A brief personal CV followed by the Golden Rule Handbook of plot purchase and building in Spain.
At school I always enjoyed Technical Drawing and when I left in 1979 at the age of 16, with a Grade A O Level, I went to serve my time at W.H. Shaws and Sons in Diggle, Oldham as a Maintenance Fitter and also attended, on day/block release Oldham College for 5 years where I passed my City and Guilds Certificates in Mechanical Engineering. I eventually left the UK in 1985 due to the recession in engineering in the Manchester area and the mass redundancies that were taking place at that time.
I was the last in, so I was the first out.
Timber Frame in Spain started manufacturing in 1989 by designing and producing bird tables, bird houses and garden benches for several gardening centres in Spain from it’s workshop based in Santander. This led onto several big projects through a local furniture dealer where we branched out into bespoke household furniture manufacturing and fitting.
Then one night out I met 3 Americans who were erecting a Timber Frame structure on the outskirts of Santander but were very confused as they spoke no Spanish so I left them my number and the day after the Spanish Company Director rang me up. I was on site 2 days later as an employee.
The Americans came and went and I carried on eventually becoming an unofficial site manager and so started training installers in Spanish and from then on I was never out of work and eventually went self employed in 1995.
From then until the end of 2008 I was in full time employment not only with new builds but period restorations with a system we developed which involved the building of a Timber Frame shell inside the 4 walls of an old house. As can be seen in La Quinta Mentira. slide presentation.
Through these years I unofficially project managed many builds and also started up contact with UK based suppliers as Spanish or American Timber Frame supply companies could not compete with the guarantees that UK firms came up with in Europe.
Regular trips to Trade Shows in the UK led me to companies that we still have involvement with to this day.
Part of this new trade in Project Management was sourcing local installers and builders to work on the houses. There were 100’s of these people who received training and supervision at all times and sometimes this involved 9 house multi- builds that we took 1 year to complete from start to finish foundations included.
A record build start – finish time in Spain as far as I am aware.
Over 2,500 squares meters of living space that works out at 1 house per month finished even though they all were terminated at the end of the year it was a guaranteed regular payment trigger clause for the building company and a very fast one.
During one of these builds I started to become very interactive with the clients and this opened up a whole new window in the full build process. These people were not happy with certain aspects and I personally, and very politely, went out of my way to sort it out. They respected this and came back for more advice.
Direct client orientation was born from material source to build termination.
After 2008 the recession really set in and it hit the construction industry more than any other. Millions of people became unemployed and companies shut up shop left, right and centre.
Yet here we still are, along with our trusted suppliers and services.
Nitty Gritty Time.
Now the next part is about my personal experiences in the building trade in Spain. Some of it may sound off putting but you have to be prepared for the reality of Spanish bureaucracy and business practises.
The building trade is no exception.
GOLDEN RULE NUMBER 1.
Nobody in Spain is responsible for anything that’s why there’s always so much finger pointing going on in this country and is probably the main cause of the state of the nation.
You as a client must become the responsible person because if you aren’t nobody else is or will ever be. Combine this with the fact that every single person you meet on the way from buying land to building and finishing a house will try and pull the wool over your eyes means you’re in for a rough ride. You have to take command that way you are ensured of peace of mind and all decisions can go ahead with a fixed costing previously agreed on.
That you can be sure of.
They will smile, you smile back and you’ll think how nice everybody is until you have to foot the bill for a badly organised and costly service that nobody will ever claim responsibility for and you have no possibility of appealing against.
Doors will mysteriously close in your face and of course nobody is smiling any more. People don’t answer your phone calls or answer emails.
Now you are really stuck and have run out of luck which will probably mean you will have to get your cheque book out. Never a good sign.
GOLDEN RULE NUMBER 2.
So how do you become the responsible person. By dealing with tried and tested contacts through us with 100% guarantees that you are getting what you want at a controlled price and everything officially translated into English.
You are already in command unless you sign a document that you don’t understand which can only be translated as the start of massive and accumulating cost problems, or not.
GOLDEN RULE NUMBER 3.
Get an English speaking and Spanish registered architect to prepare your project.
GOLDEN RULE NUMBER 4.
We also openly encourage interaction with our suppliers something that is not very common in Spanish business practise but is vital to your finished product.
We also like you as the client to visit work sites in the UK where you can not only meet the people involved in supplying your house but also see first hand their work and inquire about your requirements and how these can be fulfilled.
Nobody needs an expensive, poorly designed, badly built inefficient house in Spain.
You’re not really going to look forward to coming back here for your holidays and seeing that terrible finish on your roof again and again.
Even worse, some people turn up in the summer that you don’t particularly like but they’re kind of family and of course they start pointing out all the flaws in your house and then tuck into the barbecue hungrily, drink all your wine and then fall asleep on the luxury sofa, snoring loudly.
None of our suppliers will deal directly to Spain on a supply only basis. This is a recipe for disaster. We’ve heard of plumbers drilling holes through roof trusses for a full morning only to return after dinner to find the whole tiled roof sagging. The first thing that has to be done is remove the tiles, prop up the roof, re laminate the trusses and then re tile the roof (4 people 2 weeks). Expensive and time consuming mistakes.
They demand a quality product finish, as you, the client does.
The stories are endless. From a clients point of view they are not at all funny and for somebody in the trade weather it be a supplier or a person involved in the trade in Spain, it’s embarrassing.
This has nothing to do with bad Spanish workers but its actually quite the opposite. There are very professional and highly qualified trades people in the building trade in Spain but you have to dig deep to eliminate the cowboys and then train these people up so they know how to install services in a Timber Frame house.
This is why the system has such a bad reputation among Spaniards. Companies set up, build one or two houses then disappear off the map never to be seen again.
“Tooth pick houses.” is the phrase they use but you, as a client, are stuck once more.
No guarantees, no certified product and no one to reclaim against. Try and sort that out. You’ve no chance. Cheque book time.
Costing going through the roof and you are losing the control of the build.
GOLDEN RULE NUMBER 5.
If you are thinking of buying land in Spain and building a house this is how we work from start to finish on a typical project in Spain on an individual basis safe in the knowledge that you are not being taken to the cleaners.
Legal aspects regarding plot purchase and guarantees of purchase along with building permissions and all official translations into English.
Again you are taking a vital role in your build.
This where as a UK client you have a big advantage as we deal with an English qualified and Spanish registered architect based in Tarragona.
At SKH Architects you can get all the assistance you require regarding Timber Frame in Spain.
Please note that SKH do not carry out a project management service.
They deal solely with your project design and the official bodies it has to be processed through and signed off. They are at all times in contact with TFIS and our suppliers on a coordinated organisational route and a detailed planning strategy of your project.
Designed to your specifications and your requirements with a fixed costing.
Safe as houses.
All our suppliers have a tested reliability and will provide all guarantees and trade certificates that are valid in Europe. Here client/supplier/architect interaction is welcome and becomes one of the focal points on your design and needs. You are in command.
Most quotes are sent out with in 20 working days unless there are severe engineering complications.
Delivery and Erection
Apart from trade payment guarantees you also get delivered a certified Timber Frame structure that is erected by in house building crews under supervision of the TFIS Project Manager. This is signed off and all your structural guarantees are in vigour.
A guaranteed, certified and correctly executed erection is essential and you as the client are safe in the knowledge that with your English documentation from the suppliers, you are still in command.
This is where you also need to have been in control of a secondary supply of Andersen Window and Doors along with certified performance guarantees as well as certain fixing and fittings items.
No client wants to wait 8 weeks for a window delivery and fit and then realise the panes are fitted by somebody else at an extra cost.Andersen products can be shipped out along with the structure and stored near the site in a safe lock up.
Avoid extra costs at all costs.
Peace of mind and matching performance ratings.
All our suppliers will respond to any complaints and correct them and be held responsible for them at all times if they are at fault. A missing or broken item on a shipment is an example.
Your TFIS Project Manager will safely ensure that all pre service installations are carried out strictly in accordance with regulation building rules. These installers are sourced locally by out Project Manager thus ensuring you as the client are content not only with their product but its correct installation.
No payments are released until the TFIS Project Manager signs off the work carried out. You are in charge of your budget.
This is a critical stage of the build as it’s the final finish so exact client specifications have to be followed. Our Project Manager ensures that these are carried out correctly and all installations are individually signed off and payments to these companies can be made safe in the knowledge everything is in order.
You are running your build confident that everything is in order.
Again an important part of the finishing of you house. This is another example of the need for a project manager. You need to ensure cavities are keep free of mortar and rubble and the window installation is correctly carried out. Signing off the finish is again a trigger for payment with you as the client fully assured that it has been done correctly.
From start to finish you are running the build and no extra expense has occurred and your house is performing to the figures of the suppliers.
Your finished product needs to be registered and all bureaucratic documents must be filed and deeds registered. If you are thinking of opening a business at your premises then this legal side needs to be investigated as there are grants available.
Of course all these phases have a cost but every one is quoted on and that is a fixed price. You get what you pay for and peace of mind safe in the knowledge that your house is performing as predicted and is fully legal and in compliance with European legislation.
Home sweet home and nice and cosy.
GOLDEN RULE NUMBER 6.
If in doubt contact us.
Its better to be safe than sorry.
You won’t regret it.
For a more detailed breakdown of this process go to: