6. Handover and Delivery of 'Off Plan' French Property
6.1. Handover & Delivery
The developer on a off-plan development is rarely also the actual builder.
Accordingly, there is a formal and legal handover of the property between the developer and the builder.
The 'handover' of the property from the builder to the developer is not the same as the actual 'delivery' of the property to the buyer from the developer. They are completely separate processes.
In practice, it is not usual for there to be a handover which involves the prospective purchaser or, at least, someone acting on behalf of all the purchaser.
However, it is important that, even if you attend the formal 'handover', it is not on the basis of accepting 'delivery' of the property. This must take place once the report on the handover has been completed, (and probably when any defects found on handover have been remedied).
A written report of the handover of the dwelling should be prepared. The report is called a procès verbal de réception.
This report should be distinguished from that of the written report on delivery, which is called a procès verbal de livraison.
You are not owner of the property on 'handover', but you do become owner when you accept 'delivery'.
At the time you sign the VEFA contract, you should request a clause that grants you the right to a copy of the handover report between builder and developer.
As there may well be difficult judgements to be made, the use of an independent professional to undertake a full delivery inspection of the property is essential.
Where you are completely satisfied with the dwelling then you can accept delivery on an unconditional basis, and the outstanding 5% retention can be paid.
However, it may well be that the property does not conform in one or more respects with the contract you have signed, or, whilst it may conform, there may well be defects that need to be remedied.
The issue of the conformity of the building with the contract, needs to be distinguished from that of defects that may be found on the property when you are given the keys.
Thus, for example, if the developer has not fitted the correct bathroom shower, it is a 'non-conformity'; if the shower leaks, it is a 'defect'.
In the first case, you may be entitled to withdraw from the contract and obtain reimbursement; in the second case there is no such entitlement, but you do have a ten year building guarantee.
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