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Practical completion

Handover of the works and final accounts

Air Park de Paris Business ParkEntrance Hall at Air Park Paris

The role of an architect at the handover of works is to alert the client to any possible defects or apparent defects in the construction. From the moment the work is completed, each contractor must inform the architect so he can proceed to practical completion.

The handover of the works is a very important stage for both architect and the various contractors and trades involved on the building site as it marks the starting point of the biennial (2 year) and decennial (10 year) guarantees.

In doing this, the building owner recognises that the work has been carried out in accordance with the contract and that the building works conform with the code of good practice and are fit for their intended purpose.
The reception of the works must be recorded in a report signed by both the architect and by the contractors. If the work is declared complete, the handover is declared without defects.  If defects or imperfections are detected (including apparent defects), the handover can either be refused or accepted but with a list of defects that have to be addressed.

The contractor responsible for any defects must be notified by registered letter. In all cases, the company must, within the remit of it's contractual obligations, carry out the repairs within a clearly defined  timescale agreed with the architect.

If the repair works stipulated in the contract are not completed within this timescale, then it is possible for another contractor to carry them out at the expense and risk to the contractor at fault.  The cost will be charged to the defaulting contractor when the final accounts are settled.  After practical completion the architect checks the accounts for each contractor. The total cost of the work must correspond to the amount specified in the contractor's building contract.

The architect can make the following deductions if allowed for in the contract:

  • allowances or penalties for lateness, if applicable by the contract
  • 5% retention money : whether or not there are defects at handover, the 5% retained will only be paid to the contractor one year after the date of handover except, of course, if the contractor has not carried out his obligations. In this case he must be notified by registered letter.


The architect calculates any potential variations that may apply within the contract : 

  • for additional work that is ordered
  • claims for additional costs or time extensions
  • to take account, if necessary, of changes to base rates as included within the contract.

The completion certificate: 

The completion of the works must be declared to the local authorities within 30 days of the practical completion date. This must be signed by the general contractor, the contractors who carried out the works and also by the architect.

The local authority then check to ensure the work has been done in accordance with the building permit. A completion certificate is then issued within 3 months.

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