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How to make your Spanish property more energy efficient

In December Spain played host to the COP25 climate summit. The summit was held in Madrid and brought together over 25,000 delegates from around the world. El Pais announced that during the two week summit the nations have been looking to reach agreement on how to tackle the effects of global warming and keep it within manageable limits. Read the full article

Inspired by the summit and knowing that everyone needs to do their bit, we wanted to share some advice on how to make your home more energy efficient. This is good for the environment, but also good for you, as you will reduce your energy bills and can save a lot over the course of a year.

According to the Green Home Guide there’s a lot you can do to improve the energy efficiency of your home.

Step 1 – Make sure your property is well insulated

Spanish properties are not made with insulation in mind and many have poorly fitting windows and no insulation in the walls. This can make it feel cold in the winter and encourage you, or your rental guests to put the heating on when it’s not really necessary. To stop this happening, you should do the following –

  1. Check your windows and look at whether they should be replaced. If they are old and leaky, you will be losing a lot of heat this way, so investing in double glazed windows can be a good idea. However, this is an expensive addition, so you could try adding some heavy curtains for use in the winter, as these can make a big difference.
  2. Use draft excluders under the doors to stop drafts entering and heat escaping
  3. Consider using rugs during the winter to stop the cold from the marble floors coming through. It makes the place look and feel more cosy.
  4. Plant trees and shrubs around the house to block the sun during the summer months and keep the house cooler, to reduce the need for air-conditioning

Step 2 – Look at the energy efficiency of your heating and lighting

Change your bulbs for low energy bulbs when they need changing, they cost a bit more, but last a lot longer, so it’s worth the investment.

Look at the energy efficiency of your heating and cooling system and check that the air conditioning system has been serviced and cleaned as this can significantly improve efficiency. If it is time to replace your system, try to get the most energy efficient replacement possible, as we all know that air conditioning and heating uses a lot of energy and significantly increases bills when you have holiday rental guests.

Consider installing a solar hot water tank. Here in Spain, a solar hot water tank will give you all the hot water you need for around 9 months a year, and can save you a lot on energy costs. Utilising the power of the hot Spanish sun makes a lot of sense and can reduce your bills and your impact on the environment.

Here’s some more information on how to cut home energy bills and reduce energy use.

If you are inspired to make some changes to make your property more energy efficient, we can help. Our Costa del Sol property maintenance team can implement any changes for you, as we are your on-the-ground support system for anything you need for your property here in Spain. We can source energy efficient alternatives and get them installed for you and make recommendations on improving your property. Contact us and ask us how we can support you to improve your rental property and increase your rental bookings with our property management and maintenance services.

The bright side of the long winter

It’s been a cold, wet and windy winter on the Costa del Sol and unfortunately many properties have been damaged by the weather with flooding and damp being the biggest culprits. Please let us know if you have any concerns about property maintenance Costa del Sol and we can inspect your property on your behalf and fix any problems which have occurred.

An unexpected bonus of the bad weather is that it has stopped the devastating impact of the red palm beetle which have been destroying many of the palm trees along the Costa del Sol. Over the last year  over 12,000 palm trees have been killed by these bugs in Marbella alone – 20% of privately owned palms and 10% of public trees. However, thanks to a combination of the bad weather and preventative treatment, the spread of the beetle has been slowed significantly.

Property owners with palm trees are being warned to be vigilant now that spring is here and the sun is shining again. Look out for signs of the bugs, as if they are spotted early enough trees can be saved. You will often see the beetles in the garden or pool, or notice that leaves are going brown and falling out. If you have any concerns, consult an expert as soon as possible.

As part of our Property Management service, our gardeners can come and tend your garden regularly to look out for signs of the beetles and keep your garden in optimum health and looking great for when you or your guests arrive. Visit our website to see our full range of property maintenance services Costa del Sol including garden and pool maintenance and protect yourself against the red beetle.

Technology and hands-on service working in perfect harmony

Over the last few months, we’ve been busy as bees actively implementing new Internet technology not only to automate many of our previously labour-intensive procedures, but also to improve our service to our owners and tenants.

Hola!

Over the last few months, we’ve been busy as bees actively implementing new Internet technology not only to automate many of our previously labour-intensive procedures, but also to improve our service to our owners and tenants.

These initiatives will contribute to our company’s overall productivity so we can continue to thrive in these current tough economic times, and do well in the future.

HomeCareontheWeb using Internet technology to automate labour intensive processes
HomeCareontheWeb using Internet technology to automate labour intensive processes

The recent automation of our cleaning schedule procedure is the perfect example of this.

Now, when an owner logs on to their Owner’s Area on our website and fills out their visit calendar, our system automatically issues the required documents and checklists to our housekeeping team for the clean to be done.

Once the clean is complete, details are entered into our administration system and an invoice is automatically generated and delivered online to the client via their Owner’s Area.

Our maintenance procedures will be similarly automated shortly, where our inspectors will use portable terminals with 3G Internet capability to complete ‘live’ inspection reports at an owner’s property, and upload them directly to our website for the owner to view instantly.

You could say it’s modern technology combined with good old-fashioned service!

Hasta luego!

Help if you’ve bought off-plan on Spain’s Costa del Sol

After the initial excitement of buying an off-plan property in Spain, the construction of your dream home might not run quite as smoothly as you’d imagined. Buying off-plan in any foreign country can be a stressful experience, especially when dealing with developers and trying to ensure their work meets the specifications you’ve paid for – even more so if you’re based abroad and don’t speak the lingo…

Buying off planThere are plenty who are snapping up incredible bargains by buying property that has yet to be fully completed direct from developers. Now, after the initial excitement of buying an off-plan property in Spain, (and hopefully grabbing yourself a real bargain at the same time), the construction of your dream home might not run quite as smoothly as you’d imagined.

Buying off-plan in any foreign country can be a stressful experience, especially when dealing with developers and trying to ensure their work meets the specifications you’ve paid for – even more so if you’re based abroad and don’t speak the lingo. 

In much the same way that numerous companies and individuals offer property management services up and down the coast, there are also those who offer some form of pre-completion inspection service.

Typically they’ll be the Real Estate agent you bought the property through, or a property management company, and they’ll sell themselves as the people to trust to oversee the building of your dream home without you having to.

However, the level of service they’re able to offer you will vary dramatically, so here’s a piece of advice – it’s worth taking the time to find the right company to do this for you, otherwise buying your dream home could turn into a total nightmare.

Your best bet would be a reliable, professional property management company with a good reputation and conscientious staff that offers a comprehensive pre-completion inspection service.

Ideally, that company should be able to keep you informed of what’s going on with your new build every step of the way via online monthly property and development checks with suites of photos showing the building progress and any building schedule reports from your developer.

And, as construction work draws to an end, they should be able to produce for you and your lawyer a final ‘snagging list’ in English and Spanish, detailing any build imperfections and other issues that have to be dealt with in order to complete your property to specification.

Then, when everything is finished to your satisfaction and it’s time to turn your off-plan property into a holiday home or suitable rental accommodation, your property management company should be able offer you the benefit of their experience and point you in the right direction to find tried and trusted interior designers and furnishing package suppliers to turn your house into a home, as well as upgrade you automatically to a full property management service.

Meet Tim, heading up our maintenance team

Tim Telcs, HomeCareontheWeb Maintenance man
Tim Telcs, HomeCareontheWeb Maintenance man

Tim Telcs, our hard-working Maintenance Supervisor knows exactly what it takes to keep our Owners’ properties in tip-top condition all year round. We thought you might like to know what he gets up to on a typical working day…

“What’s a typical day for me? There’s no such thing!” laughs Tim. “But that’s one aspect that I love most about my job – the variety.”

With the height of summer just around the corner and a great many of our Owners down on the Coast for their holidays, plus a large number of holiday rental guests staying too, long days are the norm for the team at this time of year, so it’s important Tim gets an early start.

The first issue to tackle is their schedule for the day, and with so many maintenance requests to deal with, this can be quite a tricky balancing act.

“It’s vital that when a maintenance request comes in, especially an emergency, they get a quick response from us,” explains Jackie, who’s in charge of managing the maintenance workload. “Even more so at this time of they year, when owners and guests are trying to relax and enjoy their holidays and quite frankly don’t need any hassle.”

Mostly, it’s a question of prioritising the tasks at hand.

“For example, today we’ve got a blocked drain at an owner’s villa in Benalmadena,” says Jackie, “and a jammed front door lock at a holiday apartment in Sotogrande, and the electricity is constantly tripping at a long-term rental townhouse in Marbella. And those are just the urgent jobs…”

Of course, during a typical day other emergencies crop up, like the flood at an owner’s third floor apartment which happened last week. Tim had to deal with it immediately to avoid major damage both to the owner’s and the surrounding properties. This often means even the most meticulously planned schedule can change in an instant.

Having confirmed the schedule with Jackie, Tim jumps in his van and heads off to tackle his first job of the day. Tim boasts an impressive range of skills, so he’s more than qualified to deal with most things that are thrown his way.

“Really, my job should be called the repairs, installation, emergency, plumbing, electrical, building, home improvement, woodworking, kitchen fitting, tiling, plastering, product testing, fault fixing, problem solving, painting, decorating, paving, damp-proofing, welding and anything else you care to chuck at us department,” jokes Tim. “But that wouldn’t fit on the side of the vans so Maintenance Department will have to do.”

Tim is keen to point out that although much of his tasks involve fixing problems, he’s  also qualified to handle everything from upgrading owners’ kitchens or bathrooms, painting and decorating, and supplying and installing all the fittings such as lights, curtain rails and bathroom accessories on newly finished properties.

“You name it, I’ll provide a quote and do it,” says Tim.

And thanks to the excellent relations he has established over the years with local suppliers, he can be sure of the quality of raw materials he uses on behalf of our clients too.

“I only recommend materials that I’ve thoroughly researched and tested myself, from trusted suppliers. Only once I’m 100% satisfied materials meet my strict quality standards, will I use them.”

Tim’s first stop is an unscheduled one along the way – a call comes in from our office to say an empty owner’s property has just been broken into and burgled.

As we arrive, the police are already there, but the thieves have long since gone, damaging a window frame and taking a widescreen TV with them.

Tim’s immediate task, after dealing with the police and the necessary paperwork, is to secure the property.

“Sadly, security is something all owners on the Coast have to take seriously these days. Lately, we’ve installed everything from protective window and door bars, to bolt locks and secure windows, alarms, security lighting and roller-shutter locks to try and prevent this sort of thing happening.”

In fact, one of the services the maintenance department provides, that owners might not be aware of, is a complete security check to thoroughly assess and advise on an owner’s property’s vulnerability to help prevent break-ins.

“We obviously don’t want owners to get burgled, but we’d also rather not get called out in the middle of the night following a robbery! But, of course, when it happens, we’re there.”

As well as their normal working hours, the maintenance department are also on emergency stand-by 24-hours a day.

Back in the van as the day progresses from job to job, it’s clear Tim really rather enjoys what he does for a living. He talks about it with the kind of enthusiasm most of us normally reserve for a hobby.

He’s currently researching new electrical products, he tells me. In particular, ranges of remote control switches that look like normal switches but can be placed anywhere such as desktops and armchairs without the need for burying cables – especially good for properties with tiled walls.

“Recent advances in LED lighting technology have made them cheaper to buy and run. The quality of light they now produce is on par with traditional or halogen bulbs. Their low consumption and longevity make them extremely environmentally friendly too. One item I particularly like is an LED pool light which can change the colour of the whole pool at the push of a button, with a life expectancy far greater than standard bulbs.”

Fair enough.

The last job of the day, late in the afternoon as the heat finally simmers down, is to install a wall safe on behalf of an owner at their holiday apartment ready for their arrival next week.

Tim feels that fixed safes are essential for all properties these days – an extra security measure which even if you get broken into means your valuables can still be kept secure. He says the maintenance department has fitted many over the last few months.

“We’ve installed both basic fixed safes for people to store important documents, or jewellery, cash and so forth, plus more hi-tech ones like the safe I’m installing now, which is especially designed for laptop computers and even has an integrated power supply so the laptop can be charged while locked away.”

On the way back to the office at the end of a long day, I ask Tim what he will be doing tomorrow.

“I’m doing a post-summer holiday ‘spruce-up’ for an owner with a townhouse in Calahonda. Replacing some damaged tiles out on the patio, repainting the interior walls, waxing the garden furniture… at least, that’s the plan!!”

So, there you go – you now know a little bit more about what it takes to be a HomeCareontheWeb maintenance man!

Hasta mañana, folks!

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