Building Guarantees in France
Thursday 01 March 2007
An increasing number of international buyers are now choosing to buy building land in France, on which to construct a new home.
If you choose to do so, then you will benefit in law from a high level of consumer protection, but you need to ensure you go about it in the right way.
Your main priority must obviously be to select a competent and honest builder but, whomever you select, you need to ensure that there are building defects insurance policies in place.
In France, all major building work is guaranteed in law for 10 years against defects, albeit on a reducing scale. Thus, in the first year you will have a comprehensive guarantee, but in later years only a guarantee against structural defects.
All builders are required by law to take out ten year building insurance, (called assurance décennale) but not all do so, and enforcement of the rule is weak.
In addition, the client should take out their own ten year building defects policy, (called assurance dommages-ouvrage), which effectively acts as an insurance policy against the failure of the builder's insurer to pay out!
Thus, it is not unusual for the builder or their insurer to contest a building defect and, in the absence of your own policy, you might be in a legal battle for years trying to resolve the dispute.
You can read more about building guarantees in our guide to Building in France.