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Interview with Pedro Sánchez
If you could talk to a Spanish builder and ask him any question at all, what question would you ask? That was what I put to a number of English friends before interviewing Pedro Sanchez, a Torrevieja builder.
Not all builders are alike of course, and I knew that this particular one would tell me the truth about how things work in the area, even if he himself did things differently.
Pedro is the director of a small building company which specialises in tailor-made detached villas around Torrevieja and Orihuela Costa. His company, which has been in operation for 15 years, handles its own promotion and sales, as well as working with some of the smaller local estate agents. Many of the clients who buy a small house from him originally then ask him to build a larger house of their own design. About 70 per cent of his clients are English, along with Scandinavians, Dutch, Germans and other nationalities. Pedro does not spend a lot of money on publicity and does not like paying the kind of commission demanded by the large estate agents, he would rather invest that money on the quality of his building.
Why are new buildings often delayed beyond their completion date?
The real problem in this area is the lack of specialised workers. Often you have to wait for the right people to do a certain job. If you push builders to complete too quickly, they will use unqualified people and the quality of work will suffer.
Then why don’t they take that into account when giving people a date for completion?
What happens is that someone in an office sets a date without understanding the possible problems and delays a builder might actually have. The date is correct in theory, but in practice it doesn’t work like that. All sorts of things can arise especially if you sub-contract workers. Which goes back to the lack of specialised workers, such as tilers, plasterers, electricians and bricklayers. Here there is no proper training and no schools where they can be accredited. In my company, I always limit my building according to the number of people I know I have available to work for me, so that I am sure I can fulfill my completion dates. If I fell into the temptation of building more then I would have to take on more people, and I would end up joining the same vicious circle as everyone else.
Why is there no compensation when people have to wait well beyond their stated completion date?
There should be a penalisation clause in the original contract, which means that you can then take the builder to court and demand compensation. It is up to the buyer to employ a good lawyer and make sure that the contract is correct in the first place.
Why don’t builders work in August?
August is a bad month to work in because the heat is bad for the building itself, the roads get blocked and people are on holiday so they are disturbed if building work is going on. I never work in August for those reasons.
Why is the quality of some of the building so poor, like walls that aren’t straight?
This is because of the huge demand compared to the shortage of good workers. Builders take on more work than they are able to do properly, so they end up taking on unqualified people and closing their eyes to the poor quality of work. It is really up to the buyers to be demanding and to insist on their building work being done properly. The British are very nice people to work for but they are too easy-going. The Germans are much more demanding and get what they want. People should take advantage of the excellent laws that exist in Spain to protect them. Also they should make their agents work for them. The agents should be made to earn their commission.
Why are completed houses sometimes different from the plans people bought from?
Obviously sometimes there need to be changes f
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