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Hidden or visible defects?

The Civil Code, your rights and your responsibilities.

Inspection Practice Standard

Objective and implementation.

Preparation and documentation


What to know and have before and during the inspection.

Vices cachés ou visible

Hidden or visible defects?

In real estate, a defect is considered hidden if it has all of the following characteristics:

  • It existed at the time of the purchase of the building;

  • It is unknown to the buyer;

  • It is not apparent;

  • It is so serious that, if he had known about it, the buyer would probably not have bought the building or would have asked for a reduction in price.

apparent defect in a house is visible to the naked eye. It is therefore detectable by a prudent and diligent buyer. This buyer is considered to have knowingly bought the house. The seller is therefore not held responsible if the defect is considered to be apparent.

The Civil Code of Quebec

Apparent deffect

The Civil Code governs several areas affecting relations between individuals in Quebec law. It deals with the main rules in matters of personal law, family, inheritance, property and civil liability.

According to the Code in article 1726:

The seller is required to guarantee to the buyer that the property and its accessories are, at the time of the sale, free from latent defects which render it unfit for the use for which it is intended or which reduce its usefulness so much that the buyer cannot would not have bought it, or given such a high price, if he had known them.

If you have recently discovered a hidden defect, the seller is in principle responsible for it. Indeed, in the presence of a latent defect, the seller must compensate the buyer, even if he proves his good faith.

This obligation stems from the legal warranty provided for in the Civil Code of Québec, which provides that the seller must guarantee the immovable against any hidden defect and that he is required to compensate the buyer, if applicable.


For instance:

  • The seller is required to pay for the repair even if he was unaware of the existence of the defect at the time of the sale;

  • The seller could also be required to pay damages for the trouble and inconvenience caused to the buyer, especially if he was aware of the defect at the time of the sale and if he did not mention it clearly to the buyer.

Following the discovery of a hidden defect, it is imperative to denounce it in writing to the seller. Many people lose their rights because they are reluctant or slow to act.

Thus, from the moment you discover a hidden defect, it is imperative to take action to preserve your rights.

Norme de pratique de l'inspection

In Quebec and in the rest of the country, there are several standards of practice that indicate a procedure to follow. This procedure is an essential tool in order to provide our clients with the most complete and comprehensive description of the condition of the building possible.

These standards are established so that each inspection is done rigorously and so that we can all meet the same definition of task as an inspector. Whether it is the standard of IBCAIBQInternachi or others, the task remains the same, that of describing the places and the different elements of a building in a visual and non-exhaustive manner, all in a responsible and safe manner for all.

Regarding the AIBQ Standard of Practice, 11 system categories will be inspected during the course of the building evaluation, here they are;

Structure, Exterior, Roof, Plumbing, Electricity, Heating, Air conditioning and heat pump, Interior, Insulation, Ventilation and finally; Personal safety.

Préparation et documentation

In order to adequately prepare for your inspection, know that it will be necessary to have read certain documents such as the Standard of Practice of the association that your inspector will provide to you.

You will also need to study the Declaration by the Seller of an Immovable which informs you of the known history in terms of damage, modification, infiltration or infestation of the premises. This document also allows you to find out about a certain type of system present in the building.

There is also the Service Agreement which will be given to you and which should be signed directly following the inspection. This document is a contract between the service provider and the customer. It will indicate the obligations of the two parties, the terms, the fees, the customer's certification, etc.

Click here in order to obtain or view the documents mentioned.

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