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In legal terms, final approval means that the project has fulfilled certain criteria and is considered suitable for performance. In Germany for example, final approval is regulated in the contract for work and services in Paragraph 640 of the German Civil Code. The contractor is entitled to final approval when the work has been carried out in accordance with the contract. Any defects that are found during the final inspection must be remedied by the contractor within a specified period of time. Payment is due at the time of final approval, the limitation period comes into effect, and the transfer of risk takes place in accordance with Paragraph 644 of the German Civil Code. This means that the burden of proof relating to any defects, among other things, lies with the contracting party. This is also known as the reversal of the burden of proof.
For a work contract based on the German construction contract procedure for building work (VOB/B), the provisions of the German Civil Code are modified, in part, by Paragraph 12. The contracting party is liable for acceptance of the work within twelve working days of the contractor’s request. If no formal acceptance has been agreed in the contract and none of the parties to the contract demand it, the service shall be deemed to have been accepted twelve working days after written notification of the completion of work. If the contracting party has put the work or services performed to use in whole or in part, then acceptance shall be deemed to have taken place six working days after the start of use. Formal acceptance is definitely recommended. For this purpose, the building is inspected by both the contracting party and the contractor, accompanied by technical experts if possible. Documentation of acceptance should be prepared in which any reservations concerning defects and contract penalties are recorded.
In addition to the final approval, formal initial use of the building and building services should also take place. At the same time, all project documents including the latest plans, operating manuals and briefing reports must also be handed over. The users or persons responsible for the facilities should be present during the briefing and they must be provided instructions regarding the technology and operation of the building. Clearly formulated information or “operating instructions” should be provided to building tenants.