions are, there´s always an upper limit! At this stage, we would normally require a provision of funds, (usually 10% of the total fees), to fix the professional relationship and to proceed.

When your building programme is defined, we start with some initial ideas for the placement and orientation of the building with respect to the sun, the views and the prevailing winds. In many respects, the building form in our deigns is guided by the spanish climate, the play of light, the relationship between indoor and outdoor spaces and the control of energy consumption. We show you these initial options in three dimensions, using our Allplan software. This stage is the concept design.

Once we´ve defined the concept and received the client´s go-ahead, we continue on through various iterations of the design through to the developed design (Proyecto Básico). When this is done, it is sent to the Colegio for approval (called visado), which then allows us to submit the project to the Town Council for planning approval. One word of warning: depending on which Town Council, this can be an arduous process. Murcia Town Council is especially notorious for taking many months, and leaving projects in a sort of limbo. Some of the smaller Town Councils are much more efficient.

While the project awaits planning approval, we continue on with the detailed design. At this stage we define all the building details, the services such as heating, cooling and lighting, the structural calculations, energy efficiency, specifications, and the bill of quantities. The finished design has to comply with the very tough and detailed requirements of the Código Técnico, equivalent to UK Building Regulations. These documents form the contruction documentation (Proyecto de Ejecución), and can run to a volume of 1,500 pages, plus detailed drawings and the Bill of Quantities. It´s a huge amount of documentation. When ready, it is sent for the stamp at the Colegio, once stamped there it also has to go to the Town Council. Finally, these documents are used to obtain quotations from building contractors.

Our staff at Albasini & Berkhout will guide you through the process of comparing contractor´s prices, check what´s covered and what isn´t, to make sure that everything is clear from the outset. At this stage, it´s important to remember two things:

  • The cheapest price isn´t necessarily the best. There are many contractors who will omit large chunks of the work to be able to provide a low price at the outset, only to charge extras later. Unfortunately this is a very common practise. Our comparison of the contractors quotation will identify which is the most advantageous for the client.
  • At Albasini & Berkhout, we will represent you. We don´t have commercial relationships with any contracting firms, as we consider this to be unprofessional and incompatible.

Once the most convincing contractor has been chosen, a contract is signed, which lays out the responsibilities of each party. Electricity and water supply to the site have to be arranged, and these are paid for by the client. Once the Health and Safety project has been approved, work can start. Payments are usually monthly, and have to be certified and approved by the architect before payment.

During the works, decisions have to be made regarding construction details and efficient execution of the works. We are there during the construction stage to make sure everything goes smoothly, hand in hand with the aparejador.

Finally, when the contract is complete, the architect produces a Libro del Edificio that describes in detail what has been built, and the client moves into their dream home. The entire process can have taken two years or more.

Stage payments: example for newbuild

Workstage Description Percentage*
Concept Site analysis, programme, check planning, arrange site survey and soil survey. 10%
Basic project Design iterations, client approval, stamped for building license. 25%
Construction documentation Full detail design. Services. Structural calculations. Bill of quantities. 30%
Contractor selection Study of bids. Comparison. Advice. 5%
Structure Construction of the building frame. 15%
Practical completion Building servcies instalation, partitions, and finishes. 15%

*These are percentages of the total fees agreed at the start of the project. This is itself a percentage of the estimated building cost. Want to know more? Ask us now..