The QAA - consequence classes and quality assurance

The QAA sets stricter requirements for the designing, building and handover of construction works. To determine what requirements apply to which construction activities, it uses a system of 'consequence classes' (‘gevolgklassen’). In short, these are the classes into which construction works can be categorised based on the scope of potential risks associated with failing to meet the required quality standards. The lower the consequence class, the fewer the expected consequences in the case of construction defects. For the next five years, the quality assurance system will only apply to construction works within consequence class 1. It is still unclear when and how the QAA will come into effect for the remaining consequence classes.

Consequence class 1 includes a range of construction activities as specified in the Structures (Living Environment) Decree (Besluit bouwwerken leefomgeving) (SLED). These include ground-level single-family houses, houseboats, holiday homes and small business premises such as warehouses or workshops.

Construction works within consequence class 1 no longer require an environmental permit for a (technical) construction activity under the QAA. Instead, a construction notification must be submitted to the municipal executive four weeks before the start of construction works.

The QAA also introduces a system of quality assurance. This requires the party undertaking the construction works to draw up a construction plan and implement it during the construction. To this end, an independent quality assurer must be engaged to supervise the quality of construction and assess the work performance. The construction work should only be handed over once the quality assurer has given its approval.

Construction notification (bouwmelding) and quality assurance during construction

In addition to the quality assurance system, the QAA introduces a new procedure for starting construction projects, known as the construction notification.

According to Section 2.18 SLED, a construction notification must be submitted to the municipal executive at least four weeks prior to the start of construction. This notification was introduced to enable the competent authority (typically the municipal executive of the municipality) to take enforcement measures if necessary. If the construction works do not start within a year of the initial notification, the construction notification must be resubmitted.

The construction notification must contain, among other things, the following information:

  1. identification of the chosen (private) quality assurer;
  2. the method of quality assurance used by the quality assurer;

  3. a risk assessment, identifying the construction risks; and

  4. an assurance plan, describing the way the quality assurer deals with such risks.

The construction notification requires the party undertaking the construction works to appoint a quality assurer to assess the building plan and make a risk assessment well ahead of the scheduled start of construction works. The risk assessment is used when preparing a quality assurance plan.

During construction, the quality assurer is also responsible for implementation of the assurance plan and supervision of the construction and building plan. If there are inconsistencies between the construction plan and its implementation, the quality assurer is obliged to report this to all the involved parties (including the contractor) and the principal. Any potential issues that cannot be resolved during construction must also be reported to the competent authority. In more serious cases, the competent authority may decide to suspend the construction works until the issue is satisfactorily resolved.

Completion notification (gereedmelding)

On completion of the construction works, the party undertaking the construction works is responsible for submitting a completion notification, including a quality assurer's declaration. This notification constitutes the core of the new system. The completion notification process starts with the declaration of the quality assurer, confirming that the new construction meets the technical requirements stipulated in the SLED. Without a completion notification, construction works cannot legally be used (not to be confused with the user notification (gebruiksmelding), also required under the SLED).

The completion notification must be submitted to the competent authority at least two weeks prior to the actual occupation of the construction works. The notification must contain, among other things, the following information:

  1. the identity of the person submitting the construction notification;

  2. a description of the construction activity;

  3. the declaration of the quality assurer; and

  4. detailed information and documents demonstrating that the construction works comply with the relevant technical construction requirements.

The competent authority may assess whether the completion notification is complete and correct. In instances where the notification is deemed incomplete, the competent authority is expected to inform the person submitting it as the construction works may not be put into use in such cases. The construction works may only be used two weeks after the submission of complete and accurate information to the competent authority. This new procedure transfers the responsibility for substantive testing against construction requirements to private quality assurers. Consequently, within the new system, the role of the competent authority is limited to assessing the completion notification, while the quality assurer is responsible for ensuring that the construction works meet the prescribed technical requirements.

What will the QAA mean for contractors?

Under the QAA, contractors can be held accountable for compliance with the construction requirements throughout the construction process. Contractors will need to work closely with quality assurers, as they must demonstrate that the construction works meet the requirements of the SLED. Contractors will also have to ensure the timely delivery of all relevant and supporting documentation during the construction process.

The QAA also brings a greater level of protection for the principal. For instance, post-completion of the construction works, the contractor generally remains liable for defects that could have been discovered at the time of handover, unless these defects cannot be attributed to the contractor. This requires diligent documentation and monitoring of the construction process, which should result in more transparency and increased quality of construction works. It is relevant to note that the QAA contains rules of semi-mandatory law. Consequently, deviations cannot be made to the detriment of construction consumers ("non-professional principals"), while professional parties may agree on deviations in their construction agreement.

In conclusion

The QAA introduces a significant change to the Dutch construction sector. The new system partially shifts the responsibility for construction supervision from public-law authorities to private-law parties. Key aspects of this shift include the introduction of the construction notification and the completion notification processes, as well as the cooperation between contractors and quality assurers in order to demonstrate compliance with all construction requirements.


Would you like more information or to have a conversation on this topic? Please do not hesitate to contact one of the contact persons below.