The professionals involved and their responsibilities


Obviously it depends on the extent of work and/or on the type of renovation. For a renovation of an apartment, for example, an architect (arquitecto) that could take care of the entire project, from the construction to the interior, is not the same than an interior designer (interiorista) that focuses more of its work towards furnishing and decoration. From both end of the spectrum, an architect can supervise a project, sometimes required by law, and can also confer to the sensitivity and needs of the client.

New Construction (Obra nueva):

The participation of a professional architect (arquitectos superiors) in a new construction is required by the Spanish laws. Only qualified architects could be the authors of these projects and supervisors of the construction work.

These professional architects must have an accredited degree (titulo homologado) from Spain and that are members of the local Association of Architects (Colegio de Arquitectos) of their corresponding communities. This it is the organization that represents the architects and you can always find a listing of the associated architects through them. Legally the architects have as much the right of the intellectual property of the project as its civil responsibility.

It is also required by law a supervisor of the construction work; he or she must have a degree of a technical architect (arquitecto técnico). The Association of Technical Architects (Colegio de Arquitectos Técnicos) of each community is the organization that represents these technical architects, although often the architect can recommend a trusted technical architect in the area.

Restoration (Rehabilitación)

According to the Spanish law, only professional architects can perform modification in structures, façades and interior partitions. Hence, they are the only ones that could restore existing buildings.

The architects are the authors of the projects and supervisors of the work. In this case, depending of the size of the project, a technical architect may or may not be required.

Renovation (Reformas):

If it is a simple renovation in which the interior distribution of the house will not be modified, an architect can manage the work as much as a technical architect or an interior designer. Unlike professional architects or technical architects, interior designers are not required by law to have a specific degree to perform these services and they are not responsible of the works, nor are they group in any official organization. If, however, the interior distribution changes, the presence of an architect is then compulsory.

What are the fees and charges?

In any of these cases, the fees of the responsible technicians are unrestricted although usually they follow the standards established by their corresponding professional associations and are bound to the budget of the project. For these reasons the fees and charges listed below are only approximation.

Professional Architects (Aquitectos Superiores):

The fees (honorarios) of the architects are calculated based on the architect’s estimated construction fees. This estimate (presupuesto) is calculated according to certified standards, approved by the Association of Architects, based on project size, type, and location. Please keep in mind that this estimate is always significantly lower compare to the realistic costs of the project. The estimate is simply to serve as a basis for the calculation of the architectural fees, NOT the actual project cost. The architectural fees are derived from the percentage of this estimate and an agreement of the fees and fees schedule must be reach between the client and the architect before the work begins. Regardless of the final costs of the project, the architectural fees remain the same as contracted. Usually, the percentage is proportion to the size of the project, thus, larger projects have a lower percentage while the smaller scale projects have a higher percentage.

The percentages suggested by the Association of Architects are:

New Construction: 15.5% if the size of the project is less than 50m2, 12% if more than 200m2.
Restoration: 18.5% if the size of the project is less than 50m2, 16% if more than 200m2.
Renovation: 19% if the size of the project is less than 50m2, 16.5% if more than 200m2.

Technical Architects (Arquitecto Técnicos)

In residential project, the technical architect normally participates only in the supervision phase during the construction of the project. There fees are also based on the estimated construction fees. Typically they are about 30% of the architectural fees.

Interior Designers (Interioristas):

As mentioned earlier, there aren’t any official organizations that represent interior designers nor any set or standard fees or charges established.

What is their scope of services, and their obligations and responsibilities?

Professional Architects (Aquitectos Superiores):

As mentioned earlier, these are the authors and are responsible of the project. They are obligated to have a professional insurance (seguro professional) that covers certain mishaps or deficiency of the project.

Technical Architects (Arquitecto Técnicos)

They are responsible of the supervision during construction alongside with the professional architect. They are also obligated to have a professional insurance and have the civil responsibility of the construction of the work but not the project.

Interior Designers (Interioristas):

They do not have any legal responsibilities for the construction nor the project.

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