Obtaining a good bargain when buying a new home is a quite a job. Whether it is for purchase or rent, it requires the investment of time and some reflection, including calls visits and revisits.
To this we have to add a number of decisions that must be taken. That's why, when you visit the one that can finally be your definitive home, it could be love at first site and it's easy to get carried away by the first impression and not pay attention to details.
That is why I have elaborated this list below so that at least you can review those essentials points to make a good decision and not be carried away only by the "love at first site syndrome".
1. Orientation and its importance
The orientation of a building is not as important as you may think. It is the relationship between its layout and its orientation what matters. All newly landed Brits here in Spain will gravitate towards a South facing living area with lots of sun, luminosity etc. But you and I know that with the exception of say three months a year December, January and perhaps Feb or November. It is better to live on a North facing area and not mentioning those months of July August when temperature reaches 40º and beyond. Those who wants direct sun can always find a sunny spot to get scolded. I am obviously talking about a property located in the East Coast of Spain, clearly a house in North of Spain the rules are the opposite.
In a house with the living room and day living area facing north, you may need to heat up those areas up to two months more than in a south facing, and with the same characteristics, since it is colder. This can mean a saving of 25% on the heating bill.
The east-west orientation is also relevant, since the first will have more light in the morning and the second in the afternoon. The best thing is to have a floor plan of the house to know in which direction each room is oriented.
2. Noise, insulation
The sound insulation in newly built properties in Spain has nothing to do with the standards used in in properties before 2007. However, the environment where the house is situated will have an impact on the noise heard inside independently of how well the joinery is insulated. The activity of the area, and its proximity to roads with traffic, neighbours etc will have a greater impact for one simple reason, in Spain we tend to have windows and doers open because of the weather, so the quality of the joinery will not have any impact to stop noise if they are open. Therefore, it is recommended to observe the noise level with both the open and closed windows. And, if possible, visit the house at different times of the day.
3. Thermal Insulation
Similarly, with point 2 above. The thermal insulation in newly built properties in Spain has nothing to do with the standards used in in properties before 2007. New regulations will undertake in the year 2020 to have houses where it will be needed 0 Kw to heat or cool the house. No non-renewable energy will be used in properties built from 2020 onwards and those properties built around 2017 onwards will require very little energy, however, old properties are different and an energy certificate must be obtained before you buy the property.
To maintain a proper temperature inside, it is essential that the house is well insulated. Doors and windows are the weakest link here, so a good look at the joinery to verify that there are in good condition is a must.
A EPC Energy Performance Certificate must be obtained which incidentally they are called in Spanish “Certificado de Eficiencia Energética” (CEE) Energy Efficiency Certificate.
It should always be published and access to it is your right. It is carried out by competent technicians Architects and building engineers. Specifies the level of thermal insulation and energy consumption of each home or building.
4. Electrical system
I always recommend to have a survey done before you make the biggest investment of your life.
Reviewing the electricity is one of those requisites that an architect or building engineer may help you with. It is easy to get an idea of by inspecting the electrical panel: A new home has at least five different independent circuits with its correspondent automatic switch, a main general cut off switch. If you have less than that, it is better to review it, Switches and plugs can give another clue. Some are very old, which indicates that there has not been a recent reform. In addition, it is important to check that there are enough plugs.
5. The plumbing system.
I strongly recommend to have an architect to do a survey before you make a very large investment. However, if you opt to obviate this fact and decided to do it yourself, do check all taps on the house.
In fact, it would be ideal to try all taps and make sure that the water, both hot and cold, has enough pressure to avoid surprises later on.
It is convenient to examine, in addition, the drainage system. Check rain water collectors that it is not cover with dirt and even worse see that is not blocked. We do have here the “Gota Fría” If you don´t know what it is Google it and you will be surprised. It is important to check whether there is a water meter installed outside the house similarly with electric meter. It is worth to leave a water tap running and a few lights on and check that both meters do tick over.
6. Air conditioning and heating
An efficient air conditioning system will save a lot on bills. In addition, being able to get an adequate temperature is essential in a home. If the house has a heating system, the first thing is to know is what type of fuel it uses (gas, electric, with boiler and water radiators, etc.). Do notice please that electricity bills are very expensive in Spain, so to use it without having solar panels to heat your home is a mistake that will cost you a fortune in the long run. Gas, is cheaper even if you have to use the old gas bottle.
Air conditioning is a must on the Coast in the months of summer, so if the house does not have it, you should make allowances to install a good system. If it does is the appliance in good condition? What Energy rating does it have? If the rating is not an “A” at least do, consider a change of system.
The type of materials with which the house is built clearly will have an impact on the aesthetics. Again here if it is a newly built home the guarantee that it will meet the insulation and energy efficiency is quite high but, in addition, is not the same to have a marble floor finish in Coast to have it in North Spain the influence of those materials on the feel of the place and the impact that those material will have on you, will be noticeable. Wooden floors and ceilings are warmer, while materials such as tiles or stones are more predisposed to give you the feeling of cool rooms. It is important to pay attention to them, especially in spaces such as living rooms, where we spend many hours a day.
8. The importance of the exterior of the building
If you house or flat forms part of a building or an urbanization, we can obtain a lot of information from the façade or the exterior of the building regarding its maintenance or lack of it.
The same happens with common areas such as the staircase or the lobby. If a building housing does not have a lift, it is a good idea to ask if they are planning to add it, because it may imply a future payment. If it is a house with outdoor spaces, also check that everything is in good order: walls, gardens, security or garage, among others.
9. The neighborhood and its importance
No one can miss the neighborhood before making the purchase. Specially on the day-to-day requirements. Although this depends on different priorities, the main thing is to have parking area, supermarkets, proximity to public transport stops and medical services, etc. It is equally important to pay attention to safety and specially noise by checking in different seasons. An extremely peaceful area in winter it can turn into hell in mid-summer!!!
10. Other items
Also if you flat or house forms part of a building do check the IEE (Building Assessment Report) and the ITE (Technical Building Inspection, necessary for buildings over 50 years old). Failure to comply can lead to very strict penalties and even fines to the community of owners and therefore you. So, it is very important to be aware of whether a building needs an inspection before acquiring it.