Former Huddersfield gymnast and pub landlord Brian Hayhurst and his wife Elaine are ex-pats who have lived just outside Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol for 20 years. He writes every fortnight for Huddersfield Hub.

The property market is still quite buoyant throughout Spain and new builds, in particular, have skyrocketed, seeing the highest increase in prices since 2007.

Buying off plan has been a popular and exciting way to secure your dream home. But there can be risks involved, especially if offered a big discount to sign up early in the project.

The route to your house or villa can usually begin with a visit to the site with an agent – sometimes to a bare field or hill, occasionally with sheep grazing.

Then it’s back to a smart, comfortable office to peruse glossy brochures and look over a model where you can decide upon views – sea/mountains etc, access to the sun and, of course, location and security.

If you like what you see, a sizeable deposit can be paid to the constructor, and you begin the wait to see the development taking shape and eager to share the 3,250 hours of annual sunshine.

From time to time these plans can go desperately wrong – as they can with all forms of building – and having heard of several new-build developments in the UK when there were multiple on-going faults and damp issues, leaving clients angry and dismayed as their dream new builds turned out to be homes from hell.

At the end of January it was reported that a huge company/developer here on the Costas suddenly and unexpectedly stopped paying contactors and workers on several sites in Marbella, Estepona and Manilva.

This well-publicised story has left hundreds of buyers of exclusive villas, valued up to 2 million euros, bewildered as work ground to a halt.

Some English, Belgian and Dutch customers are now embroiled in a legal battle to get back the monies invested. Workers and foreign investors are basically in the dark as to what is going on.

READ MORE: Catch up on Brian’s previous blogs HERE

Meanwhile, the forecast yellow weather warning last week in Andalucia did indeed bring violent storms with high winds causing much damage, like the canopy ripped off a golf driving range.

But the coldest days we have ever experienced did not deter people from celebrating Valentines’ Day.

Many restaurants offered a variety of tasty tapas up to elaborate feasts, all with a romantic emphasis. 

Spaniards and ex-pats will celebrate most occasions and dress up accordingly. At least the weather has warmed up a bit now!

Celebrating Graham’s birthday

Today (Saturday) sees the 65th birthday of a popular Huddersfield sportsman and now Spanish resident – Graham Stacey, who along with his wife Val, generously put on a party for sporting colleagues and pals with a delightful meal and entertainment.

Graham, who still owns the Phoenix Squash & Fitness Club in Honley, is an avid padel player, also a fanatical Huddersfield Town supporter, and has spent many hours raising cash for charity events at the club and for worthy causes.

Finally, our hearts go out to the thousands of displaced Turkish people who are struggling to deal with the harrowing devastation, the miraculous rescues, along with the growing number of dead and injured.

Spain has sent many specialist rescue personnel some with their dogs, to assist and help with the vast humanitarian problems.