July 1st 2012 saw the introduction, in Spain of the ITE (Inspeccíon Técnica de Edificios) which is the technical inspection of buildings (in English.)
It’s an MOT for houses of a certain age. Should such a scheme be introduced here in the UK?
It is legislation that has been introduced in a bid to clean up the rather bad image of houses in Spain, from both a quality point of view, and as a protection to the home-owner.
In reality, much of it is focussed on trying to kick start their housing market, which due to poor quality, over supply, and lack of rigour in planning, has seen the housing market there slump, along with massive falls in what were already ridiculously high prices for poor quality homes.
There is already a scheme in the UK that has been in place for many years, via the NHBC who offered guarantees on all new homes for 10 years, however the Spanish version takes this much further and will become law affecting all homes over a certain age, some suggesting between 20 and 50 years old.
This will be applied to all buildings not just houses, so one can include blocks of flats in the equation too, putting extreme pressure on developers, although to be honest, some of the poor quality buildings I myself have seen in Spain, this should be something that is welcomed and should, in theory, bring at least some confidence back to the housing market, although the positive effects will probably take years to come to fruition.
An MOT for a house?
An MOT for your house.
In looking at the new Spanish regulations it would appear that older houses will have to have periodic inspections, just like a car, and done by qualified surveyors and architects.
Of course these people are not cheap to hire, so this will be an added expense to the already cash tight home owner, and one that many people will probably complain about, or deem it irrelevant and intrusive. An MOT for a house is a good idea though.
Spanish surveyors are suggesting 10 year periodic inspections, which seems fair.
The inspection will look at the general condition of the building, and would of course focus on cracks, the quality and waterproofing of the walls, the condition and water tightness of the roof, and of course the condition of the various services to the house, such as sewerage, mains water, gas and electric.
Other things that will be looked at will be the condition of the exterior walls and how well they repel the weather. Evidence of cracks and hollow render will certainly go against the house if they are found to be defective. The similarities to the now defunct HIPS home information packs are uncanny, and look what happened to them!
Up to our HIPS!
The UK were HIP to this, but only for a short while.
Yes, the dreaded HIPS or home information packs in the UK were widely derided as being an unnecessary expense and many surveyors and home owners did not like them although they at last did contain some useful information, however the new government in 2010 abolished them, much to the chagrin of the previous labour administration who did admittedly not plan them well and spent hundred of millions of pounds implementing them to no avail.
Only the energy efficiency part has been retained, although how much this is kept in law in debatable. Of course the Spanish MOT for houses will also look at how energy efficient the house is, but due to the very poor quality of many older homes in Spain, especially ones that do not have insulation, how many of these homes will fail this test, and what sanctions if any will ensue, is open to debate.
Spain is a strange place and laws can come and go at will, especially as the country is divided into autonomous regions (eg communidad Valencia, the basque country, etc etc) and all implement laws differently, adding to the confusion.
So should this be adopted in the United Kingdom?
We have seen in the text above, the possible pitfalls that could happen when this is implemented in Spain, and based on the fact that generally homes and buildings in the UK are of a higher build quality than many places in Europe, plus coupled with the failure of the HIPS scheme, I am not sure, in my own professional opinion, that this is a good thing and should be brought into UK law too.
The scheme will generate much more paperwork and bureaucracy, something Spain is very good at (!), and would ultimately slow down the process of buying and selling houses.
The UK has in general better planning laws, less openly corrupt councils and planning authorities and an established building code which has been in place for many years.
Best leave the MOT’s for the car!
If you fancy an “informal” MOT type inspection of your home, especially if you are considering selling, then it is a requirement in most cases to have your home inspected in the UK by a qualified building surveyor, however if you are planning on having some improvements done, then contact the team at NEVER PAINT AGAIN who can arrange for your house exterior to be surveyed for FREE.