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The odyssey of buying a flat (3)

Mariola and her boyfriend chose a low house, which was originally also a watch shop, located between two blocks of buildings in the Madrid neighborhood of Tetuán to become their first property. Actually, they had started looking for a flat to rent, but the excessive prices led them to opt for the purchase.

Their budget, however, did not allow them more than to acquire an old house to later reform it. The old watch shop, which was being sold for 100,000 euros, seemed ideal, even more so when the same real estate agency that managed the sale offered to connect them with a renovation company that would do the work for a very cheap price: another 100,000 euros.

“We looked at other budgets and this builder’s was brutally cheaper and we said: ‘This is great, because we are going to build the house we want with the initial budget, which was 200,000 euros,'” says Mariola, who is 34 years old. The mortgage was signed on March 13, 2020, one day before the confinement that also closed all the works for months.


photographer: Jose González [[[PREVISIONES 20M]]]theme: Testimony Cristina.  Difficulty getting a mortgage.

“The licenses were paralyzed for about a year and we spent that time in our rental house and it was a bit horrible because we had bought a house and we could not go forward or backward, but we had signed a budget that could not vary, although With the pandemic, all the prices of materials went up,” says Mariola. When she finally started the work, in November 2020, the new owner began to notice that something was not going well: “This guy used to brick every day.”

Home renovations, which have also been on the rise in recent years –In 2022, 1.75 million houses were renovated in Spain and, for 2023, the forecasts are for growthaccording to a report by the National Association of Distributors of Ceramics and Construction Materials (Indimac)-, have been dramatically affected by inflation, usually generating unexpected budget increases and delays in initial deadlines.

For Mariola, the start of the work marked the beginning of a period of excuses, requests for advance money, allegedly problems with the availability of materials and licenses. that lengthened what at first should have been a work of four months to more than a year. In May 2022, with “four walls on a lot” where her home should be and with virtually the entire initial budget already paid for in advance, Mariola stood up and asked the builder for a face-to-face meeting.

“I am surrounded by people who have cheated them of a lot of money, although ours has been extreme”

“He told us yes, that he had cheated us, that he had used that money for something else, that he did not have enough to finish the work on our house and that he was very sorry,” Mariola recalls of that meeting, in which she was with her newborn son in arms. “He told us that he was going to solve it because we made him very sorry and patatín and patatán and we did not trust each other for a month until he disappeared overnight.”


Stock image of a mortgage firm.

The result was disastrous. 100,000 euros squandered that they will hardly be able to recover and, for months, the real possibility of having to give up their newly acquired home. The only thing that really stopped it was that it proved impossible to sell. in the state it was in and that Mariola and her partner were able to receive help from her family to hire a new construction company. In this case, everything was in order and her house is already a reality, as is the enormous debt that they have contracted both with the bank and with their relatives.

– What would you do differently if you could go back?

– “Our mistake was having paid in advance for anything from the start, with the second builder we only paid for what was already done and even so I am surrounded by people who have cheated them of a lot of money, although ours has been extreme”.

Other reports in this series:


photographer: Jose González [[[PREVISIONES 20M]]]theme: Testimony Cristina.  Difficulty getting a mortgage.


Stock image of a mortgage firm.

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