Building specifications, methods and results vary according to terrain, climate and cultures and those of Spain are no different. However, as Spain’s climate and culture are most certainly different from those of Northern Europe, some of the practices and materials may baffle the average expat property buyer. On the Spanish Costas, the humid and salty air associated with strong sunlight and heat, cause the less durable elements of buildings to weather quickly. Further inland, the extreme daily and seasonal temperature and humidity changes have equally serious effects. Advancements in style and materials have also been rapid, as promoters, architects and builders have taken on and sometimes led the expectations of their foreign buyers, so that property built just 20 years ago is considered to be old. However, there is also the sticking to conventions despite evidence of poor results – to use a Scottish phrase, ‘it’s aye been’, meaning the way things have always been done – that leads to many of the common problems experienced by property buyers. With so much publicity of past problems illustrating the ‘naivety’ of some buyers, newcomers to the Spanish market are becoming much more aware of the need to seek advice when considering the purchase of a property.
The relatively small cost of a Building Survey, when compared to the costs of purchasing a building, can be repaid to the buyer many times over. By discovering defects before purchase, a buyer can chose to accept the property as it is; or renegotiate the price to allow for the hassle and works; or oblige the seller to put things right before purchase (often the best as the seller has to deal with any licence or permission difficulties); or in the worst cases, decide that they could do better and walk away from somebody else’s problems. And this can apply to a new, fully equipped apartment that has never been inhabited or an older property that’s experienced some wear and tear. One thing we’d like to point out is that a Building Survey is not a Structural Survey. Should evidence of a specific fault be discovered during the course of the initial Building Survey, it may be deemed necessary to conduct a further Structural Survey, where the Surveyor may need to break into the building structure or decoration to conduct a more thorough investigation. Not something the average property seller is going to accept without good evidence of its necessity!
What We Do For You
• A Building Survey records the findings of an inspection viewed in detail from floor or ground level, plus upper and lower levels where there is safe and easy access. Some areas are not accessible without equipment, but usually evidence of a defect will be visible nearby.
• We go through the property a room at a time and note all the defects, checking particularly for dampness, insect attack and structural movement. Thereafter, we go around the outside and do the same, often to identify the cause of evidence of a defect found inside.
• We test electricity, water and drainage by having all the appliances on at the same time, simulating maximum use with a full house. We note any problems such as circuits tripping, low water pressure and poor drainage, which can be added to any visual evidence of defects such as damp stains or stained electric sockets, etc caused by overheating.
• We also check whether machinery, kitchen equipment, heating and air conditioning is working where possible, but always with the proviso that we cannot guarantee that they are functioning to specification and will function again the next time they are tested.
• Our report provides a comprehensive list supported by photographs of the evidence of defects, the likely causes and possible solutions, laid out in a ‘walk round’ order to facilitate identification by our client doing the same walk thereafter.
• We also compare the accommodation and size of the property with the registered title (Nota Simple) and the Catastral (Tax) descriptions. As they may not have visited the property, it is possible for a solicitor to prepare perfectly good title deeds, but for these not to describe the property accurately at all. In addition, we can comment upon other documents, specifications, contracts and plans with which we are provided.
Our realistic survey provides a comprehensive view of the property, its defects and possible solutions so that a prospective purchaser knows what he or she is taking on and how well it will fit with their expectations and lifestyle.
The Survey Spain Network has individually designed software linking 14 residential RICS chartered surveyors and valuers working all round the coastal and inland areas of mainland Spain plus the Balearics, Canaries and Gibraltar. All reports are reviewed by another chartered surveyor and covered by professional indemnity insurance.