Construction defects can be of different types and it is on the basis of these that it is known which legal regulation applies to them in particular.
The law that deals with the delimitation of this type of problem is the LOE, Ley de la Ordenación de la Edificación. It is therefore a question of new building works, extension, reform or rehabilitation works that involve a change in the building.
However, the majority of cases that come to our office are those that have their origin in construction defects in new buildings.
What is understood by a construction defect in dwellings?
A construction defect in housing refers to any irregularity that causes material damage to a building or any of its parts.
It is important to note that not all defects are identical; some are more significant than others, and the severity of these problems also influences the available warranties. The degree to which the stability of the building and the safety of its occupants is compromised will determine the extent of the period of cover provided.
If you are facing such problems with your property, a specialist lawyer can advise you on your rights and the appropriate legal steps to take to protect your interests.
There are several types of construction defects in dwellings, which fall into three main categories
These are construction faults or defects related to the execution of finishing elements in the works. They influence the appearance and presentation of the dwelling.
Defects of Habitability, Functionality or Safety (Functional Ruin):
These defects affect the safety, functionality and habitability of the building, including construction elements and installations. These defects do not meet essential requirements, such as habitability, soundproofing, energy efficiency, thermal insulation, fire safety, waterproofing, hygiene, health and environmental protection. Common examples are dampness, water seepage from the outside and other problems that affect the quality of life of the occupants.
Structural Defects (Physical Ruin):
These defects directly compromise the strength and stability of the building. They can affect elements such as foundations, supports, beams, floor slabs, load-bearing walls and other structural components. These problems can arise due to deficiencies in soil compaction, poor structural calculations or construction errors that result in subsidence, cracks, fissures and other damage that jeopardise the integrity of the building.
It is essential to identify and address construction defects in a proper and timely manner to ensure the quality and safety of the dwelling. In cases of legal problems related to these defects, a lawyer specialising in construction law can provide advice and representation to protect your rights as a homeowner.
Time limits for construction defect claims
It is essential to understand the time limits within which it is possible to bring legal claims in residential construction defect cases, as failure to comply with these time limits may limit the legal options available to you. The following are the time limits for filing claims, bearing in mind that it is vital to seek legal advice in each specific situation:
Execution Defects (1 year): These defects refer to problems of mere execution, such as broken tiles, poorly installed doors or windows that do not close properly. The deadline for claiming is one year from the reception of the work by the promoter.
Habitability, Functionality or Safety Defects (3 years): This category covers problems that affect the habitability, functionality and safety of the building, such as water leaks, lack of soundproofing, electrical or plumbing problems. You have three years from receipt of the work by the developer to file claims.
Structural Defects (10 years): Structural defects, the most serious ones that affect the foundations or the structure of the building, have a claim period of up to ten years from the reception of the work by the promoter.
It is important to remember that these periods start to run from the date of reception of the work by the developer and not from the date of purchase of the property or the constitution of the community. The prescription of these time limits can limit the ability to bring legal claims, so it is essential to seek legal advice in a timely manner. Our team of specialist lawyers is here to provide you with the necessary guidance in your specific situation.
What to do if construction defects are identified?
When defects are identified in the construction of a home, it is essential to follow a proper process to protect your legal rights. The following are the recommended steps to follow in order to avoid the statute of limitations for filing a claim:
Seek Legal Advice: The first thing you should do is seek legal advice. This is essential to understand your rights and to ensure that you do not miss the opportunity to bring a claim due to the statute of limitations.
2. Send a Burofax: In many cases, it is recommended to send a burofax to the agents involved in the construction process. This step is aimed at interrupting the statute of limitations and officially notifying the problems. Often, no response is received to these communications.
3. Obtain an Expert Report: To support your case, it is important to commission an expert report. A technical architect or higher will visit the property to assess the damage on site. This report will contain details of the defects, their nature (whether they are finish, functional or structural), how they are to be repaired and a quotation for the necessary works.
4. Assessment of the Works: The estimate provided in the expert's report will include an assessment of the works necessary to restore the home to its proper condition.
5. Basis for Legal Claim: The expert's report will serve as the fundamental basis for filing a legal claim. It will contain the specific points to be claimed and their amount. The conclusions of the report will determine the claims that may be sought in the legal process.
6. Filing the lawsuit: When filing a lawsuit, it is important to compulsorily include the agents that participated in the construction process, as established by the Ley de Ordenación de la Edificación (LOE).
This legal process can be complex, and having the support of a lawyer specialised in construction defect cases is essential to protect your interests and seek a proper resolution. Our legal team is here to provide you with the representation and advice you need in your situation. Get an appointment with a lawyer.