Phases of an architectural project in Spain

architectural project

In this article we will summarize the phases that an architectural project must go through and the intermediate steps between each of them. As you can imagine, constructing a building, be it a large hotel or a modest house, requires a fairly lengthy process that includes, from the first sketches until the construction has been completed. These series of steps must be first completed in the phases of an architecture project.


Phases of an architectural project in Spain

Architectural Project step by step

The first time, the whole process can seem tedious due to the number of points that must be met before moving on to the next phase.


First contact.

Before starting any work, be it more or less ambitious, it is necessary to engage an architect who will be in charge of it. and you will be laying the foundations for the future project.

The selection of a good architect is fundamental for the success of the project.

It will be essential that you know his/her style and that it is in line with what you want to achieve. The second important point is that you can both communicate, meaning that you find it easy to  express your views and that you are both understand each others role in the process.


Preparing the brief.

Once you have engaged your architect you can express in black and white what you want in relation to the spaces of your building or home if you have clear your prerequisites. If not, an inexplicit description should be sufficient for your architect understand your need. I normally ask my clients to also send us pictures of the style that they are looking for and also of what they hate! In this case the say that a picture is worth thousand words it is very pertinent. 

Preliminary draft or conceptual design.

By this time, it is expected that the architect has visit the site and is familiar with its characteristics and surroundings.

The next step will be the presentation to the client of an initial layout, in which the client and the architect will work together on this outline and begin to work together.

Once the initial layout is accepted by the client then we tend to prepare a series of renders in 3D of the most important spaces inside and outside of the building together with a virtual video where the client can experience a virtual tour of the design.

At this phase, the architect should prepare an initial budget based on the conceptual project presented to the client which can be modified as the project progresses.

Presentation of the Project (Proyecto Básico) or Basic Project to the Local Authorities.

Once obtained green light from the client the architect should present the project the local authorities.

The project is called “Proyecto Básico” or Basic Project

In this phase of the project the following aspects need to be shown and explained:

• The foundation of the building.

• Its structural system.

• The shell of the building

• The different types of internal spaces.

• The finishes.

• Any equipment used in the building.

• Any special circumstances that will affect the design.

All data is broken down in precise chapters, explaining the chosen materials and their characteristics

There is also a section which deals with the town planning that will affect the site


CTE compliance.

Within the Basic Project a written report has to be added complying with the CTE (The Spanish Technical Building Code) which is the code that deals with the regulations relating to the technical aspects of construction. It establishes the minimum-security requirements, such as the DB SI (Fire requirements), and habitability.

DB SI, Safety in case of fire

The DB SI (Basic safety in case of fire), establishes the basic requirements that each material and the building must meet in case of fire.

It covers six points:

• SI 1 – Internal propagation

• SI 2 – External propagation

• SI 3 – Evacuation of occupants

• SI 4 – Fire protection installations

• SI 5 – Firefighter’s intervention

• SI 6 – Fire resistance of the structure


Phases of an architectural project in Spain


Together with the above written information the architect should prepare a set of plans which materializes the complete project.

The following set of plans should be a minimum that must be presented:


1- Situation

2- Location.

D-1. Ground floor layout.

D-2. First floor layout.

D-3. Cover plant layout.

C-1. Ground floor dimensions.

C-2. First floor dimensions.

C-3. Roofed spaces floor dimensions.

A-1. Elevations.

A-2. Sections 1.

A-3. Sections 2.

J-1. DB-SI (Compliance with the fire regulation) justification.

J-2. Justification of solar photovoltaic installation. Landscape protection section.

Gt-1. Land management.


A resume of the Bill of Quantities.

A document that gathers all the costs so far and those planned during the construction. It is one of the necessary documents required to apply for the building license.


Lodging the information in the Town Hall.

The building license usually takes between 3 and 6 months, and in some town halls even longer so it is advisable to submit all the necessary documentation as soon as possible, which includes the technical project as explained above, in addition proof of payment of the required taxes, a project of Health and safety, and a document that explains and quantify the building waste management expected in the building `process.

The cost of this license ranges between 4% and 6% of a minimum budget stipulated in the project which normally is about 50% of the real budget for the work, although this percentage may vary depending on the actual local authority.


Presentation of the Detailed Project (Proyecto Ejecución) to the local authorities.

Although it is not necessary to present The Detailed Project to obtain the building license however a full Detailed Project must also be lodged before the local authority issues the building license.


What is the detailed project and what information must contain?

In this phase, the project is developed in its entirety and all the necessary information for construction of the designed building is gathered, which includes construction systems, full description of the materials, etc.

This project must include the descriptive and constructive explanation and its annexes, as well as the site plans, structure, installations, construction details ..etc.

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