Does your new home have flaws? The builder will not necessarily pay for its reconstruction

It is no longer certain in front of the major defects of a new house, to obtain in court that the contractor pay the price of its reconstruction. From now on, whether the customer is claiming forced reconstruction or its equivalent in euros, the judge must verify that the cost of this requirement would not be unreasonable in view of the defects, decided the Court of Cation by modifying its usual case law, in a judgment of July 6 (C. Civ 3, 6.7.2023, K 22-10.884).

Until now, this proportionality essment was only imposed on the judge in the event of material reconstruction but not in the event of a request for equivalent compensation. The case had again recently presented itself to the Court when an architect and a carpenter challenged their order to pay in cash compensation equivalent to the cost of demolition and reconstruction of a new pavilion. There was a lack of 25 to 30 cm in height under the ceiling because the designer had forgotten to count the thickness of the underfloor heating and because the carpenter had also made a mistake in his measurements.

No disproportion with regard to the defects of the building

The construction contract, said the owner of the house, does not provide that these stakeholders can be forced to materially redo the work but that they may be liable for the cost of this work to be redone. And according to the usual case law in such cases, the judge only controls the proportionality of the sanction when reconstruction is requested in kind. This solution must be changed, considered the Court of Cation, invoking an unjustified difference in treatment and the principle of compensation without loss or profit.

From now on, whether the reconstruction is requested in kind or whether its cost is requested in money, the judge must verify whether it is not disproportionate with regard to the defects of the building and whether the client could not reasonably live with it.

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