Construction problems are generally very stressful and we have the utmost sympathy with those that have them. We have had a number of cases relating to this and have a Class Action for construction problems at the moment. There seem to be several cases relating to property in Torrevieja or Orihuela Costa. Clients usually contact the builder first, and us when their patience is exhausted.
We wish to try to explain more in an article including several points to help clients.
In Spain, when there is a newly-built property, there are three types of guarantees.
This covers structural problems, such as, for instance, a concrete base cracking. Or foundation problems, or poorly constructed roofs or facades.
It does not matter if you are the first buyer or the third, as long as it is within 10 years of being built, and the timeframe of the guarantee. This document is very important and when you buy a property, this is another reason you should use a solicitor. To make sure that you have an important document such as this in your possession.
This covers habitation problems since the property was built. These are structural issues that do not put the property at risk of collapsing, for example. But they could stop the owner using the property. Examples could include damp, problems with drains, leaking roofs. Again it does not matter if you are the first owner or the third if within the time period since
the property was built.
Sometimes with these issues, it can be better to pay to sort these issues then claim. This is because the time needed to reach the hearing in the Courts of the trial against a builder can be considerable. And maybe in the meantime, you cannot use the property because of the leaks, damp etc. However, it is better to discuss the issue with us first. Sometimes it is hard to prove in court if the matter has been fixed and an expert report has not been done first.
The one year time limitation is for finishing issues, or “snagging”. For example, doors don’t close properly, finishes on surfaces such as walls, unsightly gaps or tiles that are not straight or raised. Once again there is this period since the house was built, in which the construction problems need to arise, in order to be able to claim.
With all three of these guarantees, once the problem has been discovered, it needs to be brought to the constructor’s attention or their lawyers. Then there are two years to claim once an email or a letter has been sent informing the builder of the construction problems.
Sometimes the problems are very clear, with other cases less so. However, in all cases, a specialist architect’s report is needed to identify the problems. Lawyers and judges are not experts in construction and thus they need a report from an expert. This will specify the problems and the solutions.
You can claim two things:-
a) you can force the builder to fix the problem (don’t forget that if a legal letter does not work, then it will take time for a legal claim to go to Court)
b) or you can fix the matters yourself and claim the compensation and legal costs of doing this
You need a lawyer’s advice to assess the case, the situation and the chances and to advise. We are happy to assist with this. Please contact us with your particular situation for us to start helping you. Remember it does not matter if you bought the house directly from the constructor, as a resale. Or if you own land and had a project of constructing a house using a builder.