It is normal when someone acquires new property that he gets a guarantee for defects for a period of 12 months after delivery.
Although not stipulated, in most/all contracts, the Cyprus common law sets out that the developer is liable for ever for the structural stability of a building (other things being equal e.g. earthquake, bad maintenance etc).
What is a structural defect, is a defect which appears on the structural frame of the building, on which the whole structure is supported. So, subsidence of the foundations is considered as being a structural defect, as is the deflection of the beams, subsidence of floors etc. etc. These structural defects must not be confused by what it is more known as a routine defect. That is cracks on walls (unless they are caused by the foundation/frame subsidence), rising damp, decoration and maintenance items etc and even including rainwater coming in through the roof it will not be considered as being a structural defect.
Usually houses which are more then 2-3 years old, the structural frame has had the time to settle and any movement/defection in the frame will show (be it not always). For this reason, subject to your lawyer’s advice, even if your contract does not stipulate the structural stability, the developer should be liable. The question arises when you buy the property as a resale not from a developer and for these cases we suggest that you ask the seller for such a guarantee (the seller could obtain a back to back guarantee from the builder) but this is a difficult item to enforce. What we must stress to you is the use of licensed contractors in case you decide to build your own house. Depending on the class of the contractor, he can build so many square meters of building. So low scaled contractors, may not be in the legal position to build a house for you. In these cases and should the contractor is acting illegally (as well as you being the principle) we do not think that you can sue him for bad workmanship if something goes wrong, because you have done an illegal act together. So, do not place your 100% decision on the tender price only. Surely a defect may be caused not only by the contractor, but by the architect, who has designed the building, either by not producing details, or by providing the wrong detail in the plans/or even due to the lack of supervision/improper supervision. We must say that at this point of time with the rush to get on, on the “gold mine” train of real estate development, the quality of building is not what it used/should be.
During our structural surveys, we have noted at one house at Tala that the pool has actually moved down the hill, another pool at Paralimni has actually tilted, whereas another building at Peyia has evident cracks on the building’s frame, indicating either movement and/or lack of proper design/execution. In these and other cases, do not expect necessarily that you will be covered by your insurance of the building, because you might find that there are exclusion clauses for which you have never dreamed of!! In a recent case, the insurance company refused to compensate an owner for “flooding”, damage due to water coming into the house from the veranda drain, because it claimed that the veranda drain was wrongly designed!
We must repeat our previous article by extending our warning that, like a car, a building needs a constant monitoring and maintenance. If you see rising damp, a crack on the external pavement, the woodwork rotting etc, please get on to it and try to solve the problem, because it can get worse and we can assure you that if you meet the problems at their initial stage, the repair bill will be lower than the routine service charge of your car, but if you leave it for later you might find that the cost to put things right will be more than the value of the car!!
Having said all these, in actual practice, can you actually find the small and reliable contractor who can carry out the repair/maintenance of your property? Not easily and we can say that for foreign people is particular who do not have the “local know-how” might be a nightmare.