A lot has changed in Marbella property in recent years, and we’re not only taking about modern architectural design and the latest home automation technology and interior trends. In fact, there is as much of a revolution going on ‘beneath the surface’ as in plain sight, with new building techniques, an ever-expanding range of materials and also a shift towards ecological development and sustainable homes creating the biggest changes the industry has seen in decades. As an expert in Costa del Sol construction and development, the founder and CEO of Move Project, Fabian Delle, shares his insights with us.
In your experience, have there been a lot of changes up to now in the methods and materials of construction in Marbella, as well as the technologies used in the process and applied to the properties?
There have indeed been many changes in the use of materials, starting with denser concrete mixes for foundations and walls, more insulation materials for walls, better water, temperature and sound proofing, and also more use of glass and aluminium in construction than before.
What are the latest new tech and material trends regarding construction in our region, and which ones do you see coming to the Costa del Sol in the near future?
There have been great strides but unfortunately the use of unsustainable materials is still quite common and many structures are already old within 40 years. That has to change, and to do so the materials we use should be recyclable. At the moment only 20% of the plastics are, and the same applies to other materials, so a lot still needs to be done. The copper, iron and steel from demolished houses is extracted but the rest isn’t really crushed and recycled yet.
However, there are also very positive trends that will make an impact here. Timber, which is a building material that has been used by people since forever, is coming back in a big way. In countries such as the USA, New Zealand, Switzerland and Austria its use is common and now also being extended to large and tall structures, and it works well. Another trend that reduces costs and increases longevity is ‘smart’ self-repairing materials. This could be a game-changer for our roads, buildings and transportation infrastructure. In Spain, the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia in Barcelona has developed Passiv Cooling Ceramics that, like the human skin, function as a heat exchanger.
Do you think prefabricated construction is a positive thing for building in this region, in terms of cost, design flexibility, insulation/energy efficiency, time saving, build quality, features, technology and environment?
I believe it is often better to prefabricate within the controlled environment of a factory and then assemble on the site. It is a more precise and efficient way of working that saves time, money and is also better for the environment than a dirty building site. Currently, the British International School is the only major building in Marbella that is prefabricated, and it’s a very safe and functional facility for hundreds of pupils. It is a strong future trend.
A villa or development used to take about 1-2 years to build. Now some say that can drop to 6-12 months or even less. Do you see this as a positive thing, especially for developers and investors?
Villas are more difficult to sell off-plan than apartments, so it is of interest to complete them within a good timeframe. Time and investment are key issues in every development project.
How are environmental practices and ‘green homes’ impacting the industry locally? Is it a big thing already or something of the (near) future? Also, what is required on the part of home owners/developers on a practical level, and how does this impact prices/cost?
Spain could be a leader in sustainable development, but before this can happen there has to be an investment in infrastructure, training, etc. I think Marbella’s new PGOU planning directive will put this high on the list of priorities, so in locations such as this the process will accelerate, driven also by demand from foreign buyers.
How do you see the construction industry evolving over the next few years in Marbella and surroundings?
There is a post-Covid boom that will continue for some time, followed by a mild dip, as is usually the case. But unlike other parts of Spain, Marbella belongs to a ‘property elite’ in terms of international buyers and luxury homes that has a stronger dynamic of its own and continues to attract people thanks to its quality of life. This, together with reasonable prices and an ever-improving standard of homes and facilities, guarantees long-term attractiveness and a generally healthy construction and property sector.