Jan 242013
Typical roof problems in Spain


Finding out what problem you have with your roof in Spain – and why it has occurred – is almost impossible for the average property owner.  This is equally true of knowing whether the remedial work suggested by your builder in Spain is really correct and reasonably priced.

Just as frustrating is the difficulty in establishing whether any roof defect that you have is the fault of someone else (your builder or architect, for example).  This can be vital, as you may well be able to claim for any roof repairs in Spain or damage caused.

The trouble with roofs, of course, is their inaccessibility.  Furthermore, few people, even when they have safe access to their roof, know enough to be able to fault find effectively.  So, you tend to be very vulnerable to poor work and, on occasions, outrageous prices.

Certainly, roof defects in Spain are not uncommon and many of the problems are due to poor or inadequate work from unskilled roofers or developers, who have ‘cut corners’ to save money.  This can certainly be true of new properties.


1.  Incorrect roof pitch

Recently, I have come across several new properties where there have been significant problems with damp ingress during bad weather.  This was due to the incorrect pitch of the roofs concerned and the wrong tile overlap – all of which were in contravention of the material manufacturer’s requirements.  As you can imagine, this type of problem is very expensive to resolve.

2.  Tile overlap

Incorrect tile overlap is a relatively common roofing problem in Spain and can lead to either water ingress or the blowing off of the tiles concerned, during windy weather.  There is a correct overlap for all tiles (which varies depending on location, as does pitch) and unless this is maintained consistently on a roof then, inevitably, there will be problems – possibly resulting in the necessity to relay the entire roof.  This is an issue that I have commonly found with newly constructed properties!

Roofing defects in Spain


3.  Cantilevering of tiles

Equally, a common problem is the incorrect cantilevering of tiles over the eaves.  This can result in tiles cracking, as they are placed under too much pressure from the rest of the roof.  The danger of this happening is as obvious, as it is serious – with the falling tiles a real danger to people (especially children!) passing underneath.

4.  Chimney detailing

In Spain, little use is made of lead flashing.  This is used extensively in the UK where different roof surfaces are joined, an example being where a roof meets a chimney.  In Spain, zinc or more commonly mortar joints are used with tiles indented into the render.  This system is not the best way of waterproofing different surfaces where they join together and can degrade rapidly under the extreme climatic conditions inherent in Spain.  Indeed, the very high temperatures during the summer and the occasional very cold temperatures of winter can play havoc with any roof joints and can result in movement and the cracking of materials used.  So, ensuring that a chimney saddle, for example, is correctly formed is essential, if water ingress is to be prevented.

5.  Inadequate roof eaves overhang

Time and again I come across properties that have an inadequate roof overhang.  This means that when it rains the rain pours down the walls of a property, rather than being thrown away from the walls and the base of the house concerned.  Obviously, during periods of sustained rain some properties have walls that become soaked thus producing damp and internal damage.

6.  Poor roof void ventilation

Ventilation for roof voids is important, if a house is not to suffer overheating and the cracking of ceiling beam lines.  Frequently, ventilation is ignored or forgotten and this should be remedied.

7.  Wind damage

Occasionally wind damage can affect even a relatively well constructed roof, but where exposed, it is best to repair the roof using certain materials and methods that will reduce the risk of future damage. Simply making good ‘as is’ will inevitably result in repeated future damage.


As always with building work in Spain you must make sure that any problem that you have is correctly diagnosed and that the appropriate remedial work is then undertaken.

Whilst there are some excellent roofers around in Spain, it is also true to say that there are many builders who tackle an array of jobs – without really knowing what they are doing or having the skills to correct problems.

So, the answer, if you have roof problems in Spain, is to have a survey and analysis of the problem undertaken by an independent professional – who can assess the work, the overall likely cost and provide a specification for any remedial works.

Equally, a professional building surveyor may well find that the original work was defective and be able to help you to make a claim against the builder or architect concerned.  This is something that I have done many times, particularly with regard to newly built properties – thus saving clients an enormous amount of time and money…

If you want to know more about roof repairs in Spain or general building defects common to Spain then do contact me.

Mark Paddon

Jan 142013
Solutions to Spanish building problems


Of course, having problems with building work in Spain is not unusual. Construction, whether a project is big or small, tends to be contentious and, all too often, ends in a dispute – usually revolving around costs, timings or the quality of the work itself. The trouble is that the very nature of building work means that the stakes involved are usually high (whether financially or emotionally). This means that the earlier you can recognize potential problems and resolve them – the better!

The question is – how can you tell when your building project in Spain is going ‘bad’, once work has started, before real damage or expense is involved?

Well, there are some common factors that I have noticed, over the years, that can indicate that all is not well. Individually, they may not be important but several factors together normally mean that you need to take immediate, preventative action.


1. The erratic attendance of your builders. (Not to be confused where necessary drying times or bad weather justifies non-attendance)

2. Work not straight or level

3. Builders asking for money ahead of any agreed payment schedule (unless demonstrably justified e.g. where a supplier needs a deposit).

4. Changes to the agreed specification and plans (without your approval).

5. Reluctance by a builder to allow a surveyor or architect to inspect work.

6. Poor quality materials.

7. Sub-standard tradesmen/workers.

8. Statements that no permissions or licensing is needed (virtually all works, even minor works, typically need a license).


1. Communicate with your builder. Onsite spoken communication is valuable, but confirm everything in written form (such as an e-mail), so that you have a record of your concerns and your builder’s response. Where possible, get your builder to sign against any agreed items. (A simple list, dated and signed by both parties).

2. Advise your architect

3. Seek advice/inspection from an independent building surveyor in Spain or an architect experienced in your type of work

4. Provide your builder with the professional’s written report and/or arrange a site meeting for all parties to attend (including the independent professional).

5. See a lawyer who specializes in building disputes

6. Ask to see evidence that permissions have been obtained, or at least understand the risks you are taking, if they have not.

Often, most issues to do with sub-standard building work in Spain can be sorted out on site, with the help of an experienced building surveyor or architect. Remember building surveyors are particularly good at identifying issues as well as spotting problems which could lead to structural (or other problems) later.  They also normally have the authority to convince a builder that the right way, is the only way.

The key, of course, is to act quickly to prevent matters going from bad to worse.  So, if you see any indications that your work is not proceeding as it should, do not allow matters to drift…

Of course, if you want to know more – or need help in resolving a building/construction issue – then please do not hesitate to contact me.

Mark Paddon