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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm considering a move to Spain but looking for some info on how good the quality of house, Villa builds etc are and what should be avoided!

One thing I didn't like when I visited a few years back were the (hollow bricks)!
They seem so light and not up to much! Am I right?

Obviously Spain has the odd tremor and there have been some big ones in the past that would probably level most buildings. What I would like to know, as this country is more at risk of earthquakes/tremors than the UK etc are the building regulations better to compensate and when was this enforced?

Looking at the Haiti quake I believe it was almost the same as the San Francisco quake of 1989 .1 less. so I'm worried about how well built Spanish property is and how they will stand up to a big quake!
From some news I've read about Haiti, the roofs were a major reason for failure because of there design.

So when I start looking around I might at the very least avoid some pitfalls and hopefully buy something that will have a better chance to stand the test of time!
Obviously I will get a survey before I part with my cash but I would like to know the the surveyor is adhering to up to date building regs etc!!
 

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Well I know they still use the hollow bricks and they seem to be withstanding! The build quality IMO isnt brilliant over here, they certainly dont have the same regs as in the UK, that said they dont seem to fall down very often, well not because of earth quakes, the heavy rain can cause landslides which can be a problem tho (sadly theres a thread just been posted on here entitled "landslide")???? In general properties here are not built for the cold tho. They rarely have central heating, insulation or damp courses!

Thats about the extent of my knowledge I'm afraid

Jo xxx
 

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I'm considering a move to Spain but looking for some info on how good the quality of house, Villa builds etc are and what should be avoided!

One thing I didn't like when I visited a few years back were the (hollow bricks)!
They seem so light and not up to much! Am I right?

Obviously Spain has the odd tremor and there have been some big ones in the past that would probably level most buildings. What I would like to know, as this country is more at risk of earthquakes/tremors than the UK etc are the building regulations better to compensate and when was this enforced?

Looking at the Haiti quake I believe it was almost the same as the San Francisco quake of 1989 .1 less. so I'm worried about how well built Spanish property is and how they will stand up to a big quake!
From some news I've read about Haiti, the roofs were a major reason for failure because of there design.

So when I start looking around I might at the very least avoid some pitfalls and hopefully buy something that will have a better chance to stand the test of time!
Obviously I will get a survey before I part with my cash but I would like to know the the surveyor is adhering to up to date building regs etc!!
In my working days, I have been a licensed Building Contractor, and a Building Inspector. Spain's building would come under the International Building Code. The IBC sets minimum standards. Each area is addressed in terms of earthquakes, wind loads, snow loads, etc etc. The problem , of course, lies in the fact that MANY builders do not bother with building permits and inspections.

If a building was constructed according to the law, all of the construction AND required inspections will be on file at the Building Department (whatever the equivalent is) in Spain. These will be available to you to look at.
 

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Yes, they do use the hollow bricks, 'ladrillos' they are called & they are actually thermally efficient . It's just that alot of developers use only the smaller width 10/12cm ones & not the thicker 30cm ones (which can now been found used in the UK due to their high thermal efficiency.Check the thickness of the external walls,many smaller developers do construct a cavity wall with insulation between or use the 30cm ones. If you only have a small recess where the windows are fitted it's single ladrillos.

Earthquakes & will they fall down, the answer is no. Spain is ( or was :D ) the largest user of reinforced concrete in western europe, all buildings are required to be constructed by means of reinforced concrete & huge amounts of steel reinforcing, from the foundations to the roof. This is basically the same method that is used in Greece & between the supports the ladrillo walls are carrying no weight whatsoever. In the event of an earthquake the house might suffer cracking , wall separation, outer cement rendering falling off but the concrete structure will maintain it's integrity. In 2004/5 , here North of Lorca there where many badly damaged houses but the new ones ,built with the reinforced concrete method only suffered superficial damage. In addition the concrete mix is specified by the architect to take into account the size of house, no. of floors, span ,etc. The mix supplied by the ready-mix companies is tested & samples of each batch have to be kept. Another point worth noting if you are viewing a house with an under build is that a decent builder will always construct these exactly the same way ( they all do round here ) reinforced concrete foundations at least 4m down continuing into shuttered reinforced walls up out of the ground to ground floor level. these walls on the outside are then bitumen coated. It's just that I have seen quite a few around alicante region where they come up from the foundations with pillars to grd. flr. level & infill with blocks.
 

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Life is too short to worry about earthquakes. Seriously, I think the last time Spain had a serious earthquake was in 1950's.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well I know they still use the hollow bricks and they seem to be withstanding! The build quality IMO isnt brilliant over here,

Jo xxx
Thanx Jo, yeah I remember knocking down a chimney for a friend and having a bit of fun punching holes in them (with gloves on) :) I guess as long as they're not part of the main supporting structure I can live with them! (maybe)!

In my working days, I have been a licensed Building Contractor, and a Building Inspector. Spain's building would come under the International Building Code. The IBC sets minimum standards. Each area is addressed in terms of earthquakes, wind loads, snow loads, etc etc. The problem , of course, lies in the fact that MANY builders do not bother with building permits and inspections.

If a building was constructed according to the law, all of the construction AND required inspections will be on file at the Building Department (whatever the equivalent is) in Spain. These will be available to you to look at.

Hi Maddalena
So I assume there are different levels/quality of build, it is possible you could point me to some online documentation for this?
What I would like to see is something like; Roof built to standard A, Building will withstand 7.1 magnatude etc etc or maybe it's not as simple as the way I'm thinking, life usually isn't ;)
Well I would hope the agents have some info on how legal and has the house been inspected and approved ok etc!
Oh ok, just reading down a bit, so I would have to go to the Building Dept and find out for myself? So what are the agents doing for their cut then? :D


Yes, they do use the hollow bricks, 'ladrillos' they are called & they are actually thermally efficient . It's just that alot of developers use only the smaller width 10/12cm ones & not the thicker 30cm ones (which can now been found used in the UK due to their high thermal efficiency.Check the thickness of the external walls,many smaller developers do construct a cavity wall with insulation between or use the 30cm ones. If you only have a small recess where the windows are fitted it's single ladrillos.

Earthquakes & will they fall down, the answer is no. Spain is ( or was :D ) the largest user of reinforced concrete in western europe, all buildings are required to be constructed by means of reinforced concrete & huge amounts of steel reinforcing, from the foundations to the roof. This is basically the same method that is used in Greece & between the supports the ladrillo walls are carrying no weight whatsoever. In the event of an earthquake the house might suffer cracking , wall separation, outer cement rendering falling off but the concrete structure will maintain it's integrity. In 2004/5 , here North of Lorca there where many badly damaged houses but the new ones ,built with the reinforced concrete method only suffered superficial damage. In addition the concrete mix is specified by the architect to take into account the size of house, no. of floors, span ,etc. The mix supplied by the ready-mix companies is tested & samples of each batch have to be kept. Another point worth noting if you are viewing a house with an under build is that a decent builder will always construct these exactly the same way ( they all do round here ) reinforced concrete foundations at least 4m down continuing into shuttered reinforced walls up out of the ground to ground floor level. these walls on the outside are then bitumen coated. It's just that I have seen quite a few around alicante region where they come up from the foundations with pillars to grd. flr. level & infill with blocks.
Hi gus
So are you saying they use the 10 to 12cm type but they shouldn't! Or 30cm type is preffered! I've seen the small type but not the 30cm type, the small ones were being used for an internal wall partition and inter-grill glass wall etc but I don't think I would want a place with these for an outside wall!
So I'm looking for a large recess to be sure 30cm type have been used then!?

Thanx for the info on the construction details, didn't know the wall were not load-bearing! Sounds like you might have made a few Euros over the years on cement lol :D
What is the a date when buildings had to adhere to the new building regs? Just would like to avoid even looking at property that doesn't meet criteria! But I guess many have also been built to these standards long before it was enforced anyway!!
As far as "reinforced concrete foundations at least 4m down"
What happens with property on the mountains! (solid rock) I remember some years back standing in a friends garden giving directions to a Spanish guy with a JCB where to dig a hole for a new cesspit/tank to be installed. He spoke no English and me no Spanish lol:confused2: but we managed..
It took around 4 hours maybe more to dig out a not very big hole because below 3ft of soil (at the most) it was solid rock. He had to keep changing the shuvel over for a spike to dig into the rock, sparks flying etc, So apart from levelling would you still need such a deep foundation in this scenario?
Why "walls on the outside are then bitumen coated"?
I assume to prevent damp!
Sorry for all the stupid questions, but I know little to nothing about building construction and with all the nightmare stories that they like to show on TV I'm probably over worrying!!
Thanx for all the detailed info, much appreciated.


Life is too short to worry about earthquakes. Seriously, I think the last time Spain had a serious earthquake was in 1950's.
Hi ars338
Well life could also be a lot shorter not worrying about them at all :tongue1:
It just seems to be better to buy something you have a better chance walking out of rather than being dug out of (if you're lucky)!!
 

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The one thing I will say is that in the absence of earth quakes. The climate and weather conditions are quite harsh on buildings here. Strong winds, ice, very heavy rain leading to landslides and obviously the very hot sun. I often wonder how british buildings would stand up to all this?? I once lived in a brand new property over there and in the first two years we had sooooo many problems with some pretty serious settlement cracks, shrinkage and swelling, bits falling off here and there..... the building company blamed the climate there - well the extremes here are much greater IMO - we got compensation tho!

Jo xxx
 

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Hi muddy, this is a thermal ladrillo ( also in sizes @ 38cm. ). As you can see the web thickness is alot thicker than the lightweight ones.

Guide to efficient use - Insulation - Step by step guide

It also give you the 'u' value for thermal eff., used with & without insulation.Sorry it's in Spanish, I've not found how to change it in to english yet.

Re; using the lightweight ones, no it's not illegal just cheaper & as the weather is not normally cold for very long they don't feel the need to use them.

Re; building regs, no idea but it's 40 years +. The house regs, apparently, stem from the building of apartment blocks many years ago when there was no work in the countryside & the population migrated to the larger towns , so fuelling a need for aparts., built to withstand earthquakes. The Spanish, by the way , are the largest apartment dwellers in europe , they still like to live on top of their jobs & bars, restaurants etc; for after work. Most on fridays decamp to the 'campo' where they normally have an old house as well.
Re: Building on rock, normally they use a 25/40tonne ,tracked excavator with a 5tonne 'pecker' on it & if like me , you have been unfortunate enough to have to work near to where one is operating , by the end of the day you've lost the will to live. Yes they have to go down into the rock as a req. of the regs. is that the underbuild (basement ) window cill is a max. of 20cm to the o/side finished floor level. So if they can't get down far enough then they have to bring the o/side ground up!

Why "walls on the outside are then bitumen coated"?
I assume to prevent damp! Yes, what they actually do here is the damp proof membrane that the basement & outer walls sit's on is taken out to the sides, the finished r.c.walls are then bitumen coated & the plastic is stuck to this up to ground level. Some then re-coat the plastic with bitumen before back filling.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanx Jo
Yeah some of the UK new builds might not take the strain if they were over in Spain! Mine is an older post war type and is as solid as the day it was built.
I want to live on the mountain, not way up there lol :plane: but I guess it would be wise not to live anywhere too steep otherwise risk of getting swamped during heavy rain!

Thanx Gus

Yes this type looks a lot stronger, after seeing this type I will want to avoid the thinner version hopefully if its been used for an external wall.
I plan on getting a little place away from it all so to speak, around 800m up so I know it can get very cold so will be checking for the bigger thermal ladrillo :eyebrows:
"40 years +. The house regs, " That's gr8 to hear.
Interesting, didn't know that Spanish being No.1 in Europe for apartments. Makes good sense really being close to work and play!
I was near that JCB for a couple of hours ish and that was enough for me...! had ear plugs in but didn't help much :eek:
Thanx for info on regs again, I sort of assumed solid rock would have been fine... Just goes to show it always best to check check check the details!

Loads of detailed info in your reply, big thanx m8 :clap2:

Thanx Taurian
Translation sites have been around for years, you can actually use any browser, I use FireFox. If anyone needs to translate either text or webpage try this link from Google. Google Translate
This page also has a file upload option but I wouldn't use to translate anything important as you cann't make the page run in secure mode http(s) etc!
Very useful tho as it supports multiple languages!
 
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