The British buy more property in Spain than anywhere else outside the UK. But, although surveys are standard procedure when buying in the UK, they are far from common in Spain. Do local habits mean that surveys are unnecessary in Spain?

The fact is that, when buying a property in Spain, be it new-build or resale, it?s always sensible to ask a professional to check the property before proceeding. There are a number of things that can go wrong with a property?many of them far from obvious to the untrained eye?and some can have serious financial consequences for the buyer. Ultimately, the cost of a survey is a small price to pay for peace of mind.

There are different types of surveys, and which one to choose depends upon the type and condition of the property. The two most common are building surveys for people buying resale properties, and snagging surveys for those buying new-build properties.

In the former, the surveyor reports on the physical features likely to affect the value and quality of the property, and a snagging survey focuses on identifying and correcting problems in new-build properties immediately before or after taking possession, and confirming that the finished property matches the plans and specifications in the original contract.

There are other types of surveys, such as structural surveys and valuation surveys, which may also be appropriate. All can be carried out by an English-speaking chartered surveyor, of which there are a number in Spain. The cost is likely to be between ?500 and ?1,000 (£340?£680), depending upon the property.

In areas that are not covered by a chartered surveyor, one can get an architect or technical architect (aparejador) to check a property, although the reports may not be as comprehensive.

Mark Stucklin runs Spanish Property Insight (www.spanishpropertyinsight.com).

This article was published in Country Life magazine, December 22/29 2005

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