Do we really need to use an architect?

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This topic contains 10 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Anonymous Anonymous 10 years, 10 months ago.

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  • #51165
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Hi everyone,

    Just after some advice, we are buying what Mark would term a rural property in Asturias and have been told by our English surveyor (based in Spain) that we may need to use an architect in order to get planning/ building permission for change of use of an internal barn to living space.

    The barn is currently two floors and we wish to put in a better supported floor for the top room and add a window that was previously boarded up, and a doorway. Given this, it seems a bit OTT to use an architect (not to mention expensive). Can anyone advise us?

    The surveyor will check out the need for planning permission/ costs for us but any advice from renovators in general is very welcome, especially if you know any good builders in Asturias!

    Thanks
    Heather

  • #58497
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    I am not familiar with regulations specific to the Asturias, but certainly in Andalucia where I live the sort of works you are describing would require at least a Major Works Licence, if not full-blown planning consent. And for either of these you do need to have a submission made by an architect who is registered to the College of Architects in your province. As regulations vary from province to province (even town to town!) you would need to check with you Ayuntamiento for their specific requirements.

  • #58506
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Yes, you need an Architect, but not only for a legal question, but for safety of the persons that are going to execute the reform, and of the proper structure of the building. If an accident happened during the works and you had neither license nor insurance, you might have serious problems.

    An architect is not expensive, especially if he does well his work, and gives you solutions to make it better and cheaper.

    Good Luck
    Juan Bertomeu Vallés
    Real Estate& Planning Lawyer
    http://www.iurisconsulting.net

  • #58609
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Heather,

    According to the LOE, which is the law that regulates all building in Spain, you require a Project for:

    1. All new building, other than simple single storey non-residential or public use building.

    2. The refurbishment, extension or repair of any existing building that affects its size, volume, composition, structure or involves a change of use.

    3. Any works to listed buildings.

    The Project must be signed by an Architect if the use of the building is:

    A) Public, Residential, Religious, Educational, Cultural or a Hospital.

    The Project must be signed by an Architect or an Engineer if the use is:

    B) Transport, Energy Production, Hydraulic, Telecommunications, Industrial, Agricultural etc

    Projects for any other intended use (C) may be signed by an Architect, an Engineer or an Aparejador ( a technical architect whose functions combine those of a Quantity Surveyor and Clerk of Works).

    Minor Works are those that do do not affect the structure, appearance or use of the building: all other works are regarded as Major. Depending on the Local Council, Minor Works Licences are usually granted swiftly (by Spanish standards), and do not require an extensive Project. Major Works Licences require a full project, with Bills of Quantities and detailled drawings, and the use of an Archiect and Aparejador for the site supervision.

    Sorry it’s so long winded, but it is summary of a much longer document that runs to 16 pages….

    In your case, you would require a project as it affects the use and the structure of the building (2), and you need an Architect for that Project as its intended use is Residential (A).

    It may seem OTT coming from the UK, where Architects are regarded as an expensive luxury, but here it is a legal requirement. DIY, apart from hanging a few shelves or re-tiling a bathroom is definitely a no-no. As Juan Bertomue has pointed out, there are now very strict Health and Safety regulations governing building works in Spain, undertaking building works without a Project or corresponding Licence would mean that the Client would be liable for any accidents on site. That means a fine and/orJail if the accident was serious or fatal.

    As Juan Bertomeu has also kindly pointed out, if you get the right Architect, he or she may arrive at cheaper or more efficient solution. That is part of our training. We can give the Client what they want, but not necessarily what they expect.

  • #58614
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Thanks Shaun, your message cleared things up for me. I had wondered whether architects carried out a slightly different role in Spain to here!

    Our surveyor has said that we would need to use an architect to convert the barn area as we’d need a major works licence so we are going to concerntrate on the main house for a while as that “only” needs a minor works licence. Can you advise how long it usualy takes to get a major works licence, we have a very clear idea of what we want to do with the space. Our surveyor thought it could take upto 9 months to get permission as a worse case.

    Heather

  • #58615
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Heather,

    The granting of Major Works Licences depends on the local council. In my experience they are usually granted in 4 to 12 weeks, although in Madrid, for example, it can take up to 12 months. Having said that, some Councils will allow you to start work whilst the Licence is being considered when the works are to an existing building, although obviously anything you do will be at your own risk.

    The most important piece of paperwork is the “Asume de Dirección”, which means that the Architect has informed the Council that he or she will be supervising the works, and therefore taking legal responsability for them. The “Asume” is issued by the local Architects Institute to the Council, and make sure that you have a copy of it before anybody starts work.

    Shaun

  • #58821
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    You can start the works if the Town Council does not notify you any required information before 2 month since the date of your application. That is called a lincese or permit granted by positive silence, which, actually, is an express administrative act, that can not be removed by an ulterior decision of the town hall, except by a very specific and difficult administrative proceeding.

    After the term of two month (plus, if applicable, that of the extension as consequence of suspension of the term for deciding when the Town Council request for repair of rectifiable errors), without being notified the applicant of the decision, there is applicable the legal presumpion of positive administrative silence. This concept arises when a public administrative body fails to reply within the stipulated time limit to a complaint lodged against its procedure or a challenge to its decision; it is frequently used as the basis of an appeal through the judicial review procedure of the administration acts; in modern spanish administrative law, silence means, generally, consent, in the sense that the law stablishes the presumption that administrative silence is decisive in favor of the applicant. http://www.iurisconsulting.net

  • #60498
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    I am british registered architect and recently bought a property in southern catalunya. I have now met two english speaking architects, neither have managed to provide me with a clear explanation of what you have described below or have they provided me with a clear scope of works and a fee proposal. Both of these issues can result in a case of misconduct from the architects registration board.
    Can you please let me know where i can view the whole 16 pages of the document you refer to so i can become better advised.
    I would als be interested if you are prepared to take on work this far south
    regards

    simon

    @shaun wrote:

    Heather,

    According to the LOE, which is the law that regulates all building in Spain, you require a Project for:

    1. All new building, other than simple single storey non-residential or public use building.

    2. The refurbishment, extension or repair of any existing building that affects its size, volume, composition, structure or involves a change of use.

    3. Any works to listed buildings.

    The Project must be signed by an Architect if the use of the building is:

    A) Public, Residential, Religious, Educational, Cultural or a Hospital.

    The Project must be signed by an Architect or an Engineer if the use is:

    B) Transport, Energy Production, Hydraulic, Telecommunications, Industrial, Agricultural etc

    Projects for any other intended use (C) may be signed by an Architect, an Engineer or an Aparejador ( a technical architect whose functions combine those of a Quantity Surveyor and Clerk of Works).

    Minor Works are those that do do not affect the structure, appearance or use of the building: all other works are regarded as Major. Depending on the Local Council, Minor Works Licences are usually granted swiftly (by Spanish standards), and do not require an extensive Project. Major Works Licences require a full project, with Bills of Quantities and detailled drawings, and the use of an Archiect and Aparejador for the site supervision.

    Sorry it’s so long winded, but it is summary of a much longer document that runs to 16 pages….

    In your case, you would require a project as it affects the use and the structure of the building (2), and you need an Architect for that Project as its intended use is Residential (A).

    It may seem OTT coming from the UK, where Architects are regarded as an expensive luxury, but here it is a legal requirement. DIY, apart from hanging a few shelves or re-tiling a bathroom is definitely a no-no. As Juan Bertomue has pointed out, there are now very strict Health and Safety regulations governing building works in Spain, undertaking building works without a Project or corresponding Licence would mean that the Client would be liable for any accidents on site. That means a fine and/orJail if the accident was serious or fatal.

    As Juan Bertomeu has also kindly pointed out, if you get the right Architect, he or she may arrive at cheaper or more efficient solution. That is part of our training. We can give the Client what they want, but not necessarily what they expect.

  • #60517
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Simon,

    Architect’s services in Spain are regulated by the regional Architects Institutes, and in Catalunya, you can call the Catalan Architect’s Institute (COAC) Client’s Advisory Service on 900501382 and ask for Elisenda. She speaks English.

    It would probably be easier if you emailed me privately, as the document was prepared by us in english for our “foreign” (ie non-spanish) clients, and it is far too lengthy to post here.

    Shaun
    rosebud@coac.es

    @guest wrote:

    I am british registered architect and recently bought a property in southern catalunya. I have now met two english speaking architects, neither have managed to provide me with a clear explanation of what you have described below or have they provided me with a clear scope of works and a fee proposal. Both of these issues can result in a case of misconduct from the architects registration board.
    Can you please let me know where i can view the whole 16 pages of the document you refer to so i can become better advised.
    I would als be interested if you are prepared to take on work this far south
    regards

    simon

  • #60547
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Hi Shaun,

    Just for interest, my obras menor was indeed granted very quickly. It took exactly 30 minutes! It wasn´t called an obras menor rapido for nothing then!

    Heather

  • #60638
    Profile photo of Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Participant

    Heather

    I may tell you that the delay of a ‘mayor license’ would be related to the complexity of the works you plan to do in you house. As the authorities will only review if what you pretend to do observes local planning regulations (location, size, volume, height, distance to public roads, use, etc…) a repairing license would have a faster answer than a new building license. An architect used to work in Siero will give you an accurate answer to this. (Anyway, 9 months seems to me quite an excessive delay for Siero’s authorities nowadays)

    Remember that according to the Land Law of Asturias a ‘minor license’ only allows technically and economically simple works in ‘non-protected’, ‘non-catalogued’ or ‘non-historical’ buildings that won’t affect volume, use, common services or facilities, outside design, foundation, structure, security or safety appliances of the existing property (this is the reason they are given in such a short period of time). And that if you have to use public roads in order to place debris containers you should ask for an additional license usually paid in advance by the builder and later charged to you.

    As an extra advice I could tell you to ask your builder for a copy of his insurance policy and it maybe would be wise to have one of your own

    Cesar

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