Construction defects

In a construction project, any deviation from the agreed upon quality constitutes a construction or material defect. In accordance with section 633 of the Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch (BGB – German Civil Code), the building contractor “must procure the work for the customer free of material defects and legal defects".1 The following criteria must be met for performance free from material defects:

  • The item must be of the agreed upon quality and comply with the accepted rules of the art.
  • If the agreed upon quality is not met, it must be suitable for the contractually stated use.
  • If no contractual use is stated, it must be suitable for ordinary use. In addition, it must be of a quality that is common in similar works and that was to be expected by the contracting authority.2

The focus is therefore on the functional capability of the work. Under the German Civil Code, the term “defect” merely requires a deviation of the actual quality from the intended quality. The sole deciding factor is therefore whether the contracting authority has received what he ordered, regardless of whether it is of equivalent quality or there is a defect in functional capability.3

It is also a defect if the contractor itself did not cause this, and instead the error was caused by another party. This could be the case, for example, due to faulty preliminary work or defective materials. If these defects affect the contractor’s performance, thereby making it defective, the contractor must account for this.4

If a work has a defect, the contracting authority has the following rights in accordance with section 634 BGB:

1. the right to cure
2. the right to remedy the defect itself and demand reimbursement for the necessary expenses
3. the right to withdraw from the contract or to reduce payment
4. the right to demand damages or reimbursement of futile expenditure

The rights to cure, self-remediation, withdrawal and reduced payment, in contrast to the rights to damages or reimbursement of futile expenditure, are independent of fault.5


  • 1 Vgl. Kromik, Wolfgang (2013): Haftung des Bauträgers für Baumängel. In: Kuffer, Johann; Wirth, Axel: Handbuch des Fachanwalts Bau- und Architektenrecht, 4. Aufl. Köln, S. 794-796.
  • 2 Vgl. Bönker, Christian; Lailach, Martin (2009): Praxisleitfaden Immobilienrecht. Erwerb Finanzierung Bebauung und Nutzung, 2. Aufl. München, S. 210.
  • 3 Vgl. Kromik, Wolfgang (2013): Haftung des Bauträgers für Baumängel. In: Kuffer, Johann; Wirth, Axel: Handbuch des Fachanwalts Bau- und Architektenrecht, 4. Aufl. Köln, S. 794-796.
  • 4 Vgl. Lailach, Martin (2009): Privates Baurecht. In: Balensiefen, Gotthold; Bönker, Christian; Geiger, Norbert; Schaller, Wolfgang: Rechtshandbuch für die Immobilienpraxis. Erwerb, Entwicklung, Bestandshaltung, Vermarktung, München, S. 568.
  • 5 Vgl. Kromik, Wolfgang (2013): Haftung des Bauträgers für Baumängel. In: Kuffer, Johann; Wirth, Axel: Handbuch des Fachanwalts Bau- und Architektenrecht, 4. Aufl. Köln, S. 794-796.
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http://www.corpus-sireo.com/en/glossary/construction-defects
: 25.06.2019