What’s the real cost of setting up home and how can you save time and money?
In this article we will explain how to avoid some of the problems when buying a new property in Spain. Explain how you can start enjoying the property, and get a rental return on your investment, in the shortest time, and look at some of the many options for fixtures and furniture.
Before you complete
If you want to shorten the time between the completion of the property, and you being able to use if for family holidays or rental income, managing and understanding the snagging process is key.
The initial snagging inspection, which is normally arranged once the builder has told you that your property is ready, is vital as it will enable you to find any faults which affect the use of the property. Normally minor aesthetic defects like the ceiling or walls requires re-painting, broken tiles or poor grouting, the sink leaks; the patio is not level and doesn’t run to the drain or more serious problems like they haven’t even started to build the pool or roads around the property.
The photograph above shows properties that, according to the builder, were finished and ready to move into
Electricity and water supplies are a regular problem as they are frequently not connected when we carry out an inspection. On some sites we found the issue that, because there had not been a Certificate of Habitation issued for the property, and because the builder refused to provide builders supply utilities , that the property was not able to get water and electricity and could not be used for 4 months.
You can read more on the snagging process and typical defects in other articles published on www.eyeonspain.com but one key piece of advice is to allow for at least 10 working days between the first inspection, and completion, which allows a reasonable period for the builder to repair the faults, before you make your final payment.
Photographs show 2 typical snagging defects damp created by poor ventilation and untidy grouting on tiling
There are lots of reasons why getting the initial inspection right and the faults repaired quickly are key to an early occupancy, one being security as you can then change the locks. You can also move furniture in and not have to worry about the builders getting paint or plaster on it. You can fit lights and bathroom fittings. Our advice is that once you move in furniture all building work should be supervised as, if you have ever dealt with a Spanish builder, you will know how unreliable their time keeping is and you need to qualify if they say they are coming on Monday which Monday they mean
It’s a good idea to find a key holder or property Management Company, somebody that can supervise and let in tradesmen and deliveries and the best way to find one is to ask local people for recommendations and always take references.
Remember you don’t have to be there in person to inspect the property as you can appoint an agent to act of your behalf. This can save the expenses of flights, car hire and hotels, especially as more than 25% of properties we inspect are not ready and we have to advise the customer not to complete the purchase.
Get it in writing
With experience of inspecting more than 800 new properties in Spain the InspectaHomeSpain offering has developed into a lot more than the basic snagging inspection service as we regularly have to deal with indignant customers who are ready to sue a builder because there are no light fittings, shower cubical, shelf and hanging rail in the wardrobe, or even a kitchen fitted in their new property.
Normally the agent won’t be around at completion and will have left things to the builder to explain. The first time a buyer is normally allowed in the property is on the day of completion. They normally have only seen a nicely dressed show house or often just a set of plans.
OK there are regular incidents where the builder has failed to provide the white goods or everything on the property specification and, luckily we have found this on the snagging inspection, but more often the buyer has not read the sales contract or specification.
This kitchen in the photograph, according to the sales contract, should have been fitted with a sink and taps, fridge freezer, oven, hob, and washing machine. The builder’s response, we fit them on completion, but spoke to owner’s onsite still waiting for them, 6 weeks after completion.
The facts are if an item is not listed in the sales contract and specification documents, it is not included with the property, and with some developers this includes a kitchen light fittings and a shower cubical, all items that you would get as standard in the UK. Pre-installation for air-conditioning means that they will install the ducts and cabling but the units are not included. Make sure that you check the property specification very carefully, before you sign the initial sales contract, and don’t assume that things will be the same as buying a property in the UK
What can happen if you try to move in immediately
The buyer is excited and keen to move in and expects it to be the same as the UK. Expects to sign at The Notary and immediately move in, and has probably ordered furniture that’s being delivered the same day, or it’s arriving from the UK. The white goods and the electrician arranged for lights to be fitted. If you’re well informed you will have arranged for the locks to be changed. a sensible thing to do as statistics show that 30% or all break-ins happen on new urbanisations within the first month of the owner moving in.
The photograph demonstrates people having to move into a property on a site they believed was completed
The property will have had a builders clean and will still be dirty with paint and grout on surfaces, dirt hiding under the kitchen units and will require a through clean before you move in your furniture or your family
You can see a real example of a builders clean in the photograph
The snagging defects may not have been repaired, you may have leaking pipes, have areas requiring re-tiling, or re-painting, do you really want them working around your new furniture?
Well if you’re on builders supply you will have power and water, although you should be careful and these are temporary supplies and the voltage can spike and damage appliances and supplies can go off without notice. If you are contracting for by main suppliers you cannot contract until you own the property and there are no guarantees on how long this will take for these to be connected. Again we have lots of examples of families having to stay in properties without power or water because they hadn’t accounted for this and for the first day or so candlelight dining is a novelty which soon wares off.
The photograph shows an example of a builders supply with a junction box next to the children’s pool
Furniture, Fixtures and fittings
Spain has a fantastic selection of furniture and if you are buying in Costa Blanca, Murcia regions is that you can now go off to IKEA in Murcia and. If they have it in stock, take it away. One option is to visit the big DIY outlets like Leroy Merlin, AKI and BricoHouse buy your lights, mirrors and shower cubicles and find a local tradesman to fit them, but don’t ignore your local DIY shop, ferreteria in Spanish, as they often speak English, have good local knowledge e.g. what wall plugs to use, and will have good contacts with local tradesman. For the service you get it can be worth it as they are not much more expensive than the DIY chains and their prices for shower cubicles often include fitting. Specialised lighting stores will typically charge €5 - €6 to fit a light that you buy from them and fit them within 48 hours
There is a vast selection of furniture shops but, most don’t supply from stock and it can take 6 – 8 weeks to supply. You should come over on a shopping trip in advance of completion, measure up your rooms, and order your furniture. Most shops only ask for a deposit and will store items free of charge, and buying items individually can often work out less expensive that furniture pack, and give you more choice. In Spain for any purchase cash is king and you should always ask for a cash discount.
Furniture and electrical shops in Spain will, as part of their normal service, unpack and assemble furniture, install washing machines TV’s and fridge freezers but charge extra to fit ovens and hobs. If you want to make life easy a furniture pack is a great option as everything is provided and fitted including white goods, bedding and even a corkscrew but you should inspect all of the items as you would the property.
Used furniture is also an option which should be considered, especially if you are buying to rent. The fact is this furniture may not be very old and, because it’s only used for holidays, practically unused. People don’t appreciate that when you buy a re-sale property furniture will be included and, as it may not be to the new owners taste; large amount good quality used furniture is available from specialised shops such as New 2 You in Torrevieja. One investor we work with that has 30 properties explained that, with the exception of beds, he uses all second-hand furniture and reckons he saves 70% on normal new furniture prices and make the point that if it gets damaged it’s inexpensive to replace
Most properties will include a boiler, cooker and hob but people often don’t budget for all of the items necessary to make life comfortable for owner or renter including Fridge Freezer, Kettle, Iron, Toaster, TV, DVD, Stereo and the most common item forgotten, heaters, because it does get cold in Spain in the Winter. Don’t be fooled in believing that a single hot and cold air-conditioning unit installed in the lounge will heat the whole property so budget for more heaters.
The normal mistake made is to dash off to the local hypermarket, load up the trolley with everything you need and pay little attention to quality or even cost of items. Doing a little research, looking at websites before you arrive can save you time and money
Unfortunately you won’t find a Comet or Curry’s on every corner but there is a chain Media Markt website www.mediamarkt.es that provides a good range of quality known brands, all under one roof, and they don’t charge for delivery. Other good sources are normally hypermarkets like Carrefour and Eroski and retail chains such as Miro or Master but shop around first to save money.
Don’t forget those all important extension leads and, if you are on builders supplies you can get power surge protection built into the extension leads
Security and Insurance
It’s important to protect your investment and crime prevention is always best so, if you make your property more difficult to get into, chances are the burglar will choose another target. Remember that your property may be empty for long periods each and 30% of all break-ins happen on new urbanisations within the first month of the owner moving in so make sure you budget for additional locks, grills and potentially an alarm, a safe plus of course is good contents insurance.
Security should be in place from day one and the first rule is always change the locks before you move in any furniture, and change all of the locks, not just the font door as keys can be copied and just think how many people have had access to your keys prior to your completion
In Spain an increasing number of builders are recognising the security issues and are now fitting grills and alarms as standard, however, on houses there are normally only grills on the ground floor. I assume that this is because Spanish builders believe burglars can’t climb, but on a serious note, again check the specification and if grills are included it can be cheaper to get them fitted as the property is being built plus all of the grills will match.
This photograph is a good example of a new property with good security at ground level but with no grills fitted on the 1st floor
Builders that include alarms will normally be tied into a specific company who provided a monitored system using technology similar to a mobile phone and from which you can call for emergency assistance but they will charge a high monitoring and maintenance fee, but they provide a good response service. The wireless solar type systems that you can buy from DIY shops like B and Q act as a good deterrent are low cost, simple to install, require little maintenance and can be supplied and fitted by lots of companies in Spain
Install safe and additional locks on patio doors, windows and if you have the roller type sun blinds you can get locks that secure them closed for around €10 per blind
One innovation has been the PIR and light sensing external lanterns where there’s more choice now than the original 500w type floodlight. Theses are now available in all shapes and colours and, if you want to convert an existing lantern you can buy, for around €17, a bulb with a built in day night photo sensor.
If you need more information on any item highlighted in this article you can contact on via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or on the numbers listed below