Construction defects in new-build homes end up spoiling the party of many new buyers, who express their discomfort in the different neighborhood forums available on the internet.
Doors that do not close, loose skirting boards, odors that seep through the switches, humidity, deficiencies in thermal insulation, leaks, noise, undersized parking spaces, home automation failures or swimming pools that leak water.
The list is endless, both within the apartments and in the common areas of the urbanizations.
In some cases they are finishing defects, but in others they affect habitability.
The number of incidents in each completed home is 35 on average, according to a report by the Building Cluster, made up of various building agents, which has analyzed 2,000 homes and has registered 70,000 incidents.
It is a very high figure, although “years ago there were many more incidents on average and more serious.
A lot of housing was produced and with less control.
Everything has changed since those years and, in general, it has changed for the better.
The developer sector and its agents have become enormously professional", points out Samuel Horche, spokesman for the Building Cluster's Post-Sales Incidents work group.
The experience of the lawyers who work on these matters is somewhat darker: "Very few developments are delivered in perfect condition, and procedures, whether judicial or extrajudicial, for construction defects in new construction are still very common," says Iván López. , founding partner of Iene Abogados and head of the Construction and Real Estate Law area.
To this is added "the lack of customer service on the part of developers and construction companies, who ignore it," says Luis Miguel Fernández, lawyer and director of the firm Aestimatio Abogados.
Complaints from buyers make no distinction and are addressed to both small and large developers.
In the neighborhood forums and among the matters carried out by the lawyers consulted, names such as Neinor Homes, Aedas Homes, Habitat, Vía Célere, Grupo Roca, among others, slip by.
“The large developers are not spared from these incidents and some are quite assiduous to the courts.
And the high
sector is not exempt either, although it is less common, given that in many cases they tend to be smaller or more exclusive promotions where more attention is paid to detail and the after-sales phase”, indicates López.
Why are new homes still being delivered with so many construction defects?
Luis Miguel Fernández is blunt: "To save costs, because the promoter subcontracts the construction, due to lack of diligence on the part of the project management and due to the absence of supervision of the work."
Iene's lawyer finishes off the argument: “There is too much of a rush to finish the work, since the delivery deadlines agreed with the buyer must be respected.
And when more innovative construction techniques are chosen, there may not be sufficient preparation on the part of the workers to execute them in a solvent manner”.
In fact, most of the failures occur in the execution phase and not so much in the project.
Without forgetting something important.
“Now, people are more demanding and less satisfied with the quality of their home.
Sources from the sector of the large developers try to differentiate themselves from the small ones.
They say that the damage claims in their case represent a minimum percentage, that the number of incidents per home is 20, that the resolution time is around 37 days, that habitability defects are dealt with in 24 or 48 hours due to their urgency
and that barely 0.1% of cases end up in a lawsuit.
They do not ignore the defects, but allude to the fact that the construction process requires the intensive use of labor.
In addition, "there is a lack of workers with adequate training to attend to the different trades, which means that the quality of the execution, on occasions, suffers," says Horche, who recalls that building a house is not the same as building a car.
For many buyers, post-sale is the most bitter part of the process.
According to the Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU), "in the purchasing process everything is good words, but after-sales service is usually totally different."
Sometimes it becomes a viacrucis of calls and emails.
"You have to be insistent in requests for repair of materials and services, always leaving a written record of what you ask for," they advise at the OCU.
Aestimatio's lawyer is in favor of sending a burofax requesting the arrangements to all agents: promoter, construction company, senior architect and technical architect.
The promoters have specific departments that respond to these demands
The problem, they say, is the rush
"Buyers expect an immediate response in resolving incidents, but first emergencies are attended to (tube breaks, humidity that prevents the use of the building, operation of critical facilities...).
Then, the reviews that affect aesthetics.
And all this takes time that does not usually coincide with the expectations or agenda of the buyers”, says Horche.
Once the keys to the new house have been delivered, buyers have legal deadlines to make a claim.
The Building Regulation Law (LOE) stipulates that the guarantee to require finishing defects is one year.
These are paint chips, failures in flooring and tiles, flashing... what can be seen with the naked eye.
"This period starts counting from the date on which the building agents sign the work reception certificate, and not from the signing of the deed," says Alejandra Parente, head of the Housing area of El Defensor de tu Living place.
That date does not appear in the deed of sale, so the client is usually unaware of it.
Something important is to ignore the letters that customers sometimes receive indicating that they have a month to claim these finishing defects.
“Only the deadlines established by law must be followed.
Those that promoters usually give are shorter deadlines that only have a persuasive nature, ”says Carmen Giménez, head lawyer at the G&G Abogados firm.
The lawyer herself bought a home from Neinor Homes in a promotion in Alcobendas in 2021 for 521,000 euros without VAT.
“Throughout 15 months, many defects have been repaired after a constant drip of emails, but there is a much more important habitability deficiency, which is noise or noise pollution, which will have to be repaired, also economically by the moral damages caused”.
For habitability defects, the legal term is three years.
And structural deficiencies (foundations, floors, load-bearing walls...) can be required for 10 years, although this type of error is in the minority, says Parente.
Then there are the prescriptive terms, which grant two years to claim from the date the defect is known.
"It can be interrupted through reliable extrajudicial requirements, in such a way that, each time we interrupt it, we gain two years again," says Fernández.
Without forgetting that the contractual responsibility of the promoter is five years from the date of purchase of the house.
"But we must not rush the deadlines, because we will start to run the risk that, rightly or wrongly, they want to impute, for example, a home maintenance deficit," says Iván López.
For promoters, after-sales “is the proof of the cotton of the entire promotion process.
We are aware that the assessment we have in resolving incidents can be improved, and we are working on it”, says Horche.
The developers state that when they receive the requests they contact the construction company and monitor the resolution.
"But in many cases the construction company ends up referring it to her insurance, which does not move a file without a sentence or without a legal proceeding in progress," says Fernández.
From the legal department of DPCON, which has managed more than 1,000 legal claims for construction defects in 30 years, they indicate that "only in 5% of cases a solution is reached without filing a lawsuit."
With the proceedings underway, and before the trial,
The OCU organization recalls that "the brochures, promotion advertising and quality reports that are delivered to us at the time of contracting have contractual value and, therefore, these materials must always be kept until after delivery and signature of the deed of purchase.
If the defects affect common areas, it is the community of owners that must request the actions, although it could also claim deficiencies in private elements together with deficiencies in common elements on behalf of the community members.
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