On the way from the dream to the finished dream house, planners have to follow a number of legal applications and regulations. Based on our fictional couple Sarah and Tom, we have put together a three-part series of six legal pitfalls that you should pay attention to on your way to your own home. Let’s start with the preliminary building inquiry and the right to withdraw from building contracts!
the essentials in brief
- With a preliminary building application, you can clarify the admissibility of your dream house in a cost- and time-saving manner before purchasing the property and thus avoid the expense of a building application that may have been submitted in vain.
- Contrary to a widespread misconception, withdrawal from construction contracts is only possible in special cases involving a breach of duty by the construction company.
- Only conclude construction contracts after an intensive examination, clarified financing, acquired property and submission of a preliminary building permit.
Part I: From choosing a plot of land to choosing a construction company – planning the house construction
After careful consideration, Sarah and Tom decide to invest in a comfortable home instead of investing in the increasing rent. Now that this momentous decision has been made, the couple wants to lay the symbolic foundation stone for happiness today rather than tomorrow.
Some time ago, Sarah bought a plot of land with an optimal layout in a prime location. Accordingly, Tom would like to participate in the construction of the house himself with a larger share of his own capital.
The two of them already have a very clear idea of what their two-storey dream house should look like. On the recommendation of a colleague, contact was quickly made with a well-known construction company and the building application submitted.
To Sarah and Tom’s horror, however, this was rejected three months later due to an inadmissible height. Would it have been possible to avoid spending the €800 invested in vain for the failed building application?
Use the preliminary building inquiry to clarify whether the planned building project is possible
With the help of a preliminary building inquiry, Sarah and Tom could have clarified all relevant points regarding the approvability of the building project – including whether the height of their house is permissible.
A preliminary building inquiry is not mandatory, but highly advisable. If possible, it should be submitted before the property is purchased, but at the latest if the local development plan does not contain any information about the legal admissibility of building a house.
In this way, it can be determined whether a costly and time-consuming building application is actually worthwhile. In addition, Tom and Sarah would have received information about the regulations to be observed when applying for a building permit.
How should a preliminary building application be submitted and is it legally valid?
A preliminary building inquiry can be submitted in writing, informally or formally, to the building regulations office. The respective state building regulations state which documents are specifically required.
The decisions on formally asked questions are legally binding – but only if there is no deviation from the submitted plan. Therefore, the questions should be asked precisely and the project should be described as precisely as possible. Even at this point, an architect can be consulted to help with the submission of the preliminary building application.
Attention, a building permit is not a building permit. This must be obtained through a planning application. Although the preliminary building permit is legally binding, it is subject to a different time limit depending on the federal state. However, there are no nasty surprises in this way, so that the dream property can really be built on with the dream house.
Right of withdrawal in construction contracts
Sarah and Tom want to withdraw from a construction contract because they found a cheaper offer. For a long time, rights of withdrawal only existed in certain situations. Because they presuppose a breach of duty by the company.
However, this has changed with the reform of the work contract law from January 1, 2018. As part of the new so-called consumer construction contract, a signed construction contract can be withdrawn within 14 days. Incidentally, the contractor must issue instructions on this right of withdrawal. Here you will find all the regulations of the reform of the work contract law and the new consumer construction contract .
Free termination after expiry of the right of withdrawal period
Although Sarah and Tom have the right to withdraw from the contract by giving free notice without any particular reason, they should think twice about this. Because they are obliged to pay the agreed wages. In addition, the equivalent value for all partial services rendered must be paid.
Free terminations are always an expensive affair. Anyone striving for one should always consult a lawyer and consider carefully whether this is really the right decision.
Here is detailed information on pitfalls in construction contracts .
Read other parts of this series
- Construction planning part 1 – The preliminary construction inquiry and the right to withdraw from construction contracts
- Construction planning part 2 – from site preparation to construction acceptance
- Construction planning part 3 – from extension to move-out