To understand the fees that a Spanish architect may charge it would be useful to understand the task of an architect in Spain although it is similar to that of an architect in the UK, there are some differences which are not normally known by the general public.
Spanish architects do include structural calculations as well as a full bill of quantities in their fees. While in the UK clients do normally pay additionally fees to the structural engineer and to quantity surveyor for these services.
However it is true to say that the Spanish architects do not get involved as greatly as an UK architects in the contractual building works facet.
Do ask your local architect how much of the bidding and contractual paper works will they carry out. There are architects who will do all the bidding and contractual paper works for their clients.
Here in Spain only fully qualified architects are allowed to design new buildings and to supervise the works. To be able to act as an architect they must be registered in the local College of Architects where you may obtain a complete list of local “bona fide” architects.
The actual building works must also be overseen by an Architectural assistant (Aparejador or Arquitecto técnico). They normally charge 30% of the architects’ fees and similarly to the architects they also have to be registered in the local College of Aparejadores.
In Spain there are two main building licences awarded by the local authorities to people who require doing a rehab job. Major building works and Minor building works. (Licencia de Obra Major and Licencia de Obra Menor). Any works that may alter façades, structure, installation services of any property or change the use thereof will require “A Major building works permit” and therefore the engagement of an architect. Minors building works can include re-tiling, painting, removing the odd internal partition, changing internal doors etc may be carried out with a “Minor Building Works license” and no architect or architectural assistants are required. However do not forget that any architect worth his salts will be capable of providing savings in the building works enough to pay for his fees, not mentioning the saving in your own time if you have to manage the works.
How much does an architect costs in Spain?
Well, there were a standard fee proposed by the Official College of Architects some years ago but these fees were forbidden by the government as they were considered against the free market so each architect would charge a fee, however the standard charges are around 10% to 13% of the official cost of the works (Precio Ejecución Material or PEM) which is not the same as the real costs, they tend to be lower than the real cost. The PEM are official prices that historically were supplied by the College of Architects and still used by some Local Authorities based on type of works, locality and size of the project. Overall they tend to be around 50 of the real costs which makes Spanish architects` fees substantially lower than those of the UK if you take into account that here the Spanish architects do include in their projects structural calculations, full bill of quantities and the lower construction price taken to calculate the overall fees.
Obviously you should obtain a free quotation from you local architect before any work starts and should compare with other professional.
A word of advice on low professional fees.
In this profession like in many others there are commendable professionals (especially those who have been in business for decades) and those who exist making a quick kills offering ridiculously low prices.
A standard price that you should consider as a ballpark figure should be about 5-7% of the proposed cost of the works and should be similar to what you would have paid back home, anything well below that should put you on guard.
Why should be so if there is a free market?
Well, the answer is simple. A professional must have professional insurance, must pay college fees for each project which is obligatory as every project presented to the local Town hall must carry the College of Architects stamp and approval before it is presented there.
The College of Architects assures apart from other things, that the project is of an acceptable standard and that the projects have all the main statutory parts included.
There are annual College fees, office and staff expenses paper copies of the project that have to be presented to in the Town Hall (each project has more than 500 pages normally over 1.000 pages)... Obviously extremely low fees are only possible if a poor service is provided to the client, who will only find out when the construction starts and then it will be too late to do anything about it.