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How COVID has impacted construction on the Costa del Sol

In the years before COVID hit we saw a steady increase of new building projects in the area of the Costa del Sol and once again – after a long pause – cranes appeared on the skyline. This was something that was in very short supply after the crash in 2008, so the return of the new developments, along with buyers’ appetite for them was very promising. In fact, according to the Spanish Ministry of Development, there were a whopping 200 new developments either being built or in the process of being created in January 2020 and a large number of new building licenses being applied for and issued – raising the spirits at the Town Halls!

However, March 2020 brought about a very strict three-month period of almost total lockdown in Spain, adversely affecting construction sites, as well as almost all other businesses, some of which ground to a halt. Thankfully, work resumed on construction projects relatively quickly after the strictest restrictions lifted and since May 2020, our projects have been able to proceed well, alongside many others.

Unfortunately, there was, and there continues to be a shortage of materials caused by the disruption to production and the urgent need to “catch up”. Most projects are being delivered late under the legal protection of the Covid pandemic laws. Most people have had to renegotiate delivery dates in contracts and softened penalty clauses in order to allow for the disruption.

How project management kept projects moving during 2020

During this time our role as Project Managers on the Costa del Sol was more important than ever. For example, we were able to continue work on a stunning luxury villa project in Sotogrande for a client who was not able to visit the site due to the COVID travel restrictions. As we were controlling the project on his behalf it didn’t slow down progress at all, and we were able to keep him informed through our detailed monthly reports and consult him regularly via video link when decisions were required. We also mounted a webcam on the crane so that he could “live the progress”. Having a dedicated Project Manager here on the ground, when the owner couldn’t be, gave him the peace of mind that everything would be taken care of and that we would deal with any additional issues brought about by COVID. The project was delivered on time and on budget, ready to enjoy, and the keys were handed over to the relieved and happy owners this summer.

Design and construction on the Costa del Sol is notoriously dependent on human performance and compliance in all areas. It requires tight man management to ensure the essentials of the project are on track. This is no mean feat when one bears in mind we live in a holiday destination, famous for its relaxed way of life and “mañana” attitude. COVID and the issues with workers getting ill, or being in contact with someone who tested positive and having to quarantine made workforce management an even more important role. This led to us having to re-programme and re-schedule works and to re-negotiate contracts to ensure the agreements were being followed and not being allowed to lapse due to extenuating circumstances. On other projects this renegotiation process caused a lot of conflict and problems between the client and the team, but we were able to smooth things over and make good progress.

Keeping projects running during the pandemic also required knowledge of the ever-changing restrictions with regard to who could work, and who could travel. At some points local lockdowns meant people couldn’t leave their towns, but with the right paperwork from us, this was overcome and the site could continue working at full pace.

The knowledge and proven experience of licensed experts is crucial to hitting targets at all times, but even more so during a pandemic. By having access to the best advice and support you can avoid the pitfalls of extra costs, late delivery and poor workmanship and deal with whatever the world throws at you!

How things have changed since COVID

Since travel continues to get easier and restrictions lift around the world, we’re able to see some of the changes that this pandemic has made to people’s attitudes and desires when it comes to their properties.

We’ve seen that people are now asking for more individual properties, built around their unique set of requirements. Being stuck at home for so long has allowed people to reflect on what matters to them and allowed them to refine what it is they really need and want.

Following the very strict lockdown when communal facilities couldn’t be used on developments, there is now a higher percentage of people wanting detached homes with private gardens, pools and facilities such as gyms and game rooms. People are increasingly looking for more space and dedicated offices, as well as extra bedrooms to allow extended families to be together. The outside space that so many people lacked over lockdown is leading to desire for beautiful and functional gardens and a demand for well-planned and implemented landscaping which adds that extra level of quality to the project. Due to these new demands and requirements, we’re seeing better design and an improved use of available space both inside and out, which is an excellent development.

The faith that developers have put into the Costa del Sol seems to be being rewarded, with the property market becoming buoyant once more, and buyers and holidaymakers coming back as soon as they possibly can. In fact, some real estate agents have been reporting their best months ever over the summer of 2021. This seems to be because of the pent-up demand generated when people couldn’t travel, the desire to live under sunny skies and the realisation that people can “work from home” anywhere.

According to the RICS Global Construction Monitor for the second quarter of 2021, there’s positivity in the construction industry globally and they expect private residential and infrastructure workload in Europe to continue to strengthen. At MDCI we predict a bright future ahead for the construction and real estate sector on the Costa del Sol and can’t wait to help more people realise their dream of building their own home, or development in this beautiful area. Browse our website or contact us to find out more about our project management services on the Costa del Sol.

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