The law of 4 January 1978, the Spinetta law, considers all parties involved in the construction of the building - contractors, architects, engineers, Bureaux de contrôle, manufacturers and importers of products and components to carry some responsibility. Contractual responsibility starts from the conception of the works and may run for a period of beyond practical completion for a maximum period of 30 years. Special responsibility covers:
The cost of insurance in the construction industry in France is generally substantial especially when both the client and the design and construction team provide cover. All responsibilities except penal responsibility are insurable and generally the insurance companies of the parties concerned settle disputes.
The Spinetta law of 1978 requires all parties to the construction process to take up the appropriate insurance policy before construction begins; if an architect is employed it is their responsibility to ensure that the client, the contractors, the subcontractors and the suppliers are all properly insured.
The client (maître d'ouvrage) is required to insure against decennial responsibility and a policy known as Dommage Ouvrage or DO (insurance for client) provides such cover. It is provided on a project basis. By law, no limit can be attached to this type of policy, so that they will always be able to obtain the necessary funds to complete the project. Its purpose is to finance any essential work prior to apportionment of responsibility. Any defective work is reinstated immediately, and then the claim is settled between the insurance companies of the parties concerned.
The amount of TVA (value added tax) payable on building work is 19.6 percent for all new build and are reduced rate of 7 percent for renovations. Generally creating new space, does not benefit from the reduced rate of 7 percent, renovating existing habitable space does.
The amount of TVA (value added tax) payable on building work is 19.6 percent for all new build. When an existing non-habitable building has been granted change of use to habitation (for example an agricultural barn being converted into a habitation) this is also classed as new build (it is a new habitation) TVA payable is also 19.6 percent.
Renovation work on an existing habitation has a reduced rate of TVA of 7 percent, it is only when you are restoring an existing habitation that you benefit from the reduced rate of TVA.
Most artisans will request that you sign a reduced rate 7 percent TVA attestation when you sign a quotation (devis). This is a declaration by you that the reduced rate of TVA applies to your project, should it transpire that all your project does not qualify for the reduced rate of TVA then the attestation exempts the artisan from paying the additional TVA due and makes you liable.
For a definitive answer on whether a project will benefit from the reduced rate of TVA, visit the local tax office (Hôtel des Impots) for confirmation.
There are legal requirements with which buildings must comply concerning safety of persons, hygiene, and energy consumption. There are departmental regulations, based on the national requirements, covering sanitary requirements for existing buildings.
Public contracts are statutorily governed by the Documents Techniques Unifiés (DTUs), which set out rules for design, building, and structural calculations. In addition there are the avis techniques (technical advisory notes). These are issued by the Centre Scientifique et Technique du Bâtiment (CSTB) in relation to innovatory procedures, materials, components and equipment, where no standardisation yet exists.
The Association Française de Normalisation (AFNOR) sets out technical or technological recommendations applicable to products, in the form of Normes Française (NF), some of which are mandatory and form part of the DTUs. When a product has the mark NF, it indicates that it is subject to systematic control, conforms to the norm and is suitable for use.
Enforcement of these building regulations is the responsibility of the local Préfecture and Mairie. Their representatives may inspect works in progress; carry out tests, and request to see all official documents. This right can be exercised at any time within two years of the completion of the construction. The builders are not relieved of any of their liability by such inspections.
The norms and DTUs may be made binding in private projects by being prescribed in the contract.
The acceptance of a quotation is a private contract, a person arranging building work themselves should ensure before signing that it is written in the quotation that:
Note: A roofing contractor will be insured for roofing work as defined in their insurance policy. Alterations to roof trusses or rebuilding a chimneystack will not be covered by their insurance unless there is an express clause in his policy.
The basis of construction work in France revolves around the premise that skilled individuals undertake work that they insure for a period of 10 years. If a person considers restoring a property and plans on doing the majority of the work themselves, they should take into account the implications for insuring and selling on the property in the future.
Work that an individual undertakes on their own property will not be insured by others. While this may not be an issue if in the case of redecoration, there may be ramifications if they install a new heating system, create openings in load bearing walls or replace a roof; even if they have the skills required for such work, it may not be insurable. In addition, they may be liable to third parties if the work becomes defective. Future buyers might request the insurance details of the contractors involved prior to purchase this could dramatically affect the resale value of the property.
Disclaimer: The content of this document is provided for guidance only and while every effort has been made by the author to ensure the accuracy of the information and translations contained, no liability can be accepted for any errors omissions and inaccuracies, or for the opinions expressed herein. The sources of information used were Guidance notes from the Directors of Planning for Calvados (14), Manche (50), Orne (61) at a presentation for the Conseille Regionale des Architectes Basse-Normandie 10/07/2007. J.O n°5 JAN 2007 Text n°12
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