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.
INDICATIONS OF POTENTIAL PROBLEMS WITH BUILDING WORK IN SPAIN
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).
ACTIONS TO TAKE ONCE YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE BUILDING PROBLEMS
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.