The Self-Builder’s Liability for Latent Defects


October 1, 2017 Real Estate and Construction

This post, published on Éditions Yvon Blais’ blog on latent defects on September 20, 2017 (FR), deals with the self-builder’s liability for latent defects. Specifically, an individual who undertakes a self-build or major building renovation project for which he acts as the general contractor or carries out the work himself will not be considered a simple seller when he sells his immovable; he will be presumed to know of all the defects affecting the sold property and will not be able to exonerate himself by invoking his ignorance of the defects, regardless of his level of expertise, experience, and competence and regardless of whether or not he knew of the defects.

The seller of a building that he himself has built will be considered a manufacturer within the meaning of section 1730 of the Civil Code of Québec, thus imposing upon him the presumption of awareness of the latent defects that may affect the building. This presumed awareness of the self-builder regarding defects affecting the building that he himself built has the effect of subjecting the seller to paying the buyer, in addition to the restitution of the sale price, all damages suffered by the latter caused by the latent defects affecting the immovable, without the buyer needing to demonstrate the seller’s awareness of the defects or that the seller could not have been unaware.

 Several decisions have emphasized and reiterated this principle, including the recent Superior Court decision in Brès v. Giraud (Full Text | Fiche Quantum) (in French) of November 2016, discussed in this post, and the decisions in Lefebvre v. Rousseau (Full Text | Fiche Quantum) (in French), Clément v. Lessard (Full Text | Fiche Quantum) (in French) and Beauchamp v. Lepage (Full Text) (in French).

However, one nuance must be noted: the presumption of awareness does not carry with it the presumption of the existence of latent defects provided for in section 1730 of the Civil Code of Québec if the self-builder seller is not a professional seller.


This bulletin provides general comments on recent developments in the law. It does not constitute and should not viewed as legal advice. No legal action should be taken on the basis of the information contained herein.

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