Construction defects in new-builds: here are your rights


Moving to a new home is exciting. Until you have to deal with issues such as construction defects or delays. As a tenant, it is important that you are aware of your rights. Contracts and agreements are crucial in this regard.

In principle, a limitation period of five years from the date of purchase applies to structural defects. According to the provisions of the Swiss Code of Obligations, defects that were not identifiable at the time of purchase (known as hidden defects) must be reported as soon as they are discovered, otherwise the owner forfeits their rights. A limitation period of five years from the date of purchase also applies to these defects.

The provisions of the SIA 118 norm are more generous: defects can be reported at any time during the first two years from the date of purchase. The warranty period then runs for another three years. During this time, any defects must be reported immediately. However, SIA 118 only applies if explicitly agreed upon.

Common construction defects

We have listed the most common construction defects for you below. Keep an eye out for these when moving into a new home.

  • Defective bathroom sealing: If your bathroom walls are damp and mouldy despite proper, regular ventilation, this indicates defective bathroom sealing.
  • Damp floor: If the floor covering is laid too early, moisture damage will not become apparent until later on. If the floor suddenly becomes discoloured or damp around the edges, the covering was probably laid too early.
  • Damp attic: The attic is also susceptible to mould growth, so always keep an eye on it.
  • Ineffective underfloor heating: Does your home feel cold in winter, despite the underfloor heating? Then it may not have been installed correctly.

In summary: when it comes to construction defects, it helps to be aware of your rights, the applicable standards and the framework conditions. This allows you to make the best decisions and avoid excessive costs in the worst-case scenario.

Construction defects in owned condominiums

If the property in question is owned and not rented, things get even more complicated. The situation varies depending on the part of the building affected. There is a difference between individual apartments and the roof of the building, outdoor areas, the shared underground car park and other communal areas. If a construction defect affects their own apartment, the condominium owner can take action and demand that the faulty construction be remedied and repaired. If it affects communal areas, such as water damage in the underground car park, all the owners must take coordinated action. In the case of minor defects, internal agreement is sufficient; in the case of major defects, it is worth seeking legal advice.