When you buy a newly built property in Spain, you have certain consumer rights to building and construction guarantees, similar to the NHBC Buildmark warranty in the UK.
These rights come from protection laws (Responsibility for construction faults: Article 1.591 of the Civil Code and statute 38/1.999 of November 5.) that apply when buying newly built property from a developer.
The law specifies different timeframes in which a developer is obliged to intervene at no cost to the buyer to correct faults or indemnify the buyer for any damages caused. The type of construction fault determines the timeframe.
10 YEAR CONSTRUCTION WARRANTY
Known is Spanish as the Seguro Decenal, this building guarantee covers serious structural faults that affect construction elements such as the foundations or retaining walls for the first 10 years after building completion. Consumer protection laws entitle you to this guarantee at no extra cost to you (the developer pays for it).
This guarantee is basically an insurance policy with an insurance company, not your developer or builder. If you have serious structural problems within 10 years of construction you will have to contact the insurance company, who will send an inspector. If they agree that you have structural problems covered by your guarantee they will cover the costs of correcting the problem. If they don’t agree, you will have to take them to court or pay for the work yourself.
When you buy a new home from a developer, this is one of the key documents you want to receive when you complete, and obviously don’t complete without it. When you buy a resale property built within the last 10 years you will need to get this document from the vendor.
3 YEAR WARRANTY
Less serious structural faults that nevertheless render the property or parts of the property uninhabitable, for instance leaking roofs.
By law, the companies and professionals involved in building the property are obliged to correct these kind of faults. ‘Honourable’ and highly professional companies will meet their obligations, but such companies are in short supply. In reality, many owners find it difficult to get promoters and builders to take responsibility. You may have to use a lawyer to force compliance, which involves paying for a survey, getting the results notarised, then having a writ issued against anyone you can claim against, such as the promoter, builder, or architect. This will cost several thousand Euros, perhaps much more, and could take more than a year. It may be cheaper, and will certainly be quicker, if you take it on the chin and pay for the work yourself.
1 YEAR – SNAGGING
Minor problems with the fixtures and finishings such as cracks in plaster or badly fitted windows.
By law, your developer is obliged to correct these kind of faults. ‘Honourable’ and highly professional developers will meet their obligations, but as I have already said, such companies are in short supply. The best thing to do is never complete until you are satisfied that snagging has been done, but that is easier said than done. It all depends upon the quality and professionalism of your developer.
Buyers of resale properties from private individuals are almost entirely responsible for checking the physical status of the property before they buy.
For more detailed information see Off-Plan construction flaws: know your rights