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10 year insurance guarantee in France

The French Spinetta law of 1979 sets out the principle of obligatory insurance for everyone in France liable to be held responsible over a 10 (décennale) or 2 (biennale) year period.

Architects in charge of the project management of the building works are liable for any damage which compromises the solidity of the works or which make it unsuitable for its use during a ten year period following the handover of the works.

The 10 year responsibility relies on the presumption of fault: observation of the damage is enough to establish responsibility. The contractor or builder cannot exonerate himself by saying that its due to someone else or other foreign cause.

The 10 year guarantee can be applied to the following areas:
  • Traditional building works as well as civil engineering works (roads, tennis courts, sports fields, parks and gardens....)
  • Technical equipment and building services that are integral to the basic functioning and viability of the building including the foundations, the structure and the building envelope.

It is not only linked to the fundamental systems of the building, or those that are integral to the building, but also applies to a consequence of construction work whether complete or not.

The guarantee applies when there are:
  • structural problems
  • problems arising as to whether the building is fit for purpose
  • problems with technical equipment integral tothe building

In all cases, it only applies to dammages that occur after pracitcal completion.  
Bow Matchstick Factory renovationLoft housing development at Bow, London.

Damage that occurs prior to practical completion come under the one year defects liability period guarantee.

Everyone involved in the building process including manufacturers, suppliers and building control offices can be held resposible during this ten year period (however it excludes sub-contractors).

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