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Addressing structural issues in Spanish properties

15. If a structural issue is identified, what is the typical process for remediation?
15.1. Unless one has specific building experience within Spain, it’s best always to consult a local building expert. Make sure that they have experience in identifying defects and their causes and are not just design specialists. Often, it’s good to get a second opinion and listen to all recommendations, but at the end of the day keep a level head and act prudently. A long-term solution is often much more economic then multiple short-term fixes.
16. How long does it typically take to address and fix common structural problems?
16.1. Every property is individual so every problem has its own timescale and cost, and no work can be described as typical. It also depends upon the availability of appropriate trades people and, with scarcity of materials these days, the availability of replacements for the items that have failed.
17. What are the potential costs associated with fixing structural issues in Spanish properties?
17.1. See the answer above.

18. Legal and Documentation:
19. Are there legal obligations for property owners when structural issues are identified?
19.1. The obligation is principally to themselves, seeking early professional advice regarding changes to the building that are concerning them. Most often, the matters are not serious and can be corrected by minor works. Dealt with quickly, they stop minor matters progressing into bigger ones.
19.2. If there is a significant problem, the cause of it should be found and stopped as soon as possible, and the necessary remedial works carried out quickly.
20. How do structural issues impact property insurance and valuation?
20.1. Undoubtedly, the costs of correcting defects in a building will be taken into account in a current market valuation. Bank valuations are much less rigorous, and the defects need to be significant before the valuer will notice them in their brief walk round visit. If they are serious, the bank may be advised not to lend on the property, or at least make it a condition of the mortgage loan that the necessary works are carried out before the loan money is transferred.
20.2. Property insurers will often try to avoid responsibility for the costs of defects, citing that they are an initial building fault or an ‘Act of God’, which they will not cover. The standard response nearly always appears to be “No”, so that a homeowner will need to fight to get compensation. If there is a structural problem within the first 10 years, then it’s more difficult for the insurer to avoid their responsibility. But remember, the basic decennial insurance will not cover the walls between the structural pillars, nor driveways, pools, gardens, etc, unless they are specifically stated as being included.

21. Working with Professionals:
22. How can Survey Spain assist in identifying and addressing structural issues?
22.1. Our surveyors/home inspectors all have many years of experience living and working with building construction local to where they work. The directors of Survey Spain have chosen them and trust them to be conscientious in their work and to take the attitude of being a home buyer and what they would need to know about the building before agreeing to buy it.
22.2. Survey Spain is more than 20 years old, and the directors have been working in Spanish property for more years than that. Campbell D Ferguson, the founder and owner, is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (FRICS), the most important professional worldwide organisation. He reviews all the draft reports submitted by the surveyors/home inspectors, often questioning them on points that are not clear. Only then does he sign the Report and send it off to the client.
22.3. Thereafter, the client may ask any questions regarding the report and the property and often is put in direct contact with the professional who inspected the property.
23. What qualifications do your surveyors have in identifying structural problems specific to Spanish properties?
23.1. Training, years of experience, and being property owners and occupiers themselves, are the security that gives our clients confidence. Many have come from outside Spain many years ago, and so can empathise with and guide clients who are perhaps coming to the country with little knowledge of the regulations, culture, and conventions.
23.2. The surveyors/inspectors are a selection of members of RICS, the UK’s Chartered Institute of Builders, Architects, or Technical Architects. All these organisation demand that their members have professional indemnity insurance.
24. How does the process of working with Survey Spain differ from other surveying companies?
24.1. Whilst professional letters after a name are important, it’s the experience and conscientious attitude that makes Survey Spain’s surveyors/inspectors most useful to their clients. They do take personal responsibility for providing their client with the best inspection and advice available, often working beyond the original instruction where it’s felt that more advice is required. They ask the questions the client doesn’t know to ask and analyse the replies for accuracy and relevance.

Anything we missed?

25. Survey Spain are an essential part of the homebuying process and liaise with client’s lawyers and estate agents. The findings and Report are confidential to their client, and are not shared with sellers, agents or even lawyers without the client’s permission. However, they always recommend passing on a copy of the Survey/Inspection Report to the lawyer, as Survey Spain also can compare the Title and Tax descriptions of a property with what the surveyor/inspector finds is physically there. More often than not, there are differences, some of which may be crucial to the legality of the building or it’s use, and which could be a significant cost or concern to the buyer at the time of purchase or in the future.
26. As a client stated when writing to thank for a comprehensive Survey Spain Report, ““We consider the money spent more of an investment into our peace of mind that we are making a good choice, rather than a cost”.

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