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.