Gota Fria (1) – Spanish Construction (0)

 

I have now lived in this area for over 10 years and I can honestly say that I have never experienced the heavy rainfalls as encountered on the 12 October, imagine this continuing for three days and three nights as has been known in the past. The Spanish call this event a Gota Fria, a very dangerous and destructive force of nature. At the height of the rainfall, a large waterfall could be seen cascading from high on the mountain behind the Val Bon Restaurant - Alcalali, (according to Pepe of Pepe’s Restaurant – Alcalali) this has only been seen twice before in the last 75 years). The bridge in Beniarbeig collapsed and many houses were flooded, the access road to the new country club El Caserio Del Rio, Murla also collapsed, several properties in Alcalali were flooded as were ninety percent of the properties in Els Poblets. Water washed through the El Quijote Restaurant in Orba and the lists goes on as numerous other residents of the area recapture the moment when luck was not on their side.

How did your property fair - unless you were very fortunate your property would have shown some signs of water penetration or damage, constructional problems or even worse, structural damage. However, it is not all gloom and doom, at least now you should be aware of where the problems are and can start to take action to avoid the same thing happening again, because as sure as eggs are eggs it will happen again. Below, I have listed a few basic items to look for and what action needs to be carried out to rectify these problems.

Roofing – The roofing tiles on a Spanish low pitch roof are not there to stop heavy rainfall entering the property, this is the job of a water proof barrier below the tiles. In heavy rainfall conditions water is forced under the tiles onto the felt or painted bitumen layer below and it is the job of this water proof material to stop the water from entering the property. Therefore, if you have a problem with water penetration it is no good to simply let Joe Bloggs tidy up the tiles and make them look pretty; you must rectify the cause of the problem.


Walling – The external wall of a typical Spanish property is constructed of 20cm. hollow blocks on the outside, a 3cm. cavity which is filled with rigid insulation and 7cm. pot blocks on the inside. This form of construction is of little use when it comes to water resistance, the water resistance is solely achieved by the painted two coat sand and cement rendered finish to the outside. Therefore it is vital to keep the external face of your property well maintained; failure of the paintwork or render could result in water penetration. Another common problem is that unlike English properties, the Spanish install the windows on the inside of the wall, on the wrong side of the cavity and without a vertical damp proof course. The cavity is there not only to provide a place for the insulation but also to stop water penetration. Installing the windows on the inside of the wall will result in water penetration around the windows and in heavy rain we often see water running down the inside of the wall below the window. As this is the accepted method of construction in this area, there is little that can be done to overcome the problem without major alterations, however do check that there is an external bead of silicon pointing around the window and that this is in good condition, this will certainly help alleviate the problem.


Foundations – The quality of foundations on Spanish properties tend to be a little hit and miss, Spanish building regulations now insist on a very heavily reinforced concrete strip foundation, which is good, but do not insist on this foundation being seated on a competent ground bearing strata, which is not good. We are generally very lucky in this area as most of our properties are founded on rock and there is very little chance of subsidence, however for properties built on a hillside there can still be problems. It can often be seen during construction that the builder will horizontally cut into the hillside to provide a base for the property, with all the excavated material being simply pushed down the hillside below. This method of construction can often result in the rear of the property being founded on a very competent rock strata and the front of the property being founded on the material previously excavated. This practice will often result in some form of differential settlement and cracking of the structure may then take place. With periods of heavy rainfall as recently encountered a more destructive and dangerous situation can result, a partial collapse of the property. Water can wash out the filled excavated material from below the foundations and by doing so removing all support to the walls above. Take ten minutes to check your foundations for problems – has any part of the foundations been exposed due to this heavy rain, can you see any new cracks in the wall or are old cracks becoming larger. If you have an under build look for any signs of water that may have been flowing through. Generally if you have a foundation query it would be wise to have it checked out, the sooner you find a problem the cheaper it will be to fix.

 

Garden walls – Generally, garden walls and boundary walls are just decorative, they are not built to stand the pressure of vast volumes of water cascading down the hillside; however you can reduce the effects that future heavy rainfall will have on your walls. Try to remember in which direction the water flowed, could this water be diverted around the property and the garden. Did the water pool behind a wall, do you need some form of land drainage, and do you need to introduce drainage holes in the base of a wall to allow water to escape. Again, a ten minute look around your garden to check for any problems and assess what work needs to be carried out would be a worthwhile exercise.

It would seem that extremes in the weather conditions are becoming more and more common, we are constantly told that this is probably due to climate change; the heavy rainfall recently experienced will not be a one off, just imagine a three day Gota Fria. Let us all look at the properties we live in and see what lessons can be leaned, if the recent rainfall has uncovered a problem with your property  take action now, next time it may be more serious.

 

John Phillips (F.I.A.S. F.A.B.E. M.I.B.C.O. F.F.B. M.R.S.H. C.M.W.O.B.O. M.B.I.M)

Construction Buena Vista

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Construction Buena Vista
Urb. Palmeria. Orba 03790

 

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0034 965 577 464 (office)

 

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Buena Vista Villas s.l.

Urb. Palmeria. Orba 03790

 

Please call us on

 

0034 965 577 464 (office)

 

0034 629 554 561 (mobile)

 

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