What is the deadline to claim against the builder, architects, etc. regarding a structure and foundation problem?

Deadline to claim for building problems in Spanish property

Question:


I have a property in Montepego with cracks and fissures problems.  I have a question about the deadline to claim for building problems. Although they were repaired, they have reopened. Recently, an expert has confirmed that it is a structural problem with the house foundations.

After long discussions with the developer and builder, they say that since its two years since the cracks appeared without me reporting it to the architects and the insurance company, I cannot legally claim against them. Is that true ?

 

Answer.

Dear reader, thank you for your enquiry.

 In principle, under Spanish Building Law ( LOE ), there are 3 warranty periods:

.- Finishing defects must appear within the first year,

.- the habitation, occupation and construction problems within 3 years,

.-and 10 years for structural defects which must affect the stability of the building.

These periods are counted from when the works were finished and legally received by the owners.

In the event of having a contractual relationship with the architects, builders, etc. . , for example if you are a self promoter who hires the services of the builder or architect directly, these deadlines and periods are different.

 If your structural problems have appeared within 10 years, according to Article 18 of the LOE, you had 2 years from when the damage is occasioned to claim against those responsible. Therefore, it would seem that they are right in what they have said.

 

Continuing Damage.

But, you must also know, that this differs in the event of continuing damage or a building pathology which is active, according to the different court orders from the Spanish Supreme Court, including the court order Number 95/2010 of 25th of  February, “It is a settled doctrine from  this Court that when in relation with continuing damage of successive and uninterrupted production , deadline to start the legal action can not start until the final outcome … because it is understood that only then, the affected person is able to assess the whole harm and value the amount to be compensated…”

Therefore, if your foundation problem is not just a single problem due to one settlement of the construction, but it is an active and continuous structural problem causing property damage, such as cracks that reopen even after being repaired, the said deadline to start the legal action of 2 years should start not from the time when the first cracks appeared, but from the moment when it was possible for you or your technical experts to know and assess the nature of the problem, its harmful consequences, etc.

Conclusion.

In any case, generally we advise in these files, that as soon as a construction problem appears, technical and specialized legal advice must be sought, all parties who took part in the building process and who could have some responsibility must be notified by registered letter, telegram or similar, as to the existence of the building defects.

 If you are in this situation or similar please contact us and we will advise you appropriately.

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 The information provided in this article is not intended to be legal advice, but merely conveys general information related to legal issues.

Carlos Baos (Lawyer)

Spanish Law firm

White & Baos 2014 – All rights reserved

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