Law 1796 of 2016 protects real estate buyers and was introduced to include new safety requirements for newly built houses in Colombia. This Law provides the following obligations for all construction companies.
Independent evaluation of the construction design
Under this obligation, the construction company must conduct an independent evaluation of the designs of those construction projects over 2.000 square meters, independently of the use the construction is meant for. Its objective is to ensure those projects comply with all technical requirements. The company requesting the building license must pay for these independent evaluations and may freely choose who will conduct it. This procedure is mandatory for all building permits in urban soil that meet the minimum area requirements.
Independent technical supervision
It is the supervision performed by an independent professional over a construction project to ensure its compliance with the structural design and applicable licenses. All constructions over 2.000 square meters must have it, but it does not exempt the construction company from performing its own quality controls. Projects requiring independent technical supervision must obtain a technical certificate of occupation, issued by the independent technical supervisor after performing said supervision. Moreover, the independent supervisor must certify the project is being executed under the plots, designs, and technical, structural and geotechnical specifications.
Insurance for pecuniary damages caused to the buyer
Construction companies and developers of newly-built housing units must cover any damages suffered by the buyer under any of the events provided by subsection 3 of Article 2060 of the Colombian Civil Code (demolition or potential ruin of the building, partially or totally caused by an irregularity in the construction or the soil which should have been known by the company considering its expertise), within a period of ten years after the technical certificate of occupation is issued. This liability does not cover non-pecuniary damages.
With the approval of the Decree 282 of 2019, said coverage should be ensured within ten working days after the issuance of the technical certificate of occupation. This Decree allows such insurance to be taken through a guarantee trust, a bank guarantee or an insurance policy. It also allows other insurance mechanisms, as long as the Financial Superintendence approves of them and provides the conditions under which they must operate.
Enforceability of Law 1796 of 2016
The aforementioned law is only applicable to those projects that have requested building permits after the law came into effect. This happened on July 13, 2016. Only those articles included in Title IV of said law came into force a year after, on July 13, 2017. The regulations provided by Decree 282, 2019 will come into effect 2 years after it was published; that is on February 21, 2021.