Building defects and snagging

In Spain, the law holds everyone involved in a build liable for defects, but, if you self-build, snagging on completion can be worthwhile.

The 1999 Building Act (Ley de ordenación de la edificación) holds all the parties involved in the construction of a building partially responsible for any faults or damages arising from the process. Aside from other contractual obligations, all parties are liable both to owners and third-party purchasers of new buildings, and any parts thereof in the case of properties in a community. Each party involved is individually liable for their acts or omissions, and for those of any third parties for whom they are legally responsible.

The period of liability varies according to the damage in question:

  • 10 years for structural damage due to faults or defects in the foundations, supports, beams, framework, load-bearing walls, and other structural elements which directly affect mechanical resistance and stability, and render the property unfit for habitation.
  • 3 years for damage due to faults or defects in constructive elements or services which result in a failure to meet habitability requirements, causing a threat to health, hygiene or the environment.
  • 1 year for damage due to faults or defects in the finishing of the building, including, for example, peeling paint, leaking taps, windows that do not close, etc., related to sub-standard materials and workmanship.

In the case of new property that has not been self-built, it is worth bearing in mind that liability periods begin from the date of issue of the certificate of completion of construction, which may be months or even years prior to the date of sale. As a result, in some cases, the period of liability may have expired.

Upon completion of construction on a self-built property, we recommend you employ a specialized surveyor or project management company to professionally snag the build to ensure any unfinished work or imperfect finishes are resolved before you pay your final bill to the builder.

Terra Meridiana can help you find a provider of this service. Please contact us for more details.