When you buy newly built property in Spain, it includes mandatory insurance to allow you to make building defects claims if necessary. The insurance covers different types of defects and for varying periods of time with the maximum being 10 years for serious faults in construction.
When purchasing, it’s important to ensure the developer has included a copy of this insurance policy in your contract and title deeds. We always advise that a lawyer double-checks all the paperwork before you sign or pay anything.
Our expert team is available to advise on any aspect of building insurance and making claims for defects in your new home. Get in touch with them now.
Which categories of defects are covered by the insurance policy for new-build property?
Spanish law regulates requirements under three categories:
How long does the insurance policy cover last?
The policy is valid for different time periods depending on the type of defect as follows:
- Defects in finishes – insurance cover for 1 year.
- Defects in building elements or fittings that affect living in the property – insurance cover for 3 years.
- Structural defects – insurance cover for 10 years.
What is the definition of habitability for insurance cover purposes?
Spanish legislation includes the following concepts as part of habitability:
- Health and hygiene – you must be able to enjoy acceptable conditions of health and comfort in the building.
- Acoustic protection – insulation must be in place to ensure that when you’re in your home, you do not suffer from high levels of noise from neighbours or the exterior.
- Energy efficiency – energy saving measures including thermal insulation must be in place, both in individual homes as well as communal areas.
- Protection of the immediate environment – the building must have proper waste management systems.
- Adequate functional aspects – elements and installations in the construction must allow a satisfactory use of the building.
How far does the concept of habitability go?
Doctrine from the Spanish Supreme Court rules that habitability goes as far as ‘ruin’, which has a wide concept in law. It does not only refer to the total destruction of the building but takes on a much broader sense to include defects.
Under Spanish law, serious defects that mean the loss of the property or make it useless for its purpose entail a violation of your contract with the developer You are thereby entitled to a full refund of the property price plus legal interest.
How do I claim for habitability defects?
The injured party must prove the damage as legitimation for action against those involved in construction, who are, by law, considered responsible for the building process and therefore the defects.
If the property forms part of a community of owners, the responsibility for taking action lies with the President. A motion at a general meeting must approve the decision to claim against construction defects and the President then grants power of attorney to legal representatives.
Who do I claim against?
Depending on the type of defects, you can claim against the developer, the builder, the architect or project manager.
The first step is always to identify the cause or causing agent of the damage. In some cases, the responsibility may be clear while in others, it may be impossible to ascertain the degree of involvement of each party. In this instance, the liability is joint and several.
Are there any grounds for exemption for liability?
Yes, there are occasions when those involved in the construction are not liable for the defects. They are when the defects are caused by accident, force majeure, acts by third parties or by the owner.
How long do I have to claim?
The timeline for claims starts from the moment you become the owner of the property (i.e. sign the title deeds and receive the keys).
As we mentioned earlier, the deadline for claims depends on the type of defects.
Finishes – you have one year to claim against the developer and construction team for this type of defect.
Material damages – you have three years to claim for material damage caused in the building by defects or faults in the building elements or installations that lead to a breach in the habitability requirements outlined above.
Structural damages – you have ten years to claim for defects that directly compromise the building’s resistance and/or stability. This type of defect includes faults in foundations, supports, beams, floor structure, loadbearing walls or other structural elements.
How do I start a building defects claim?
As you might expect, developers and construction teams will do their utmost to get out paying a claim or putting right a defect. As a result, for your claim to be successful you need to present a solid case and follow the correct procedure. Our legal team has years of experience in dealing with claims for building defects and achieving a successful outcome.
If your new build home or complex has a defect you believe should be put right by the developer at no cost to you, contact our team now for advice or fill in the form below.