Guarantees for Off Plan purchases in France

Buyers of off-plan properties in France are protected by a number of guarantees (guarantees from the builder and legal guarantees). The aim of these is to ensure that the property the buyer receives upon completion conforms to all the specifications set out in the preliminary contract and final deed of sale and to provide the buyer with a means of redress should this not be the case. These legal guarantees also exist to enable the owner to appeal if defects are found after the buyer has taken ownership of their property. 

arrow2 Guarantee of completion

The first guarantee protecting the buyer is the guarantee of completion. This compulsory guarantee ensures that the promoter will be able to complete construction and can take one of two forms:
The “garantie extrinsèque” or extrinsic guarantee is a guarantee of completion underwritten by a financial institution, an insurance company or guarantee company which agrees to meet the costs of completion in the event that the promoter is unable to do so.
The “garantie intrinsèque” or intrinsic guarantee is a guarantee given by the construction company that they can meet the costs of completion. This guarantee is not underwritten and is usually only given once the foundations have been laid and financing secured for 75 % of the intended sale price or when the building has been weatherproofed.

arrow2 Guarantee against any defects of conformity

Off-plan properties are guaranteed by the promoter to conform to the specifications agreed in the preliminary contract and the final deed of sale. These specifications are contractually binding and the buyer is under no obligation to accept a property which differs from these. In the event of non-conformity, the buyer has the right to ask for changes to be made in order for the property to conform to the specifications agreed (if this is still possible) or to cancel the contract for a full refund and thereafter to possibly claim damages.

arrow2 Guarantee against apparent and hidden defects

The buyer of an off-plan property is also protected against any defects in the construction and soundproofing.

Off-plan properties are guaranteed against apparent defects (defects detectable by a non-professional) for a period of one month by promoters. If such a defect is present the buyer must inform the promoter before the one month guarantee has expired via a recorded letter with acknowledgement of delivery. If the promoter does not then carry out the work required in order to correct the defect the buyer is entitled to ask for a price reduction or may take the promoter to court to oblige them to carry out the necessary work. In the event of substantial defects it may be possible to cancel the contract and thereafter claim damages. The buyer has 13 months from the delivery date during which to take any matter arising from this guarantee to court.
Off-plan properties are also guaranteed for 10 years against any hidden defects, even those arising as a result of the geographical location of the property, which compromise the structural stability of the property or which make it uninhabitable. This guarantee dates from the handover date and is issued by both the promoter and the professional who carried out the work. 
There is a separate, concurrent 2 year guarantee of correct operation which applies to fixtures and fittings - elements which can be removed or replaced without deteriorating the structure of the building (eg shutters, interior doors).
The soundproofing of off-plan properties is covered by a one year guarantee dating from the handover date. The promoter is responsible for ensuring that the minimum standards of soundproofing in the eyes of the law are met, although it is the responsibility of the contractor to carry out any work required to meet this standard.

arrow2 Guarantee of quality – the ‘labels’

 The final type of guarantee for those purchasing an off-plan property is that offered by the presence of what the French call a ‘label’. ‘Labels’ are awarded when a product (in this case the construction) meets a set of stringent criteria laid down by an independent not-for-profit body and are a guarantee of quality. The two main labels applicable to off-plan properties are the Promotélec and Qualitel labels.
The Promotélec label is a guarantee of the quality of the electrical installation, its performance and its safety, guaranteeing that the installation was carried out according to the industry code of practice. This label also covers heating, insulation, ventilation and the production of domestic hot water by electricity.
The Qualitel label guarantees the quality of the construction of the property as a whole based on its performance across seven criteria:  the effectiveness of the soundproofing, the performance of the insulation (in summer as well as winter), the quality of the plumbing, the quality of the materials employed in the construction, the estimated cost of heating and water etc and the durability of the roofs and frontage.   


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