Indications of building defects in Spain



The question is: how do you know whether your property in Spain has a serious building defect – as opposed to a minor problem?

In truth, recognising serious building defects in Spain from something of little or no importance is only something that an experienced and properly qualified building surveyor can confirm.

However, there are often overt indications that something is wrong and that a building has a significant defect.  Indeed, if you know what to look for then you can spot warning signs sufficient to alert you to a potential problem.

Of course, the sooner that you identify a potential problem and the quicker you call in a surveyor, the better.   Speedy remedial action can save a great deal of money and upset and sometimes a serious defect can be corrected before more serious damage (or potential serious injury) occurs.

Furthermore, all Spanish properties built since the 6th May 2000 must, by law, have a 10 year, insurance backed building guarantee (Decenal).  If your property was built around ten years ago then your building guarantee may be about to expire.

So, time may be of the essence if you are to make a claim that will be covered by your existing Decenal  insurance!

The images below show properties that we have surveyed and that have had construction related problems in Spain, varying considerably in severity.  Some of the properties shown were in danger of imminent collapse and had to be evacuated, whilst others had defects that could be corrected with relatively little work and expense – although most required the services of our litigation lawyer to enforce the obligations of the builder (or his insurance company).

Many of the images below show examples of structural faults that could be covered by your Decenal insurance – or that could indicate a potentially serious building defect.


Vertical, horizontal or diagonal cracking to house walls or roof eaves areas.

Leaning walls or sloping internal floors.

Cracking to floors, separation of floor from wall at skirting.

Signs of structural movement in Spain

Cracking to ceilings, separation of ceiling from wall.

Sticking windows or doors. Doors that swing shut or open on their own. Sticking blinds.

Damp problems in Spanish properties

Damp filtration via cracked areas in walls or roof structure.

Damp problems Spain

Any other damp e.g. rising, (where the Decenal policy includes a specific policy extension).

Bowing or rotating retaining walls.

Slight initial signs of structural movement may be in form of hairline cracks

Structural problems Spain

Rotating steps or balustrades.

Swimming pool water that is not level with tile lines.

Swimming pool structural problem

Cracking to pool structure (also water loss to pool ).

Of course – before you have a professional assessment of your building structure, there is no need to panic!

Sometimes what are visually worrying cracks turn out to be of little structural concern e.g. they may be related to thermal movement or initial new build settlement that has ceased.

However, it is important to note that serious progressive structural movement is typically first evident in a similar form to more serious progressive issues e.g. via minor cracking to walls, ceilings and floors, slight sticking of some doors and windows and, in the case of external elements (such a swimming pools and retaining walls) slight water loss, slight evident cracking, evident rotation or an unlevel structure.

Your builder or project architect will normally make light of such issues stating that it is ‘normal’ or they may even cover up the issues with inadequate flexible repairs -but do not accept the explanations of involved parties unless confirmed by a truly independent professional.

Your builder’s guarantee insurance (Decenal) has a time limit – and you have only two years from the date of discovery of potential defects to formally report the issues.

We typically arrange trial excavation of foundations and Geotechnical bore tests to determine and prove exactly where the problem lies. We don’t like to guess and hence we base all diagnosis on firm evidence.

We understand that structural problems and worries can de damaging to your enjoyment of your home in Spain and even cause domestic arguments. No one wants to show guests around an evidently cracking home and renting can become impossible, if problems become worse. It is our key focus to get to the bottom of the problems that your property is suffering and to help you to achieve a proper resolution, with minimum stress and worry.

We deal with similar issues every day and you are by no means alone…

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