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El blog de Maria

Your daily Spanish Law reporter. Have it with a cafe con leche.

Legal tip 230. Building defects. Part I. Different legal actions
15 February 2010 @ 09:10

The article of the General Building Act which specifies the legal action for different sorts of building defects is:


Article 17: Civil liability of the agents that intervene in the building process.


1. Despite their contractual liabilities, the individuals or companies that intervene in the building process will answer to owners and third purchasers for the entire building or for part of them, in case they have been divided, of the following material damages happened in the building within the established deadlines, counted from the reception date without reservation or from the rectifying moment:

a) For 10 years, of material damages caused in the building due to defects or vices that affect the foundations, supports, beams, floor structure, charging wall or another structural elements, that directly compromise the mechanic ressistance and the stability of the building.

b) For 3 years, of material damages caused in the building by defects or vices of the building elements or the installations that produce the breach of the habitability requirements of the provision 3,1,c.



The builder will also answer for the material damages by vices or execution defects that affect the elements of finishing of the works within a year deadline.


The habitability requirements set by this Act in artilce 3.1.c are as follow:



Article 3. Basic requirements of building.

In order to guarantee the safety of people, the welfare of society and the protection of the enviroment, buildings must be designed, built, maintained and conserved in such a way that will fulfill these basic following requirements:

The article lists a series of requirments under three different categories. We will cover those regarding habitability, as mentioned in article 17, but I can answer your questions if you want to know more on the other ones:

(a: regarding functionality)

(b: regarding safety)

(c: regarding habitability)

c.1) Higiene, health and protection of enviroment so that acceptable conditions of healthiness and comfort in the internal environment of the building and so that this won´t damage the close enviroment, guaranteeing a proper management of all kind of refuse.

c.2) Protection against noise, so that the perceived noise won´t put people´s helath at risk and will enable them to carry on their activities properly.

c.3) Saving of energy and thermal insulation, so that a rational use is made of the necessary energy for the adequate use of the building.

c.4) Any other functional aspects of the building elements or the installations that will enable a satisfying use of the building.


Prior to the entry into force of the  Building Act (6 May 2000), the material damage in the process of building (construction defect or defect) had its legal basis in art. 1591 of the Civil Code, or rather, in the extensive Supreme Court Case Law, which created the concept of accountability by serious building defect (ruina).


This accountability is produced by  any constructive vice, whose imperfections exceed the level of regular, and are, as result of difficult correction, qualified as serious.
In this regard we should mention, by way of example, the Supreme Court ruling of 4 March 1998 as an expression of the concept of ruina ( serious building deffect) that in an evolutionary way, Supreme Court Case Law has been consolidating:  


"... The concept of ruin,  is not the restrictive  one which means the total  destruction of the work, but one much broader: that of  a functional ruin which reaches either the whole building or part of it, exceding the level of just  current imperfections. The doctrine of this Court is settled: serious defects that  make possible the loss of the property or make it useless for the purpose which is proper, as well as those who, by exceeding current imperfections, entail a violation of the ontract or affect the livability of the building.




By Maria de Castro





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