What does 10-year builder insurance cover in France?

The assurance décennale saw changes after a recent court case

The type of insurance required depends upon the nature of the works being undertaken
Published Last updated

Reader Question: I read your article about changes to 10-year builder’s insurance, but never knew such a thing existed. Can I ask any workers renovating my home to have it? 

The assurance décennale – a 10-year builder’s insurance – is a compulsory requirement during some constructions or renovations in France. 

It must be in place for builders working on new constructions, as well as for extensions and certain large renovations. 

When is assurance décennale necessary in France?

The cover needs to be taken out before the construction site is opened, or any work begins in the designated area of a property.

It can be taken out by builders, property developers, architects, artisans, or a single worker.

It is the responsibility of the principal contractor as stipulated on the works contract (contrat de louage d'ouvrage) not the property owner to ensure the insurance is in place.

A recent ruling from France’s highest judicial court has changed the requirements for assurance décennale

From March 21, when builders install certain equipment, for example heat pumps, it is no longer mandatory for them to have this cover. 

Read more: Heat pump insurance cover downgraded for many home owners in France

It is now required only for larger projects and not for the installation of equipment that can be installed or removed without changing the framework or structure of a property.

What does assurance décennale cover? 

Assurance décennale offers 10-year warranty covering a number of defects, most notably vices cachés (hidden defects) not noticed during the construction process.

It includes damages related to: 

Foundation and framework work

Servicing works (networks, drainage)

Roads (access paths)

Work with foundations (veranda, terrace, in-ground swimming pool, etc.)

Some items which cannot be separated from the building (pipes, ceilings, floors, central heating, door and window frames, built-in electrical installation, etc).

Even if work you are undertaking does not require a 10-year guarantee, you can ask the contractor to have this cover in place. 

If it is not mandatory, however, they may not be willing to pay the increased cost, or may pass the costs onto you as part of the quote (devis). 

Read more: Home sale in France annulled as visible faults not stressed at viewing

Building works in France still covered by civil liability 

Even if your project does not require the 10-year guarantee, you will still be covered by a five-year civil liability (responsabilité civile) cover for all work undertaken by a contractor. 

Although this can be invoked at any time within the five years for cases of fault of the installation or damages caused by the equipment, it can be harder to prove this in court.