September 8, 2013 at 3:56 pm #57787
To start: Thanks Mark for your site which has been very helpful indeed.
Having been guided through the purchasing process (we have used many of the professionals you recommended, e.g. lawyers, insurance company, architect – informing them how we heard of them), we are now wondering if you have any tips regarding a contemplated renovation project. The renovation would involve a complete re-distribution of floor plan, adding an toilet/bath and putting in a new kitchen of a pied-à-terre in the Cuitat Vella in Barcelona (according to the escritura around 80sqm).
We have in fact already had some drawings made by Habitan (the architects you recommend) but would like to “shop around” some more and am wondering if you or anyone else may have any other suggestions/ experience of (preferably English speaking):
– reliable and experienced builders
– possibly project managers/leaders (to oversee, coordinate and report the progress of the construction – as we do not live in Spain)
Also – any comments/ experience on whether it would be a daft idea to (in a foreign country) save on costs by going “solo” on the renovation – i.e. not have architects manage and lead the renovation project.
We have successfully completed a few renovation projects in the past – with and without architects. It was cheaper without architects and we have been lucky in finding reliable and experienced builders who have done the job on time and on budget and we would like to repeat that in Spain as we already have quite clear ideas of what we want to achieve with the apartment. However we would like to avoid the pitfalls common to foreigners.
High quality finishes would be particularly valued and therefore word of mouth recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Before buying our apartment, we were shown so many “renovated” apartments that were very photogenic but obviously done cheaply and hurriedly which is something we absolutely want to avoid.
We would appreciate tips and comments on how to find the builders, how to negotiate the contract and price, what sort of hourly fee etc is common. Should the project be insured – through the builders? Also comments if anyone has completed similar refurbishing / renovation projects that have gone wrong and how to avoid such problems would be great.
September 13, 2013 at 10:02 am #118202
I´ve recently finished a renovation project in Barcelona and I’m currently half way through another. So I may be able to answer some of your questions.
You mentioned about avoiding problems, and I noted you want to re-distribute. Just a word of caution which I’m sure the architects have already covered. In the old properties you have muros de cargas (supporting walls) and tabiques (partition walls). In Ciutat Vella many of the partition walls hold a charge. Therefore they act like mini supporting walls.
Depending on where your apartment is situated, they will hold more weight. i.e. If it’s ground floor they will be supporting the floors above. It may be legally possible to remove these walls without a restructuring license but take care. In the old town all the cross beams are wood, therefore flex more after the partition walls have been removed.
You asked about insurance. The builder will have insurance which needs to be provided to you on exchange of contracts. Along with an itemised breakdown of all the costs and a planning chart with penalties for late delivery.
The architect will also hold insurance for the finished work, basically a guarantee that the work has been carried out to sufficient standards.
You asked about not using an architect – If you are thinking of a re-distribution my advise would be to definitely use an architect. The money you may save in the short, by not using one, could be spent twice or more fixing problems in the future.
September 25, 2013 at 11:53 am #118263
Thanks Mike for your reply which I only saw just now.
The points you raised and my further discussions have lead me to conclude that we will have to use an architect after all.
It seems in your case, you had used architects for design etc but then had separate contracts with the builders. When speaking to architects I was almost under the impression that they would take responsibility for the whole project. Is this common or is it more usual to engage builders and architects separately?
Our apartment is on the top floor and all the walls we want to remove are “tabique” but as you said they may still carry some load after been in place since the building was raised.
Thanks again for your help.
September 25, 2013 at 5:20 pm #118268
In answer to your question, regarding architect services, we recently used a very good guy, he is actually one step down from being a fully trained architect, but can still create plans, sigh off for town hall planning applications and is also very helpful with advice on structural changes etc..
He is based in Torroella de Montgri, but also does work out of Barcelona, and speaks very good English. If you would like his details I can forward them to you, he is a heck of a lot cheaper than the fully certified Architects we have approached before. Also, I have been in the construction business for over 20 years, 15 in the UK and 7 over here. If you would like any help with your renovation please feel free to let me know.
July 6, 2016 at 12:34 pm #191726
Regarding your question about someone who can supervise the renovation process and also speaks English, I can recommend you Luminosa Renovate Manager (http://www.luminosarealestate.com/). They are English speaking professionals who have been dealing with renovating properties for a few years now. They work in Barcelona and they supervise each stage of the renovating process personally. There is a contract agreement between you and the company which assures you that the renovating works are done properly and you pay what was agreed (in Spain it often happens that in the end you need to pay more). I would recommend you to contact them. They also have good prices.
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