In construction contracts, the dates for the start and completion of construction are often not satisfactorily specified. What obligations construction companies have in this regard and what you should additionally negotiate, you can learn here.
Dates for start of construction and completion mean planning security
It is important for builders to keep track of how long the home building project will take so that costs can be kept in check and the move can be planned well in advance.
Finally, other aspects depend on the move-in date:
- The old apartment must be terminated on time and rent payments (often with simultaneous repayment of the construction loan) should be kept as low as possible.
- It is also often appropriate to schedule vacation time early for the move.
Contractually fix deadlines
It’s always good to have dates written down in a contract. However, we know from many years of experience that many construction contracts do not specify dates for the start and completion of construction. That’s because construction companies don’t like to commit to deadlines in order to avoid valid claims.
Therefore, you should look carefully at what is written in the contract. In the absence of fixed dates – e.g. in the form of calendar weeks – builders should insist on corresponding additions before signing the construction contract.
If legal disputes should arise, contractual dates for the start and completion of construction are important: After all, construction delays can only be legally established with reference to contractual dates.
Completion date is mandatory
The German Civil Code (Section 650k (3) of the German Civil Code) requires construction companies to provide information on the date of completion of the house as part of the new consumer construction contract from 01.01.2018. This information is part of the construction description, which should be available before signing the contract.
However, it happens that for organizational reasons at the time of signing it is not yet possible to specify the date of completion. In such cases, providers must at least clearly define the construction period (e.g., 8 months from the start of construction).
No fixed regulation for the start of construction date
Builders should pay particular attention to a date for the start of construction in the construction contract, as there is no explicit provision on this in the BGB.
However, unless otherwise specified, the Civil Code provides in the consumer construction contract: “The contractor guarantees to the owner(s) a construction period of 8 months from the date of commencement of construction.”
But without a construction start date, this clause is of little help.
Better to insist on contractual construction start date
If the construction contract does not include a date for the start of construction, planning reliability is not guaranteed. The start of construction, which is initiated with the first cut of the spade or the excavation of the soil, should therefore be fixed in terms of dates in the contract (e.g. by specifying a calendar week).
Watch out for unclear wording, e.g.: “If all conditions are met, the contractor will begin construction on the next possible date.” Such contractual clauses say nothing about the actual start of construction and are of little help to the builder. Therefore, do not get involved with such formulations. Insist on a fixed date.
Prerequisites for the start of construction must be met
However, the construction company can only start work once it has been clarified beyond doubt whether the building project is feasible. For this purpose, the necessary documents and requirements must be provided by the building owners.
Builders need to get the following requirements:
- Building application approved by the building authority – Here more about the building application.
- Subsoil expertise, which makes statements about the load-bearing capacity of the soil – More about the soil expertise here.
- a survey plan of the property including the future house – Here more about the survey and costs.
- Construction site facilities: sufficient parking space for construction machinery, access roads and water and electricity connections for the construction work. Here more about the site setup.
Construction companies often want to avoid fixed dates for the start and completion of construction so that there is no legally valid claim in the event of delay. Such claims may relate to rent payments or hotel stays, for example.
Builders should therefore check contracts in particular for fixed dates (e.g. specification of a calendar week). Verbal agreements or unclear formulations are of little help – remain persistent during contract negotiations! This is because delays can only be legally established on the basis of fixed dates.
The date for completion is mandatory – the date for the start of construction is not. However, it should still be negotiated.
However, in some cases, the construction company cannot immediately agree on fixed dates, as planning and preparation efforts are not yet manageable in detail at this point in time. Here it is appropriate to stay in contact with the provider. As soon as dates can be set, they should then be included in the contract.
It should be noted that builders must set up all the conditions for the start of construction – otherwise they can not start construction work. In particular, a building permit for the house construction project must be submitted.
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