Getting the job done

Building a house in Spain
Building a house in Spain

To get the job done, roles, responsibilities, budgets and payment terms need to be clear.

So the first question to answer is ‘who is responsible for the execution of building work?’

According to the law in Spain, the professionals in charge of the work (la obra) are the architect (arquitecto superior) and the technical architect (arquitecto técnico), if there is one. They are also responsible for the security measures required during the construction, in other words, it is part of their duties to apply any relevant regulations in the safety and security of the environment of the construction.

Building budgets and relations with the contractor

Once the architect has been selected and the project has been defined, you are advised to get several cost estimates from various contractors for price comparison. The architect should advise the client in this regard, but the final decision should come from the client . Once the contractor has been chosen and the appropriate permits have been obtained, the construction can begin.

The architect should visit the construction site periodically, especially when there are doubts or problems occur. The client is free to visit and observe the construction as often as desired, but the architect is the one who deals with the contractor and whom the instructions should be taken from. The client should always deal through the architect.

The structure of payments


The architects are paid in completion of each phase of the design and construction. Depending on the complexity of the project, the process can be categorized with the suggested percentage of payment as follow:

1. Schematic Design (Anteproyecto) 10%
2. Design and Development (Proyecto Básico)30%
3. Construction Documents (Proyecto Ejecutivo)30%
4. Construction (Obras)15%
5. Completion (Finalización de Obras)15%

These percentages are negotiable, and should be agreed upon by the client and the architect before starting the project.


The contractor charges via monthly certifications, in other words, every month the contractor issues a certificate in which he presents and assesses all the work that has been carried out during that period, also stating the payment deadline. Before payment is made, however, the architect should review this certification and give his consent to the client.

Insurance (Seguros) and the Office of Technical Control (OCT – Oficina Control Técnico)

During construction of the project, the client is obligated to ensure that the contractor has an effective insurance to cover faults to third parties or work damages. In addition, the client should request that the contractor stipulates that all the construction workers are registered under social security (seguridad social) and if this is not the case the project should be put on hold until everyone is covered. All the technicians and architects who take part in the work are required to have a professional insurance. Once the project is finished, it is highly recommended (and obligatory for the solicitation of a mortgage) to contract a home insurance.

In the case of a housing complex, the Spanish law requires that the client to contract a 10-year insurance for each housing unit. This insurance covers any fault or defect in the construction for ten years. To obtain this insurance the project must be approved by the Office of Technical Control (OCT) during the construction as well as the completion of it.

In the case that the client is the promoter and as well the occupant of the building, this last step is not necessary but in the case that he wants to sell this house within a ten years term, the future buyer could request that the seller cover the cost for this insurance. The approximated cost of this insurance is 1% of the referential estimate.

Habitan Architects.