If an investor chooses to build a house or renovate an old building, he must not only pay attention to what the object should look like, but also who is responsible for the construction work.
Obtaining the entire project and technical documents is the obligation of the investor before the construction starts. After carrying out the work, the investor is obliged to take over the building, to inspect it, and if he detects any defects, to notify the contractor within 6 months. Of course, his main duty is to pay the price of the works that have been carried out according to the contract; but under certain conditions he may refuse to pay the price.
The main obligation of the contractor is to build the building according to the project, professionally and within the contract deadline. The contractor is liable for general defects, the solidity of the building, material defects and defects in the installed equipment. The contractor must comply with technical regulations and building project and can only deviate from this with the consent of the orderer. Without first obtaining consent, he can perform only urgent work to ensure the stability of the object or to avoid damage.
With regard to liability for construction defects, a distinction is made between visible and hidden construction defects. If the orderer wishes to invoke his right in respect of defects in execution, it is important that he notifies the contractor within the legal deadline.
Visible defects (which he can see in a normal inspection) must be reported by the investor to the contractor immediately, otherwise he loses the right to invoke them. After the inspection and acceptance of the work carried out, the contractor is no longer liable for the deficiencies that could be identified during normal inspection, unless he was aware of this and did not show the defects to the orderer.
For the notification of hidden defects, the investor has a period of 1 month from its discovery, and he loses the right to appeal to these defects 2 years after acceptance of the work done.
The investor’s rights against the contractor due to construction defects are also passed on to all subsequent acquirers of the building, but these new acquirers do not have a new deadline for notification and claim, because the deadline for the predecessor applies to them as well.
A particular category are defects regarding the solidity of the building – strength, stability and safety. The contractor, the board of supervisors or the architect will be liable for these defects, depending on who caused the defects, if they are known within 10 years after handover and acceptance of the construction works and they can not be excluded or limited by the contract.
Often, investors hire a board of directors to oversee the entire project. The contractor must provide them with permanent supervision of the construction work and control over the quality and quantity of the material, as well as secure the construction site. The board of supervisors coordinates the on-site inspection and checks what kind of work has been done and whether if it is technically and properly executed. By law, it is to blame the bord of supervisors for the defects in the solidity of the building, if they occurred during their supervision. For these deficiencies, the supervisory body is liable if they are known within 10 years of handover and acceptance of the construction works. They bear the blame not only to the investor but also to any subsequent acquirer within 10 years.
Whether it is to blame the contractor, architect or the supervisory body, it has be proven in court. In order to avoid years of argument, it is advisable to specify the rights and obligations immediately upon signing the contract. The responsibility may be reinforced by a private law liability of the contractor, architect or supervisory body. The contractor’s manager, the architect and the board of supervisors may provide a solidary guarantee so that not only their company but also they personally are liable for their work and performance. In addition, as a guarantee that the work is actually carried out, a debenture can be certified by the notary so that the investor can enforce his claim immediately if the agreed work has not been carried out.
As just stated, the rights and obligations of the parties to a construction contract are regulated in Croatian law. In order to achieve their assertion as soon as possible, legal consultation is recommended.