You’ve waited and the moment has finally come. The developer has formally intimated that the First Occupation Licence has been received, and the keys are ready for you when you pay the final instalment at the Notary. Whoopee!
“Can I have a look round before I pay?” Unfortunately, there appears to be no legislation stating what rights you have for prior inspection, but most developers will arrange for a courtesy walk-through visit, which is often no more than an hour. That’s designed for an owner to have a look round the apartment and urbanisation, not really for a full ‘snagging’. However, it does give you the opportunity to check that any extras you’ve requested have been installed, that there have been no significant changes to the specification promised, and that there are no major defects/incomplete works. Survey Spain’s surveyor will need longer for our complete report, but as there will be no water or electricity connected, we can’t check the function of those in any case.
With developments, the work is carried out for the promotor by a building contractor. He then hands it over to the promoter with the architect’s ‘Finish of Works’ certificate. The promotor snags the development at that time, but it’s often a very general one of all the apartments, many times with major omissions in individual ones. That’s why you have to look after yourself. Your contract is with the promoter and it’s up to them to ensure that any faults you point out are corrected. For the first year, the contractor is responsible for correcting any faults, except for wear and tear by the occupiers. For the next two years, they are responsible for major defects that affect the living conditions, e.g. flooding or electricity failure and the like. Check with your lawyer when these periods start, as it will probably be when the First Occupation Licence is dated, but it could be at the date of the architect’s ‘Fin de Obras’, which could be much earlier.
In addition, there will be a decennial insurance policy, covering the structure for 10 years, with the insurance company having their own inspectors checking that the structure is being built correctly. Normally, that only covers the structure, being the foundations, pillars and floor plates. The outer walls can fall out, but unless its due to structural failure, they won’t be covered. That’s why the community administration will have building insurance, covering the common parts of the buildings and apartments. Once again, find out when the decennial insurance started, as, if a development has been lying part-completed for some time, there can be much less than 10 years left in that insurance.
After you’ve paid and signed, the property is yours and you have the right to access it whenever you want. Immediately, get contracts for the water and electricity to be connected, and as soon as that’s done, let us know and we can carry out a full ‘snagging’. Beware that sometime the purchase contracts will restrict even the time for official notice of defects to as short as 15 days after signing, so make sure that everything is set up to go immediately you’ve paid that final instalment.