What is CTE? Technical building Code


Despite being one of the most rigorous regulatory frameworks in the architectural and construction sector, there are still people who wonder what is CTE.

In theory, the Technical Building Code (CTE) includes the basic requirements that Spanish buildings must meet, in accordance with the provisions of the Building Planning Law (LOE).

It has been in force since 2006 and is mandatory in newly built buildings in Spanish territory.

It is also important to highlight that all constructions that have a residential or public character must comply with the CTE regulations (regardless of their level of simplicity).

In this article we will tell you what CTE is. In addition, you will know a little more about its history, structure, contents, and of course, we will address its scope of application.


If you're wondering what it is CTE, The first thing you should know is that these acronyms refer to the Technical Building Code.

This document corresponds to the second final provision of the LOE. Together, they give life to the regulatory framework responsible for regulating buildings in Spain.

The CTE establishes the basic requirements for habitability and safety of buildings, according to the definitions contemplated in the LOE.

The importance of Technical building Code Is superior. This is because its demands have implications in the following phases:

  • Project.
  • Construction.
  • Maintenance.
  • Conservation.

The CTE contemplates the requirements that buildings must meet, in relation to the following aspects:

  1. Structural safety.
  2. Security in case of fire.
  3. Safety of use.
  4. Hygiene, health and environmental protection.
  5. Energy saving and thermical isolation.
  6. Protection against noise.


In the 1950s, the technical standards that regulated the building sector in Spain were the responsibility of the Ministry of Housing.

At that time, this regulation was developed by the General Directorate of Architecture of the Ministry of the Interior (whose creation dated back to 1937).

Over time, these rules became the Basic Building Standards, also known as “NBE”.

This specifically happened in 1977; just when the Government decided to unify all regulations related to buildings.

These rules were mandatory. Therefore, all agents in the sector had to accept them without reproach.

In parallel, the Building Technology Standards (NTE) were added to the NBE, with the exception that they were not mandatory.

Later, in 1999, Law 38/1999 on Building Planning was published and for many, the purpose of this legislation was well-known and evident.

It sought to regulate the building sector, after updating and completing the legal configuration of the agents involved in said field.

The LOE sought to establish responsibilities, obligations and guarantees towards users; starting from the definition of the basic requirements that the buildings had to satisfy.

Royal Decree 314/2006

In summary, the Technical Building Code was approved by the Royal Decree 314/2006.

Although it was subject to several subsequent modifications, it still managed to capture the demands of the LOE and translate its aspirations into technical language.

At this point, it should be noted that one of the main updates of the CTE, with respect to the previous law that regulated buildings in Spain, is that it adopted a 100% benefit approach.

In simpler words, the CTE states the basic criteria that buildings must meet, but does not specify the way in which these rules must be met.

This detail has significantly favored many research, development and innovation tasks.

Additionally, it has facilitated the use of new technologies in the construction sector. Without a doubt, the CTE's performance approach has allowed technical innovations to be used, without underestimating the traditional elements of the construction method.



Now that you know what CTE is, it is time to delve into its structure and content. That way, you could better understand its usefulness and relevance in the construction field.

This document is divided into two large segments and below you will learn about them in detail:

This segment covers the basic requirements linked to the structural safety of buildings in the event of fire.

But it also takes care of aspects related to use and accessibility, energy savings, protection against noise and health.

They are regulatory texts that transfer to the practical field the basic requirements detailed in the first segment of the CTE.

Each document addresses the quantification and characterization of these requirements, and establishes a list of procedures that allow proof of compliance.

However, it should be noted that the construction manager can also rely on alternative solutions (under his own responsibility).

But, in that case, the building must comply with the basic requirements of the CTE and this must be documented.

Are you wondering what are the basic documents included in this code? If so, we invite you to pay attention to the following section:

DB SE: Structural safety.

DB SE-C: Foundations. These are subdivided into:

  • DB SE-A: Steel.
  • DB SE-F: Factory.
  • DB SE-M: Wood.

DB YES: Security in case of fire.

DB SUA: Safety of use and accessibility.

DB HE: Energy savings.

DB HR: Protection against noise.

DBHS: Healthiness.

Supporting documents (complementary)

On the other hand, there are some complementary documents that allow you to understand and apply the basic CTE documents more effectively.

They are characterized by being official, but not regulatory. They are easily identifiable as:

  • Supporting Documents (DA).
  • Basic Documents with comments.
  • Recognized Documents (DR).

The latter are of a technical nature and are of voluntary application. In addition, they are registered in the General Registry of the CTE and have been recognized by the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda.


In this section, it must be highlighted that it is not enough to know what CTE is. (It is also necessary to know its obligation).

All Basic Documents have a “Scope of Application”. This section establishes in which cases it is mandatory to adhere to the CTE and in which it is not.

It is important that you are clear that the obligation differs from one DB to another. Consequently, in some constructions certain DBs can be applied and in others they cannot.

Typically, the CTE is mandatory in newly constructed buildings.

It must also be emphasized that its compliance does not exempt respect for other regulations in force in Spain, such as:

  • Regulation of thermal installations in buildings.
  • Spanish Instruction on Structural Concrete.
  • Fire safety regulations in industrial establishments.
  • Technical Regulations for the Distribution and Use of Gaseous Fuels.
  • Electrotechnical Regulations for Low Voltage, among others.


At the beginning we explained what CTE is. Then we address its history, structure and contents, and now, almost conclusively, we will focus on its scope of application.

Theoretically, this document should apply to public and private buildings that:

  1. Be of a permanent nature.
  2. Have projects or technical reports signed by a competent technician.
  3. That said memories have their respective license (this authorization is legally required).

Specifically, you should know that the Technical Building Code must be applied to new construction works. Unless:

  • Have technical simplicity.
  • They have little construction entity.
  • They do not have a residential or public character (eventual or permanent).
  • They are developed in a single plant.
  • Do not compromise people's safety.

Likewise, the CTE is applicable to interventions carried out on existing buildings, such as:

  • Reforms.
  • Extensions.
  • Changes of use.
  • Renovations.
  • Rehabilitations.

In these cases, the mandatory nature of the CTE is subject to the nature of the intervention and the degree of protection that the affected buildings could have.


If you are immersed in the construction sector, it is important that you know what CTE is, since its provisions are mandatory, both in the project and in the execution of the buildings.

Without a doubt, the entry into force of the Technical Building Code marked a before and after in the modernization of the building regulatory framework in Spanish territory.

If you are interested in learning more about this document, we invite you to contact to CMYK Architects.

Its team of professionals is qualified to assist and clear up your doubts in an expeditious and responsible manner.

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