By Raymundo Larraín Nesbitt
Lawyer – Abogado
28th of October 2016
Snagging is an informal expression used within the construction industry which is used to describe the process of defect identification and resolution on buying off-plan properties.
It is important that you ensure that if you are buying a newly built property that the snagging is finished to your satisfaction. Before making the final payment to a developer or builder, you should ensure that your home is finished to your required specification. Normally one or two months ahead of completion, developers will give you notice to book an appointment and allow you to check the property yourself. Good developers will always carry out stringent tests themselves and use best endeavours to put everything right before legal completion.
However, even with the best will in the world, sometimes things are overlooked only to be found faulty later. Ideally the inspection should be carried out before you move in so that the developer will have time to address all the problems before you complete. The main reason for this is that lawyers can practice a retention on completion (using the funds as leverage) until any flaws or pending works detected during the snagging are carried out to your approval. If you hand over all the monies at completion you lose your leverage to have the flaws fixed. Which is exactly why it is in your best interests to hold back your cards in this game and have the withheld funds acting as an ‘incentive’ to get the job done (to your satisfaction). This allows you to maintain the upper hand on negotiating.
It should be noted that lawyers do not carry out physical inspection of properties (snagging lists); we only examine the associated legal paperwork. Which is why I always strongly advocate clients to engage the professional services of a reputable surveyor. I have badgered relentlessly in previous articles on the usefulness of hiring a chartered surveyor. In my opinion it should be mandatory when it comes to purchasing off-plan or rural property (in fact, any kind of property in Spain). Ideally, your surveyor should be a fellow of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), so you are guaranteed they work to British standards. You should know that Spanish survey reports are very different from our own.
The cost of a valuation survey will be largely offset by the problems that are picked up by a seasoned professional. This valuable report can be then used by a lawyer to know what weak points to watch out for and which are likely to give problems down the line. The lawyer will then use this insight to his client’s advantage knowing what should be negotiated and worded into a Private Purchase Contract, prior to completion, to better protect the buyer’s interests or else to practice a retention at completion and withhold funds to secure the satisfactory resolution of the spotted flaws.
Below is a list of questions that you may want to ask yourself before completing on any new-build property:
Take a record of any faults that you find and inform the developer as soon as possible, or alternatively ask your lawyer to raise any problems you find directly with the developer. Don´t forget to take a notepad and a camera, if you have one, on any snagging inspection so that you have a reliable record afterwards unless you follow my advice and hire a professional such as a chartered surveyor.
To close, and speaking strictly from personal experience alone, anecdotal evidence would seem to suggest that waterproof insulation standards in southern Spain (read against rainfall) are seriously found wanting when I compare them to their UK counterpart. I lived for five years in Edinburgh (read non-stop monsoon) and never once did I have damp patches or problems with rainfall. In southern Spain on the other hand, where rain is scant, damp patches sprouted after heavy rainfall specially in the fall. Take it from me, you may want to keep a close eye on roof insulation in Spain in new-builds.
Our law firm can provide you referrals of trustworthy chartered surveyors that work to UK standards. Ask us.
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