HAVING reviewed what to think about when buying land and developing a building project in Spain, let’s look at how you can transform your plans into a reality, with the help of some leading industry professionals.
Builders? Tell me about ’em. It seems like everybody who’s ever seen one in the street has a horror story about the time they had work done. The only professional most people look (down) upon with equal loathing are estate agents. Ahem. But, if you make good choices and hire good people, building your own home doesn’t have to turn into a bad dream.
The ‘traditional’ route is for your chosen architect to recommend three, or more, reliable builders to do the job. They should put the project out to tender, get quotes, and check them carefully on your behalf. You and your architect should also revise, with a fine-tooth comb, the quality of materials in each, as these can vary widely.
When choosing a builder, common sense prevails: ask to visit recent projects and talk to previous clients. Then, select the best, in consultation with your architect, before leaving he or she, your technical architect, and your builder to get on with the build. If you make changes as things progress, costs may fluctuate but, with luck, you should end up with a finished house, on budget and on schedule.
Another option that particularly appeals to overseas clients is the ‘turnkey’ project, says Diego Suárez of Sotogrande’s Ark Arquitectos: “First, we work with the client on the design and finishings. Then, we quote a fixed price, including all the work and costs to do the job. The price is the same at the start and the end, and the client always knows exactly what it is going to cost.”
If a problem arises, Diego notes, Spanish law holds everyone involved in a build partially liable for claims, meaning it can take time and money to resolve. Turnkey builds let the client pursue a single defendant, who is responsible for the entire process. For many, that guarantee is worth any additional costs this may incur.
Also based in Sotogrande are Renson Management, a bespoke project-management firm with six decades’ international experience. They recently completed an €11 million villa, with a bespoke, glass-wall, infinity pool. Chris Warren, one of the partners, explains, “We are team leaders, serving as the client’s representative and holding their hand every step of the way, to make sure they get what they want.”
Renson put out tenders to up to six contractors, check proposals item by item, verify the schedule of works, and – as preparation is 90% of success – ensure everything goes according to their extremely detailed plan. They coordinate and supervise every aspect of the programme from grinding concrete to the project budget and materials, to deliver on time, to cost, and to the standards their demanding clients require.
“We’re here to provide peace of mind,” Chris adds, “even if the client changes theirs.”
As professionals offering value-added services, Diego and Chris need to provide something extra to stay in business, especially in these trying times, but both agree “the cheapest option is not always the best.”
In the decade I’ve run Terra Meridiana, I’ve acted for clients who are away for much of the year, helped more than one building project happen, and renovated our own home in Estepona’s old town. So, I’ve seen more than my fair share of good, and not-so-good, builders.
The one piece of advice I always share was given to me by my father: “you can have it cheap, fast, or good,” he said. “Pick two…”