Feb 102013
 
Building surveyor specialising in Spanish construction disputes

WHERE YOU SHOULD BE – WHILST YOUR CONSTRUCTION PROBLEMS ARE BEING RESOLVED BY AN EXCELLENT LITIGATION LAWYER IN SPAIN!

It is, of course, no secret that a significant amount of the building work in Spain undertaken during the long Spanish economic boom was defective.  There were quite simply not enough skilled workers around to ensure that construction was handled by time served professionals – and this was compounded by a lack of effective building control by the authorities.  Meanwhile, some greedy and irresponsible developers ‘cut corners’ to save money and speed up the completion of properties.

The result has been predictable – with many Spanish properties built over the past fifteen years suffering from a wide array of defects.  These range from extremely serious foundation issues (in some cases leading to property collapse) to more minor concerns over damp ingress or poor insulation (both for heat and sound).

Of course, if you own a new (built within the past 10 years) property in Spain that has building problems then you should have some form of cover through your Decenal Insurance Policy.  However, this does not cover every possible problem and can be very hard to activate, due to the reluctance of some insurers to honour their policy.

If you lack a Decenal Insurance Policy or your property defects are outside the scope of the Decencal (which is very restrictive in what it covers) then you will need to take action against the parties responsible for any defective work.  This is not as hopeless a task as it sounds – particularly as there are often parties with insurance that you can sue beyond just the builder who did your work (see: Liability for construction disputes in Spain).

But – how do you effectively enforce your rights or make a claim against someone or a company for defective building work in Spain?

Well, the two critical tools you will need are a first class building surveyor with practical experience of working in Spain and on Spanish construction problems.  It is this professional who can assess the nature of your problem; the blame attached and who can act as an independent witness and someone who can advise you of any remedial works.

The second ‘tool’ is an experienced litigation lawyer.  I stress the words ’experienced’ and ‘litigation’ because, for the most part, Spanish lawyers are not specialists.  Working as sole practitioners or in small firms, they tend to do anything – whether conveyancing, probate, commercial, criminal or litigation.  This is not helpful to someone needing expert advice and guidance and is never the case in the UK or the US.

To be effective a lawyer always needs to specialise and this is no different in Spain than it is in the UK.  So, you must find a lawyer who specializes in litigation (as a minimum) and preferably one who is an expert in construction related disputes – and you should do this as soon as you need the help of lawyer in Spain.

Certainly, time and again I come across people using general lawyers to undertake their construction related disputes, usually with disastrous results.  The last time I heard about this occurring I knew the Spanish lawyer involved.  The latter undertakes (poor quality) conveyancing and probably knows less about litigation than I do about composing an orchestral symphony.

FINDING A LITIGATION LAWYER IN SPAIN WHO SPECIALISES IN SPANISH CONSTRUCTION DISPUTES

If you need a litigation lawyer in Spain for your building dispute, then make sure that he/she is:

–          Fluent in English (or your own language)

–          Independent of any other party involved in your dispute (out of your immediate area, is not a bad thing)

–          Fully insured (check this and find out the amount of his/her public liability)

–          An expert in construction issues – and this you must double check carefully.  You can do this by asking your intended lawyer for references from clients he has dealt with as well as making relevant enquiries and searches on the Internet.

Of course, at Building Defects Spain we have both an enormously experienced building surveyor, who has specialised in Spanish construction issues – as well as a bilingual English speaking (and dual qualified) litigation lawyer, who is an expert on Spanish building disputes.

So, if you need advice or help then we can be of assistance and provide you with all the tools you need to resolve your construction problems in Spain or prosecute any legal action successfully.

If the above is of interest and you want more information or to discuss your issues then do contact us.

Nick Snelling

 

Feb 022013
 
Construction related litigation Spain

WHEN THERE IS A DISPUTE – EMPLOYING THE RIGHT PROFESSIONALS IN SPAIN IS ESSENTIAL!

Do you have a construction dispute in Spain?  Is this something that is gradually driving you mad – and are you having trouble resolving your building problems?

Well, if your answer to any of the above questions is yes, then: you are not alone!

Spanish building over the past fifteen years has not always been good and many people find that they have building issues in Spain that are causing them considerable trouble.  Alongside this, of course, is the vulnerability that most people feel when they are involved in a dispute in a foreign country – where the laws are different and any resolution to a dispute can seem insurmountable.

The truth is that Spain is, in some ways, no different from any other country in that there are ways of resolving disputes and there are experienced professionals who specialise in providing this service.  Indeed, you would be crazy not to fight a dispute, if you feel that something is wrong and that the liability for any defect is that of another party.  In the case of a Spanish building dispute this could be anyone from the builder himself through to the architect, any sub-contractors and possibly the suppliers of materials.

In fact, it is a guiding principle of litigation lawyers in Spain that, almost always, there is someone other than just the builder who may be liable for construction defects.  This is a vital point, as many property owners despair of suing their Spanish builders because the builder concerned often has no money or insurance policy – or has disappeared.

Claiming against a builder in Spain                Liability for construction defects in Spain

The key to resolving construction disputes and taking court action in Spain, needless to say, revolves around two matters:

Firstly, you must make sure that you have competent professionals on your side and you should employ these as soon as your dispute starts to go out of control (or if you think that your builder is not doing or has not done your building work correctly).

The professionals you need (in the right order) are:

1. A properly qualified building surveyor.  The building surveyor must be fully qualified to practice in Spain and be a building surveyor not a marine surveyor or quantity surveyor etc.  He should also be fully insured and fluent in both your language and Spanish.  The latter is very important, should your building surveyor need to go to court on your behalf as an expert witness  – and can be vital, if he is to communicate effectively with your builders, either to obtain information or direct them in any (hopefully) agreed remedial works.

2. A litigation lawyer specialising in construction defects.  Spain is notorious for the lack of specialisation of its lawyers, with many Spanish lawyers very much general practitioners, with no real experience of the complications involved in court actions in Spain.  These require specialised knowledge and it is essential that, along with making sure your lawyer speaks English fluently (and is independent and insured), you make certain that he is an expert in Spanish litigation.  Preferably, you should try and make sure your lawyer specialises in construction litigation – as this is different from general contractual disputes.

Secondly, the moment you start to have a dispute (or think that a dispute is about to happen) then you really must gather evidence.  As we have written before here, no building project in Spain should ever start without a proper (preferably professionally prepared) Specification, Schedule of Works and Contract to evidence exactly what the project involves.  If this was not done then you must assemble as much proof as possible of what you and the builder agreed and intended– by way of any letters, e-mails or records of conversations etc.

Property movement in Spain                 Fully qualified building surveyor and litigation lawyer

Equally, during a building project make sure that you take photographs of what is happening and keep a close record of what occurs and any variations in the project (whether intended or otherwise!).  Once, you feel that things have gone awry then the importance of evidence gathering becomes ever more important.  Of course, ideally, you would call in an independent building surveyor straight away to do this.  However, in the meantime, make sure that you are actively gathering evidence that can be used, should a court action ever be necessary.

Certainly, as any experienced Spanish litigation lawyer will tell you – actual proof is vital, if you are to have any hope of winning a court case and court actions in Spain, in this regard, are no different than elsewhere in the world.

Needless to say, if you are involved in a construction related dispute in Spain now (or suspect that you may be heading that way!) then do contact us, as we are specialists in this area and we can help you.

Indeed, we may well be able to resolve your dispute well before it has to go to court.  You would be amazed what an authoritative building surveyor’s report in Spain can do – backed up by the authority of expert litigation lawyers, who are specialists in Spanish construction problems!

Nick Snelling