If you use a professional constructor to build on your plot or to restore an existing property, or if you buy a house designed by a constructing company “on plan” [1] you all know it is important to go around the house in detail.

What most buyers do not know in general, is that it is – under certain circumstances – essential NOT to identify certain disorders, or at least not to raise them too soon.

I need to give a little more detail for you to understand the essential in here:

Under the French Construction Law “Act” (you know continental lawyers use whole books which I resume here as Acts, just to use a familiar concept) damages are subdivided in different categories depending on:

  • Whether or not they concern the “fundamentals” in a house, thus presenting a danger and/or substantial financial loss if something is wrong on this level. This category covers all damages to the structure, this means all sorts of structural disorder (including renovation of existing structures, but also infestations by xylophagous insects or impropriety of the work to its destination);
  • Whether or not they can be taken out or off without breaking of damaging the house itself;
  • If it concerns items that were specifically adapted to your house, but they are not part of the “fundamentals” and can be taken out or off without breaks;
  • If it concerns in- or outdoor equipment not specifically designed for your apartment or house;
  • The smaller troubles concerning the finalization of the house.


The delicate “planning” to keep in mind when you’re snagging during the reception of your house primarily concerns the first category, and the second for as far as specific equipment or items cannot be taken out without breaking or other damages.

To make the snagging of these fundamental structural damages even more complicated, I (globally) subdivide these damages as mentioned above, in three main other categories:

  • Damages to the structure,
  • Impropriety of the work to its destination and
  • external damages like Infestations by xylophagous insects or certain types of land improper for construction

As a website isn’t the proper environment to write books, just keep this in mind:

NEVER EVER raise STRUCTURAL damages DURING THE RECEPTION OF YOUR APPARTMENT OR HOUSE, as you will loose your 10-year warranty by doing so!

You can, however, raise those damages immediately after the “reception”, but make sure you have a document confirming the official “reception” in your possession before doing so AND, behave like someone who is effectively “willing to receive” (the best way to proove this is to effectively occupy or “use” the house, or at least put sufficient furniture in it).

But you can keep the last 5 % which you’re not supposed to pay before all other non-structural problems you discovered have been repaired.

This also concerns those détails that were not executed at all, in spite of a “devis” mentioning those détails as part of the constructor’s obligations.

In the particular situation mentioned in the footnote, the rules and warranties are even more complex. You better find yourself a specialized lawyer in this field before raising disorders at any time during the building process.

Wait until you have the keys (although this advise needs qualifications as well) , and the “déclaration de parfait achèvement” (the document from the “Mairie” stating the perfect completion of your house).

Concerning the other categories of disorders mentioned above, the rules are different, and the delays to raise those disorders considerably shorter (from one month to 2 years globally speaking).

But I promised not to write books.  ‘ Not sure I’ll keep this promise – as you’re quite a few to make mistakes in here – but I won’t do it on my website I think.

Just an advise from a friendly lawyer: come over to see me before you start building: a few basic recommandations (which can be given by email) really are worthwhile if you’re profane in the matter!

And as a specialist I can assure you it takes years and years before you really become a specialist in this part of law






[1] It’s only different when you’re buying a house “on plan” with the intermediary of a real estate developer. In that situation it is important NOT to show up if ever he’d invite you to assist to the “reception” and snagging of your apartment or house in France.

And if, in this particular situation, you hired yourselves the services of an architect who is supposed to “assist” you in the reception, do it seperately and not in the presence of the real estate developper.

This situation concerns the very heart of a few quite complex details in French real estate I’m not going to bother you with.

Let me just precise that it is essential not to be present at the “reception” of the house or apartment you bought from a real estate developer on plan, but that it is essential that you’re there for the “livraison” which has to take place shortly afterwards, and which is a  quite different event with other legal conséquences.