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After having done your own work in a house, be careful not to do anything... Because in the end, the operation can be expensive.

Law: Selling a house that has been renovated by oneself

Husbands do their own heavy work and in particular the facelift of the house. They sell their property on December 13, 1999. Some time later, the buyer notices damage to the facade and a lack of sealing of doors and windows. He seeks compensation in court. After a lengthy procedure, the Court of Cassation delivers its verdict in a judgment of November 4, 2010. The purchaser gets € 28,782 because the "sellers-handymen" are declared responsiblethey have committed a fault and it has been proven.

The seller as a builder

The whole case is based on Articles 1792 et seq. Of the Civil Code. The principle laid down by these texts is that anyone who sells, after completion, a "work" (a house for example) that he has built or had built is considered a builder.
But every builder is responsible, towards the client-that is to say, the one for whom the work is done-or the purchaser of the good:

  • damage that compromises the strength of the building: collapse of the frame, collapse of the floors, significant cracks in the walls...;
  • damage that affects the strength of the equipment that forms part of the viability, foundation, frame and roof structures: pipes embedded in the floor, non-sealed window, etc.;
  • damage that prevents the house from being habitable such as water infiltration, poor thermal insulation...
Therefore, when an owner renovates his property and then puts it up for sale shortly after the work, he may be required to compensate the purchaser if defects appear.
But do not panic, for this several conditions must be met.

What is intermediate damage

Damage occurring after renovation work is often not serious. They do not compromise the solidity of the building or the dwelling of the house. We are talking about intermediate damage.
Examples of intermediate damage held by the courts:

  • blackening or greening of a facade;
  • appearance of microcracks,
  • defects due to incorrect application of the coating...
The purchaser of the property, however, has the means to act. He can play the "contractual liability" of vendor-yourselfer if the damage, not present at the time of the sale, appeared after. If it was visible at the time of sale, the contractual liability can not be implemented (Court of Cassation of 4 November 1999). The purchaser must, in addition, prove the fault of the seller-handyman. In the Nov. 4 case, he testified, with the expert report in support, that the technical standards for remediation had not been met.

A seller is responsible for how long?

For intermediate damage, the purchaser has 5 years from the moment he discovers the defect, to seek compensation from the seller.
But if the damage compromises the strength of the building or its equipment or the home, the responsibility of the manufacturer can be questioned for 10 years. The 10-year period runs from "the receipt of the work", that is to say from the end-of-work meeting. When the owner does the work himself, legally the 10-year period has no beginning or end.

Deco work excluded by this judgment

The seller-handyman does not risk anything for maintenance work, landscaping, decoration. The purchaser can not claim any compensation for the badly laid wallpaper that is peeling off, the poor quality paint flaking off, the strips of plasterboard that appear.
On the other hand, for renovations, do not improvise. To do this, always make sure:

  • surround yourself with professional advice, including DIY materials vendors.
  • And comply with the instructions for use of the products and materials used in the installation instructions or instructions for use.

What is the scope of this judgment?

This judgment lays down the principle that the seller of a property he himself has renovated is not only a seller but also a builder. As such he commits himself responsibility in case of malfunction.

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