Building Defects Spain

I am a journalist, author of six books (three of which are about Spain) and SEO specialist copy writer. I live permanently in Spain with my family and run Culture Spain (an authority site for ‘all things Spanish’) and a real estate agency for properties located around Gandia in Spain. Of the six books that I have written, four have been factual. These have included ‘How to Buy Spanish Property and Move to Spain- Safely’and ‘The Laptop Entrepreneur’, which is all about how to use the Internet to make an income and turbo charge your business! My latest book is Both Barrels – a comedy that has been a joy to write after so much factual writing. During my time in Spain, I have worked within the real estate industry, whilst also undertaking investigative journalism on a wide range of matters concerning Spain. This has included tackling subjects as diverse as: corruption, the economy, divorce and domestic violence, drugs, the Spanish property crash, immigration and even the Spanish culture of brothel use! I have been a columnist for the A Place in the Sun magazine and I have featured as an expert on programmes by the BBC (Radio 4 and BBC 1), ITV and Channel 4 (A Place in the Sun) – with regard to matters concerning Spain. This has complemented the time I spent co-presenting a TV programme for a Spanish TV channel and ‘fixing’ that I have undertaken for a major TV production company. Finally, if you need investigative articles, ‘fixing’, SEO and copy writing or corporate article PR then please feel free to contact me.

Nov 142012
 
Subsidence and heave in Spain

HOUSE MOVEMENT IN SPAIN CAN BE DRAMATIC!

Few things are more disturbing for an owner of Spanish property than to have a house suffering from movement.  This is enough to send most people into a panic – and understandably so.

That said, I have also come across property owners who have house movement in Spain who have clearly been in denial for years.  This is, invariably, not sensible.  Like most things in life, the sooner a problem is faced up to and dealt with the better and, in the case of property movement, this is essential, for three reasons.

Firstly, although rare, property movement can lead to the collapse of a part or all of a house.  So, ignoring movement or signs of movement can end up endangering lives.

Secondly, swift remedial action can save time and money, as the damage to a building can be restricted by immediate action.

Thirdly, if a Spanish property is less than ten years old then you should be able to claim against your Decenal insurance policy (the Builder’s Guarantee in Spain).  This should mean that your Decenal insurer will bear the costs of the remedial work required to return your house to its proper state.  Of course, leave your notification to your insurer for too long and your Decenal policy may expire – leaving you to pay for all the work!

WHAT TO DO – IF YOU THINK YOUR HOUSE IS SUFFERING FROM MOVEMENT IN SPAIN

1.  Contact an independent building surveyor for an assessment

2.  Check to see if you have a valid Decenal policy

3.  Provide your Decenal insurer (if you have one) with a copy of your independent surveyor’s report

4. Formalise this process via an experienced lawyer or at least copy them in on your communications with the Decenal insurers.

There are many reasons why house movement in Spain occurs.  However, usually it is connected directly to the foundations (or lack of them!) upon which a house lies.  If foundations are not adequate then, by definition, a property will not be stable and move.  This is particularly true of properties built on steep slopes or upon ground that is inappropriate for housing (land fill sites being a good example).

Indications of property movement in Spain

Of course, before any construction of a house takes place there should be a geo-technical survey, the results of which should define the suitability of the ground for building and the type of foundations required for a given type of property.  This is essential, for example, where the substrate is clay –a substance that naturally expands and contracts (producing heave and subsidence, respectively) dependent upon its moisture content over the course of time.

Needless to say, building control during the long Spanish property boom was sometimes less than satisfactory.  Worse still, in some cases, geotechnical reports were falsified, so that properties could be built where the land was not suitable.  Meanwhile, on occasions, foundations for Spanish houses have not always ben correctly constructed.  Sometimes this has been caused by ignorance and carelessness on the part of builders and sometimes a deliberate ploy to save money (foundations can be a very expensive part of a house build!).

Professional assessment, remedial advice and litigation help for property movement

Not all cracks in a property, of course, are the result of serious movement.  Indeed, often cracks and ‘signs’ of movement in Spanish properties are the result of natural settlement and thermal drying – which is not something to worry about.

So, do not panic as soon as you see ‘signs’ of movement in your property.  They may be benign.

However, assessing whether cracks and ‘signs’ of movement are serious or not and represent a major problem is not something for anyone not specifically trained in structural surveying of properties.  Indeed, investigating whether and why a property is moving is a complicated process and one in which even minor cracks can sometimes be signs of significant underlying problems.

Our services – professional building surveyor and construction litigation lawyer

Fortunately, there are many ways of dealing with property movement and defective foundations.  There are excellent systems available to rectify property foundation problems and, in the vast majority of cases, houses that suffer from movement or poor foundations can be fully restored to their intended state.

So – do not think that the ‘end of the world’ has come when you have (or think you have!) property movement.  With the right help and advice, most problems can be sorted out to your satisfaction and the long term well-being of your property.

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

Oct 252012
 
Expert in Spanish construction litigation

SUING BUILDERS IN SPAIN – DETAILED STUDY OF PILE FAILURE

Building disputes in Spain are, sadly, not uncommon.  Indeed, hardly a day goes by when I do not receive a call or e-mail from someone who has some sort of construction problem in Spain.

In fact, as I have stated before, the construction of new properties in Spain over the past few years has been very variable.  I have certainly seen fine work but, all too often, I come across defective buildings in Spain.  Quite frankly, the level of skill used in Spanish construction has not always been good and this has been made worse by lax (or sometimes no!) building control.

Of course, it is not only new buildings that have suffered from poor work.  The same is frequently the case with reform projects.  The latter are notorious for going over-budget and it is far from unknown for property owners to end up with a quality of construction and finish that bears no resemblance to what they expected.  Equally, timings for completion of the work can sometimes go from the sublime to the ridiculous!

So, what can you do when a building project in Spain goes wrong?

Speak to your builder

Well, if you are dissatisfied with your building work then the sooner you try to resolve the problem the better.  Certainly, never allow work to continue, if you feel that there is something wrong with the way it is being conducted.  If you do (and you are present most of the time) then you may be considered as someone who has willingly accepted what is being done.

If you are not happy, my advice is always to first tackle the builder and see if you can resolve the problem that is concerning you.  This is an obvious action and usually sorts out most problems, many of which arise quite simply from misunderstandings.

Obtain independent, expert advice

However, if your approach to your builder is ineffective then it is essential that you call in an independent construction expert – such as a properly qualified (and insured in Spain!) building surveyor or structural engineer.  This is the only way that you will be able to authoritatively find out whether there is a real problem or not – how serious that problem is and how best to remedy it.

Make sure, of course, that your building surveyor provides you with a written report, as you may need this should you have to take legal action and it is invaluable as a document to give to your builder.

Frequently, the building surveyor or structural engineer will be able to resolve any Spanish construction problems with the builder.  Direct communication between the two is often, I have found, enough to isolate a problem and ensure that a builder understands what is wrong and how to resolve it (and the consequences of not doing so!).

Certainly, the value of an independent, objective expert should not be underestimated, particularly when matters have become heated.  More often than not, at this stage any building defect dispute can be resolved to the satisfaction of all concerned – allowing the project to continue or remedial works to be undertaken.

Construction problems in Spain

TOTAL COLLAPSE OF CRITICAL RETAINING WALL

Needless to say, if your building surveyor or structural engineer has made recommendations to complete or undertake defined works then you should make sure that he supervises these works to ensure that they are properly completed.

Note that taking action early is important e.g. when some monies are still being withheld – or at least when your builder is still financially secure.   Equally, be aware that a genuine lack of sufficient funds will typically result in no action from your builder, even if he agrees that corrections need to be made!

Litigation and suing builders in Spain

Of course, there are times when a building dispute in Spain goes beyond any easy resolution.  For any number of reasons, you can find that you and the builder (even with the help of a building surveyor’s report) cannot come to agreement.  This happens particularly when a builder has no money (as mentioned above).

Furthermore, in my experience, it is actually rare for a builder to put things right properly and a history of inadequate repairs and ‘cover up’ work is common. However, by Spanish law you must give your builder the opportunity to put things right.

Naturally, it is perfectly normal to lose confidence in a builder who repeatedly proves to be untrustworthy or incompetent and the line as to just how much opportunity you should give them is ill defined.

Needless to say, if you just cannot get a satisfactory resolution from your builder (and many owners waste money and time in an attempt to do so) then you will have to face the unpleasant prospect of legal action in Spain.

Problem with Spanish builders

SIGNIFICANT PROPERTY MOVEMENT

In fact, all is not always lost at this stage.  Frequently, a builder can be ‘brought to heel’ (and perhaps even find some money) once he has received a detailed letter from a litigation lawyer threatening legal action.  Few people really want to face a court action and the reality of this occurring can concentrate the minds of many constructors – together with the minds of architects and even insurers, who might prove to be liable or jointly liable as the case unfolds.  The latter point is particularly important.

Your builder may have no money and possibly not be worth suing but this will often not be true of fully insured  professionals or companies associated with your building work, such as the Geotech firm responsible for your property or the architect who supervised the project.  Equally you may be covered by a Decenal insurance policy.

So, the fact that your builder may be penniless does not mean that you should despair of taking legal action and suing builders in Spain – although you will need a decent lawyer and construction professional to assist you in assessing the potential liability of others involved in your project!

Not everyone will buckle under the threat of litigation in Spain and you may well have to actually launch an action to obtain compensation for defective building work in Spain.  This, of course, is an unfortunate direction to take but sometimes unavoidable.

If you do decide to take legal action then you must make sure that the lawyer you go to is a specialist litigation lawyer – and preferably one who is an expert in Spanish construction litigation.  This is vital, as many lawyers in Spain are not specialists and should not be entrusted with the responsibility of conducting a major contentious case.

Naturally, taking legal action in Spain is a last resort but you should realise that the Spanish legal system does work and that court actions, more or less, take as long as in the UK.  By this, I mean that should your case not settle before the trial then you should expect a trial to take place some two or three years after issuing proceedings.  There may then be an appeal, which could take some 18 months after that to resolve.

So, be aware that legal proceedings in Spain (like almost anywhere in the world) take time and, of course, money to prosecute.  However, this may be the only way that you can resolve your dispute.  In that case it can be your only realistic course of action and one that should (if you have a good case) be worthwhile.

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

Mark Paddon

 

Oct 082012
 
Building defect insurance claims in Spain

FAILING ARCH WITH SIGNIFICANT STRUCTURAL CRACKING

Making insurance claims against a builder in Spain is not always as simple as it may appear and certainly ensuring that you are successful in any building defect claim – can be fraught!

Sadly, our experience has been that Spanish property owners making a claim against their builders can be faced with a number of complexities.  Firstly, of course, you have to be able to prove that your property has a defect and that it is the responsibility of your builder.   To do this, you will almost certainly need an independent report from a specialist building surveyor able to analyse the building defect and to assess why and how it has occurred – and who is to blame.

It is unwise to rely upon your builder’s assessment, and reporting from the project architect is also often unreliable (typically playing issues down) and a report from an unqualified professional will be completely unpersuasive to an insurance company, let alone a Spanish court.

Of course, you may be covered by your ‘builder’s guarantee’ or Decenal in Spain, if you own a property built within the last ten years.  However, Decenal insurance companies in Spain can be very tardy at paying out for property construction related claims and will often also attempt to downplay the extent of the repairs needed; possibly leaving you with future problems or remedial work that is inadequate.

Indeed, forcing Decenal insurance companies to act properly and to honour their commitments is not for the faint hearted and invariably requires the employment of a specialist surveyor backed up by a litigation lawyer (separate from the insurance company!).

Obviously, in Spain, many foreigners have difficulty asserting themselves properly because of their lack of Spanish and poor knowledge of the Spanish legal system.  This can make processing a claim for defective construction in Spain very difficult and it can prolong the process considerably.

The answer, of course, is to use a bi-lingual building surveyor and bi-lingual lawyer both of whom specialise in insurance claims against builders in Spain.  This is a service that we can provide, backed up by years of experience of tackling construction problems throughout Spain and the islands of Spain.

In fact, we have attended Spanish courts many times on behalf of clients and have successfully prosecuted actions where properties have suffered from a range of defects – from those that have been relatively minor to complete structural failures.

Interestingly, we have also undertaken a lot of work for insurance loss adjusters and so we know how they work, how to present our reports to best effect and where appropriate how to place effective pressure upon insurance companies – so that they take your claim seriously.

If you are concerned about your Spanish property and think that you have a building defect or construction problem then do contact me.  We can make sure that your justified insurance claims against a builder in Spain are processed to maximise your chances of success, providing a one-stop service for you that will remove much of the worry and stress you may feel.

Mark Paddon

Oct 022012
 
Property Structural defects in Spain

GEOTECHNICAL INVESTIGATION OF GROUND UNDERNEATH A PROPERTY – ESSENTIAL WORK!

Unfortunately, property movement in Spain is not uncommon.  There are many reasons for this, including defective geotechnical surveys and inadequate foundations – either of which can lead to a Spanish property suffering from serious subsidence or heave.

Since 2000 all new build properties (with a few exceptions) must have a Decenal 10 year, insurance backed guarantee to protect property owners against structural instability.  As a part of the Decenal (sometimes known as the Builder’s Guarantee), a geotechnical study of the ground must be commissioned  by the builder, developer or architect to ensure that a plot is capable of providing a stable area for an intended property and ascertain the correct foundation system.

Pre-build bore testing (in two or more places on the plot) using a core drill, is undertaken by geotechnical experts to investigate the make-up of the ground substrates, level of firm ground, moisture content, propensity to shrink or heave etc. The core samples are then taken back to a laboratory for more detailed assessment, from which a geotechnical report is produced. The report may suggest the type of foundations most suited to the ground conditions – or even state that the ground is unsuitable for the construction of properties.   So the geotechnical report is extremely important and a vital component in the design and build of any property in Spain.

However, not all geotechnical reports in Spain are carried out to the same stringent standards and (in my experience) some geotechnical reports have a habit of going missing when there is a court action – indicating that the proper survey was not carried out or was known to be defective.

Of course, if your property suffers from subsidence or heave in Spain then this is a serious matter and one that, unavoidably, needs urgent attention.  In reality, you may be facing a minor problem (and sometimes not a problem at all!) – or you may have a serious progressive structural issue that requires considerable work to resolve. Most builders and architects involved in your build will state that ‘it’s normal settlement’ and ‘its nothing to worry about’ – often then filling the cracks. Do not accept this diagnosis before you have had a second and independent opinion!

Property subsidence in Spain

CORE SAMPLES FROM A GEOTECHNICAL SURVEY

The trouble is that any resolution of your property movement may be complicated by the need to start a court action to force your Decenal insurers to take any property movement seriously and pay for the necessary remedial works.  I would stress the ‘necessary’ remedial works because it is not unknown for insurers to try to minimise the work required to resolve any structural defects caused by movement.

Certainly, if you do have property movement in Spain then you should employ a professional surveyor to ensure that the reason for your movement is correctly identified.  This invariably requires a detailed investigation of a property (trial opening of foundation areas may be typical), proper crack monitoring (note that commonly used patches of plaster often applied by architects here are not reliable!) and an expert  geotechnical study is sometimes also required to check that the property has been built on adequate ground – and with proper foundations.

Meanwhile, taking court action in Spain is not for the faint hearted and must be done by a specialist litigation lawyer, who is familiar with construction litigation in Spain and can prepare a winning case, should court action be necessary.  This is certainly not something that a non-litigation lawyer should attempt and you would be very unwise not to seek expert help – given the very considerable amounts at stake.

At Building Defects Spain, we are specialists in property movement and building defects litigation.  This forms a considerable part of our daily work and we can provide you with unparalleled advice and assistance if you do have subsidence or heave.

So, if you think you have property movement in Spain then do contact us.  We can provide you with all the help that you need from an initial survey through to a geotechnical investigation (as required), a detailed report on the necessary remedial works and management of the corrective works.  We can also provide you with a specialist (bi-lingual and bi-qualified) litigation lawyer – who specialises in building defects legal actions in Spain and with whom we have worked closely for years.

Mark Paddon

Sep 252012
 
Leaking flat roofs in Spain

FLAT ROOF PROBLEMS IN SPAIN – THERMAL MOVEMENT CAN AGGRAVATE A ROOF MEMBRANE AND TILES

As anyone who has lived in Northern Europe knows, flat roofs can be an enduring problem.  All too often they are the cause of leaks and few flat roofs retain their integrity beyond around 15-20 years – before requiring extensive repair work.

In Spain the situation is much the same with the more extreme climate often stressing flat roofs in Spain to their very limit.  Very high summer day time temperatures and cold nights can damage membranes, crack grout on tiles and distort any flashing.  Any of these problems can lead to leaks, which can cause significant damage to a property.

Unfortunately, a frequent problem encountered with flat roofs in Spain relates to the inadequacy of any membrane between the roof sub-surface (usually concrete over a concrete block infill) and the final surface (most commonly tiles).  Sadly, on the flat roofs of some properties no membrane at all is used and sometimes the flashing between the parapet walls of a flat roof can be poorly executed – either of which can result in leaks.  Surprisingly, a lack of proper membrane on the flat roofs of newly built properties is not unusual – so do not fall into the trap of thinking that just because your Spanish house is new that the flat roof has been correctly constructed…

Flat roof repairs in Spain

TYPICAL WATER INGRESS FROM FAILING FLAT ROOF

Of course, any membrane (normally waterproof asphalt) deteriorates with time, in any event, and therefore needs replacing.  Indeed, generally speaking, if a flat roof in Spain is older than 20 years then you might need to renew it.

Typical signs of flat roof problems in Spain include the obvious tracking of water from the roof area down into the living area of a property.  This may become apparent, initially, in staining and then be followed by major water ingress.

Repair of flat roof problems in Spain can take a number of forms including the application of water proof roof paint, which is often pink or red in colour.  This can suffice in the short term but is rarely long lasting and always a sign that a significant problem exists – that will have to be dealt with properly at some stage.

There are a number of different ways of remedying flat roof problems in Spain but it is important to find the optimum, long term solution.  Sometimes this can be cheap and easy, so do not always anticipate or pay for solutions that are unnecessary or unjustified!

Roofing specialists in Spain

LONG TERM WATER INGRESS CAN CAUSE SERIOUS DECAY OF STRUCTURALLY IMPORTANT REINFORCEMENT STEELS

Equally, identifying the reason for damp ingress in a property is not always as straightforward as it seems.  Sometimes, the actual roof of a property may be fine but an area of parapet flashing is defective.  However, on occasions the ingress of damp or water may indicate a more serious problem related to subsidence or heave.

If you have flat roof problems in Spain then do feel free to contact us.  We will be able to save you money and ensure that your roof is dealt with correctly and that your problems will be resolved!

Mark Paddon

Sep 212012
 
Property movement in Spanish properties

THE SUDDEN COLLAPSE OF A BALCONY AFTER MANY YEARS OF DECAY

There are many reasons why property movement and cracking in Spain can cause a property to become unstable.  Sometimes this is due to subsidence but this is not always the case.  Indeed, a relatively common problem in Spanish properties can be due to the decay of the steel reinforcement used in the construction of the property itself.

Many properties in Spain (whether houses or flats) have a ferro-concrete construction.  This means that steel is used to reinforce the concrete used in building the property.  So, for example, steel rods are surrounded by concrete to give the concrete strength for walls, foundations, ceiling and roof slabs as well as beams.  Meanwhile, some properties have a steel beam construction.  This is then enclosed with blocks or brickwork.

Obviously, it is important that the steel within a property is correctly connected and protected from damp so as not to lose its integrity.  This is very important because if the steel within a property is defective in any way (or becomes defective) then there is a possibility of serious collapse.  This may only occur within a particular section of the property concerned but it could stress other areas and can lead to a complete collapse of a building.

The process of steel reinforcement decay in Spain can be slow and is therefore always more prevalent and advanced in older properties. Steel decay can result eventually in structural failure in floors – and even whole apartment blocks have been known to fail. Normally, professional inspection will identify initial signs of decay, so that repairs can be made. However, these repairs are invariably expensive and complicated, and advanced decay can mean that substantial rebuilding is required. In some cases, the concrete itself may be sub-standard or even mixed with salt water and beach sand in coastal locations (albeit in rare cases).

Although new build properties in Spain rarely show signs of reinforcement corrosion – ventilation or surface protection may well have been omitted. In this case, some new properties can be at a high risk of decay in the future.

Common structural problems with Spanish properties

CONCRETE BEAMS LOSE MUCH OF THEIR STRENGTH AS DECAY ADVANCES

Unfortunately, in much Spanish building, standard practice precautions to protect steel were commonly ignored during earlier developments and sometimes during the more recent property boom. This was combined, all too often, with poor building control and sometimes, inadequate knowledge on the part of those actually constructing properties. So, even new builds should be inspected professionally to ensure that reinforced steel work has been correctly installed and protected for the long-term security of a building.

Of course, if you have any signs of property movement and cracking in Spain then you should react quickly to have a professional assessment of the problem.  I would stress the word ‘professional’ as assessing whether a property has a genuine problem and what that problem has been caused by is not something that should ever be undertaken by an unqualified person.

Indeed, assessing Spanish property movement and subsidence is far from simple.  Some homes may have signs of property movement and cracking in Spain and yet these can turn out to be of no concern and merely the results of normal thermal cracking or ageing.  On the other hand, some quite minor signs of problems can be an indication of a serious issue that requires prompt attention.

Mark Paddon

Sep 102012
 
Defective retaining wall in Spain

RETAINING WALL COLLAPSE IN SPAIN – INCORRECTLY BUILT!

A problem that I frequently encounter when called to assess building problems is retaining wall collapse in Spain.

Retaining walls (of varying sizes and made of differing materials) are an essential component to the stability of a property in Spain and they are a common sight on estates built upon hilly or steep ground.  However, retaining walls are rarely identified as such by property owners, who often believe that the walls on the boundaries of their properties are primarily there for ascetic reasons.

However, the truth is that many Spanish properties are very dependent on retaining walls for their stability.

Unfortunately, many retaining walls in Spain are not built properly and can collapse with devastating consequences.  This often occurs after a severe rainfall (such as a Gota Fria) – when enormous amounts of water can place a retaining wall under immense pressure.  If the wall has not been properly built then it (or a part of it) can collapse.

Retaining wall dispute Spain

PROPER RESOLUTION TO A DEFECTIVE RETAINING WALL CAN BE COSTLY WHEN A HOUSE STANDS IN THE WAY!

So, before buying a property in Spain on steep ground it is well worth making sure that any retaining walls are properly inspected along with the house itself.  Equally, if you are building a new house in Spain on steep ground then ensure that your builder really does know what he is doing and that he as the knowledge and ability to construct a retaining wall correctly.  This is not as simple as it sounds, if the wall is to be effective long term.

In some cases, retaining walls have been omitted and new properties in Spain sit either above or below cut slopes that are highly prone to collapse or landslides. This can risk lives as well as property and is something about which you should be extremely wary.

Sadly, some unscrupulous developers have sold properties with retaining wall issues to innocent buyers, despite the dangers. This is because the construction in Spain of a proper, load-bearing retaining wall – significantly adds costs to a building project, whilst providing no obvious benefit to the layman.

Structural walls Spain

THIS PROPER, PART COMPLETED REPAIR INCLUDES A COMPLEX PILED AND CANTILEVERED FOUNDATION SYSTEM AND SPECIAL REAR DRAINAGE MEASURES

Needless to say, replacing a retaining wall or rebuilding one can be very expensive.  Indeed, on some properties, the cost can amount to hundreds of thousands of Euros.

Certainly, be warned that there are plenty of builders who will have their own ‘master plan’ as to how to put things right. Often I find their proposals (whilst they mean well) to have errors, that could result in danger to workers and a potential future structural failure. It is always worth seeking an independent opinion on such matters –not least because the stakes are so high!.

Always check (before buying a property in Spain) whether or not the existing retaining wall is adequate – or whether your intended property should have had one in any event!

Finally, if you have doubts about the integrity of your retaining wall or if it is cracking or leaning or showing signs of stress – then contact me as soon as possible.  The collapse of a retaining wall can have huge implications and is one of the building problems in Spain that can require rapid remedial action.

Mark Paddon

Jul 312012
 
Cracks in swimming pools in Spain

SPANISH SWIMMING POOL CONSTRUCTION PROBLEMS: A FAILED INFINITY SWIMMING POOL WITH SERIOUS CRACKING

Sadly, not all swimming pools in Spain are constructed well.  Indeed, as a surveyor specializing in Spanish property, I see many Spanish swimming pool construction problems – the remedial works for which can sometimes be very expensive.

Unfortunately, even new swimming pools can have serious structural issues and, in recent years, many pools have been built defectively or over insufficient foundations (normally to save money).

Of course, great attention has to be paid to the construction of a swimming pool, the sheer nature of which can cause instability and movement, if the foundations are not extremely good.  This is particularly the case when pools are built on a clay or fill substrate.  Meanwhile, even those built on rock can suffer from cracking following tremors (or major construction work close by) especially when the wall or base structure is of minimal thickness or reinforcement steels are inadequate or poorly placed.

Meanwhile, on rare occasions I have seen pools that have been ‘faked’: tiled with steps, dolphin mosaic and so on, but laid over a basic block lining only, with no reinforced structure. This has resulted in the walls and base failing, once the pool is filled and the full weight of the water imposed on the structure.

When it comes to older swimming pools, these can often be very well built and are sometimes based on converted water deposits. However, they can contain structural issues, which can be expensive to resolve in the long term. A typical problem is expired galvanised iron pipe work, which eventually decays and leaks and can cause erosion of the supporting substrates and significant further movement.

Of course, not every crack or fault is serious and many swimming pool problems in Spain can be sorted out with relative ease and low cost.

As always with construction problems, you should react quickly when you notice that your swimming pool has a potential defect.  Firstly, any remedial works may resolve a problem before it becomes serious and potentially very expensive – not least because any continuous escape of water may undermine the foundations of both the pool and even your house!

Typical swimming pool problems

INCORRECTLY PLACED STEEL REINFORCEMENT TO SWIMMING POOL BASE

Secondly, you may have a potential claim against your builder, architect or insurers for any defects in your swimming pool.  If this is the case then speedy action is necessary, as processing claims can take time and any legal dispute that results is unlikely to be resolved fast.

At Building Defects Spain, we offer a one-stop service for you, if you think you have Spanish swimming pool construction problems.  We can not only provide you with a survey of your swimming pool (which may show that there is no defect) but also manage and advise you on any remedial works.  Furthermore, our lawyers are ‘on hand’, should you need to make a claim against your builders – and they are specialist building dispute lawyers able to take your case to court should that be unavoidable.

So, if you think you have a construction related problem with your Spanish swimming pool then do contact us.  We work throughout Spain and often save clients thousands of Euros through use of our expertise (see our qualifications and experience as bi-lingual and bi-qualified professionals).

Mark Paddon

Jul 302012
 

SPANISH DAMP PROBLEMS: EXCESSIVE MOLD SPORE GROWTH

Many Spanish properties suffer from damp problems and this includes houses in Mediterranean areas – which may seem strange given Spain’s climate.

Typically Spanish damp problems can be found in:

–      Sub-ground areas – often called underbuilds or sotanos. These often lack effective tanking. This is particularly true of illegal underbuilds.

–      Terrace door surround areas and roof terraces. These are often poorly sealed and lack a waterproof membrane.

–      Over-sealing of the living space. This causes condensation-related mould and is more common in new, double-glazed Spanish properties than in older, poorly insulated houses.

Obviously, damp can prove to be a major problem and damp-related rot is often very common in under build areas, where timbers have not been treated properly.

Sometimes damp in Spanish properties is a sign of a more serious problem and damp can indicate that there is the underlying possibility of a significant building defect that may have its origins in poor or defective construction.

So, damp in Spanish properties is not something to ignore!

damp-in-Spanish-properties

DAMP FLOOR SLAB (NO DAMP COURSE?)

Of course, often Spanish damp problems can be resolved quite easily at minimum cost.  Sometimes, it can be remedied by simply properly ventilating a given area.  However, at other times, extensive tanking is required and occasionally external retaining walls need to be built (together with an effective water drainage system) to stop water ingress.

Importantly, the reason why you have damp (and unsightly mould) may be due to the poor or incompetent work of your builders or the constructors of your property.  In this case, you may well have a claim for recompense.

Equally, you should be aware that legally, if you find any significant defects that have been deliberately hidden by the seller of your property (within six months of purchase) then you may have a case for compensation against your seller. Unfortunately, this can be very difficult to prove – so it is always better to try and identify any issues prior to purchase by consulting a building surveyor.

Be very cautious about consulting a ‘Damp Specialist’ contractor alone, as it is obviously in their interests to specify costly works, which are not always required or might not even resolve the problem. (They often offer a free ‘survey’ by someone that is typically not a qualified surveyor but more a sales person).

The source of damp problems in Spain is not always obvious and professional help is almost always essential, if the problem is to be correctly identified and treated.  It is also fair to say that should the reason for the damp become a matter of dispute then you will need not just an expert building surveyor’s report but also (usually) a building dispute lawyer able to prosecute your claim effectively.

At Building Defects Spain we have a first class British building surveyor (qualified in the UK and Spain) and a lawyer (qualified in Ireland and Spain) who can help you resolve your problems.  Contact us – and let us establish why you have a problem with damp in Spain, what remedial action is needed and whether you have a valid claim against your builders or developer.

Mark Paddon