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FAQs on the German regulatory system for construction products and construction techniques

1. What is the applicable legal basis?

The German regulatory system for construction products and construction techniques is laid down in the 16 Building Codes of the federal states. These Building Codes are based on a common model – the Model Building Code (MBO).

The Building Codes of the federal states define the general requirements for construction works. The approval procedure for construction products and the permit procedure for construction techniques are also laid down in the Building Codes. The general requirements for construction works contained in the Building Codes are specified by Technical Building Rules. There is also a common model for these:

Which provisions apply where and for what?

  • The provisions of the federal state in which the manufacturer has his place of business apply to the marking of construction products. Foreign manufacturers without a representation in Germany are subject to the provisions of the state of Berlin.
  • The provisions of the federal state in which the construction project is carried out apply to the construction technique (i.e. the planning, design and execution of the construction works).
  • The Model Building Code and the Model Administrative Provisions – Technical Building Rules serve as templates for the corresponding federal state provisions. They are not directly applicable, but provide useful guidance.

You can see from the following document which version of the Technical Building Rules is applicable in which federal state:

2. What are the basic requirements for construction works in Germany?

Pursuant to Section 3(1) of the Model Building Code (MBO), structures must be arranged, erected, modified and maintained in such a way that public safety and order, in particular, human life, health and natural resources, are not endangered.

In order to clarify what this requirement comprises, the second half-sentence of Section 3(1) MBO refers to the basic requirements for construction works in accordance with Annex I to the Construction Products Regulation (Regulation (EU) No 305/2011). The Annex lists the following basic requirements for construction works:

  • Mechanical resistance and stability
  • Safety in case of fire
  • Hygiene, health and the environment
  • Safety and accessibility in use
  • Protection against noise
  • Energy economy and heat retention
  • Sustainable use of natural resources

3. What is a construction product?

Construction products are products, building materials, components and installations as well as construction kits which are manufactured in order to be permanently incorporated in construction works (buildings and other civil engineering works) and the use of which may have an impact on the requirements for construction works.

Construction products also comprise prefabricated structures made from products, building materials, components and kits which are manufactured to be connected to the ground (e.g. prefabricated houses, prefabricated garages and silos) and the use of which may have an impact on the requirements for construction works.

Cf. Section 2(10) MBO 2016.

4. What is a construction technique?

A construction technique is the assembly of construction products to form construction works or parts thereof.

Cf. Section 2(11) MBO 2016.

A frequently asked question is what the difference between a kit and a construction technique is.

In the Construction Products Regulation, a kit is defined as a construction product placed on the market by a single manufacturer as a set of at least two separate components. These need to be put together in order to be incorporated in the construction works.

Cf. Regulation (EU) 305/2011, Article 2(2).

The construction technique, on the other hand, comprises the planning, design and execution of construction works.

Cf. Section 2(11) MBO 2016.

5. What needs to be taken into consideration with regard to the use of construction products and the application of construction techniques?

The use of construction products and the application of construction techniques may have an impact on the essential public interests which the Building Codes seek to protect – namely public safety and order, in particular life, health and natural resources. The Building Codes therefore set out that verifications of their fitness for use or application need to be provided in specific cases.

Construction products may only be used if, in view of their use, the construction works, when properly maintained, fulfil the legal requirements and are serviceable for a period of time appropriate to the purpose.

Construction techniques may only be used if, in view of their application, the construction works, when properly maintained, fulfil the legal requirements and are serviceable for a period of time appropriate to the purpose.

It is assumed in the Building Codes that this condition is met if the economic actors observe the relevant Technical Building Rules or generally recognised technical rules (see FAQs "What are Technical Building Rules?, "What are generally recognised technical rules?").

However, the responsible economic actors are free to deviate from the Technical Building Rules. In this case, however, they may have to provide verifications showing that their construction product or technique can be safely used or applied. This is where regulatory verifications of fitness for use or application, e.g. national technical approvals, come into play.

Cf. Section 16a(1) and (2) MBO, Section 16b(1) MBO, Section 17(1) MBO and Section 85a(1) Sentence 3 MBO. See also FAQ "Which verifications of fitness for use or application exist?"

Construction products which comply with the provisions of other signatory states of the European Economic Area may be used if the level of protection required in Germany for construction works can likewise be achieved with these products on a permanent basis.

Cf. Section 16(2) MBO in conjunction with Section 3 Sentence 1 MBO.

Construction products bearing the CE marking under the Construction Products Regulation may be used if the declared performances comply with the applicable requirements set out in the Building Codes or the laws enacted on the basis of the Building Codes.

Cf. Section 16c Sentence 1 MBO.

We will explain below when verifications of fitness for use or application are required.

6. Which verifications of fitness for use or application exist?

The Building Codes differentiate between the following verifications of fitness for use for construction products and fitness for application for construction techniques:

Verifications of fitness for use for construction products

  • National technical approval (allgemeine bauaufsichtliche Zulassung, abZ)
  • National test certificate for a construction product (allgemeines bauaufsichtliches Prüfzeugnis, abP)
  • Project-related approval (Zustimmung im Einzelfall, ZiE)

Verifications of fitness for application for construction techniques

  • General construction technique permit (allgemeine Bauartgenehmigung, aBG)
  • National test certificates for a construction technique (allgemeines bauaufsichtliches Prüfzeugnis, abP)
  • Project-related construction technique permit (vorhabenbezogene Bauartgenehmigung, vBG)

Note: According to the wording of the Model Building Code, construction products are used, while construction techniques are applied.

Verifications of fitness for use (Section 17 MBO) or construction technique permits (Section 16a MBO) are not required in cases where there are generally recognised technical rules. These are rules that

  • are based on scientific principles or practical experience,
  • are recognised as correct by the majority of people working in the field, and
  • are applied by the majority of the professionals.

Generally recognised technical rules may be codified – e.g. DIN standards, DVGW and VDE guidelines. However, they may also be established trade rules.

7. When do I need a national technical approval?

You need a national technical approval if

  • there are no Technical Building Rules and no generally recognised technical rules for the construction product (see FAQs "What are Technical Building Rules?", "What are generally recognised technical rules?"),
  • your construction product deviates significantly from the Technical Building Rules
    (cf. Part C 1 MVV TB) or
  • a legal provision stipulates so.

The most important tool for determining in a specific case whether your construction product requires approval is the Technical Building Rules. The provisions of the relevant federal state apply. However, as a first step you can refer to the Model Administrative Provisions – Technical Building Rules on which the state provisions are based.

Exceptions and alternatives

You do not need a national technical approval if

  • the Administrative Provisions – Technical Building Rules provide for a national test certificate instead of an approval (cf. MVV TB Part C 3),
  • your construction product is CE-marked under the Construction Products Regulation (cf. Section 16c Sentence 2 MBO and FAQ "Which provisions apply to construction products harmonised under the Construction Products Regulation?"),
  • you only want to use the construction product for one specific construction project and therefore opt for a project-related approval instead of a national technical approval (cf. Section 20 MBO),
  • your construction product is listed in the relevant Administrative Provisions – Technical Building Rules under Part D 2 (construction products which are of lesser regulatory importance or which are covered by other certification or approval systems),
  • there are generally recognised technical rules for the construction product (see FAQ "What are generally recognised technical rules?").

In most cases, you should be able to see by yourself from the Administrative Provisions – Technical Building Rules whether an approval or another verification of fitness for use is required for your construction product. If you are not sure whether or which verification requirements apply to your construction product, please send us an email with detailed technical information on your product and its intended use.

8. When do I need a general construction technique permit?

You need a general construction technique permit if

  • there are no generally recognised technical rules for the construction technique (see FAQ "What are generally recognised technical rules?") or
  • the construction technique deviates significantly from the Technical Building Rules.

The most important tool for determining in a specific case whether your construction technique requires a construction technique permit is the Technical Building Rules. The provisions of the relevant federal state apply. However, as a first step you can refer to the Model Administrative Provisions – Technical Building Rules on which the state provisions are based.

Exceptions and alternatives

You do not need a general construction technique permit if

  • the Administrative Provisions – Technical Building Rules provide for a national test certificate instead of a construction technique permit (cf. MVV TB Part C 4),
  • you only want to use the construction technique for one specific construction project and therefore opt for a project-related construction technique permit instead of a general construction technique permit (cf. Section 16a(2) no. 2 MBO),
  • the supreme building authority has generally determined that a construction technique permit is not required in a specific case or for clearly defined cases,
  • there are generally recognised technical rules for the construction technique (see FAQ "What are generally recognised technical rules?").

In most cases, you should be able to see by yourself from the Administrative Provisions – Technical Building Rules whether a general construction technique permit or another verification of fitness for application is required for your construction technique. If you are not sure whether or which verification requirements apply to your construction technique, please send us an email with detailed technical information on your construction technique and its intended application.

9. When do I need a national test certificate for my construction product or construction technique and where can I obtain it?

A national test certificate is issued for construction products and construction techniques which can be evaluated on the basis of generally recognised test methods. You can find an exhaustive list of these products in the Administrative Provisions – Technical Building Rules (cf. MVV TB Parts C 3 and C 4).

National test certificates can only be issued by testing laboratories which are officially recognised for this purpose (cf. Section 16a(3), Section 19(2) and Section 24 MBO). To find a recognised testing laboratory, consult Part III of the following list.

10. What is a project-related approval, when does it make sense and where do I obtain it?

A project-related approval is a kind of verification of fitness for use for construction products. You can apply for a project-related approval instead of a national technical approval if you only want to use the construction product for one specific construction project.

Project-related approvals are usually granted by the supreme building authority of the federal state in which the construction project is carried out.

Cf. Section 20 MBO.

For construction projects in the state of Berlin, you can obtain your project-related approval directly from DIBt.

The competent authority may decree on a case-by-case basis that its approval is not required (waiver) if there are no foreseeable risks.

Cf. Section 20 MBO.

11. What is a project-related construction technique permit, when does it make sense and where do I obtain it?

A project-related construction technique permit is a specific kind of verification of fitness for application for construction techniques. You can apply for a project-related construction technique permit instead of a national technical approval if you only want to use the construction product for one specific construction project.

Project-related construction technique permits are usually granted by the supreme building authority of the federal state in which the construction project is carried out.

Cf. Section 16a(2) no. 2 MBO.

For construction projects in the state of Berlin, you can obtain your project-related construction technique permit directly from DIBt.

The competent authority may decree that a construction technique permit is not required (waiver) if there are no foreseeable risks.

Cf. Section 16a(4) MBO.

12. What are Technical Building Rules?

In accordance with Section 85a of the Model Building Code, the general requirements for construction works can be specified by Technical Building Rules. The Technical Building Rules must be complied with. However, it is possible to deviate from the planning, design and execution rules contained in the Technical Building Rules if the requirements are met to the same extent by another solution and a deviation is not excluded in the Technical Building Rules.

Cf. Section 85a MBO.

The Technical Building Rules are published as administrative provisions. After consultation of the stakeholders and notification, DIBt publishes the Model Administrative Provisions – Technical Building Rules following the consensus of all federal states. The federal states transpose the model into state law. In doing so, they are not bound by the wording of the model. Some provisions are laid down in the MVV TB itself (see, for example, Part A 2 – Safety in case of fire), but in many cases reference is made to existing technical rules (see, for example, Part A 1 – Mechanical resistance and stability).

13. What are generally recognised technical rules?

Generally recognised technical rules are rules that

  • are based on scientific principles or practical experience,
  • are recognised as correct by the majority of people working in the field, and
  • are applied by the majority of the professionals.

Generally recognised technical rules may be codified – e.g. DIN standards, DVGW and VDE guidelines. However, they may also be established trade rules.

In cases in which there are generally recognised technical rules, no verification of fitness for use or application is required.

14. Which provisions apply to harmonised construction products under the Construction Products Regulation?

For construction products bearing the CE marking under the Construction Products Regulation (Regulation (EU) No 305/2011), the national requirements for verification of fitness for use do not apply.

These construction products may be used if the declared performances correspond to the requirements for such use in Germany.

Cf. Section 16c MBO.

In some cases, the national requirements for construction works are not fully reflected in the harmonised standards. For these standards, the building authorities have drawn up recommendations on how product performance can be stated on a voluntary basis in the technical documentation. Germany is committed to improving these standards as quickly as possible.

If products bearing the CE marking under other EU harmonisation acts (e.g. the Machinery Directive) are used as construction products, their fitness for use may have to be verified. Compare, for example, the provisions in MVV TB Part B 3.

15. Which construction products bear the national conformity mark (Ü-Zeichen) and which national confirmation of conformity procedures exist?

The Building Codes of the federal states stipulate that the manufacturer must declare that his construction product complies with the Technical Building Rules, the national technical approval, the national test certificate or the project-related approval. This confirmation of conformity is provided by marking the construction product with the national conformity mark (Ü-Zeichen).

Cf. Section 21 MBO.

A prerequisite for the declaration of conformity is that the manufacturer has set up a factory production control system to ensure that the construction product complies with the relevant technical rules on a permanent basis. Where required, the manufacturer must also use the services of a recognised testing laboratory or an inspection or certification body.

The requirements for the confirmation of conformity are specified in the verification of fitness for use or in the Technical Building Rules. The following abbreviations are used in the Technical Building Rules:

  • ÜH: Declaration of conformity by the manufacturer (without involvement of a testing, inspection or certification body)
  • ÜHP: Declaration of conformity by the manufacturer after prior testing of the construction product by a recognised testing laboratory
  • ÜZ: Certificate of conformity by a recognised certification body with external monitoring of the factory production control by a recognised inspection body.

The national conformity mark (Ü-Zeichen) is only intended for construction products which comply with the Technical Building Rules or a verification of fitness for use, e.g. an approval. Other construction products as well as construction techniques are not marked in this way.

16. Is a confirmation of conformity also required for construction techniques?

The provisions on conformity marking and factory production control do not apply to construction techniques. However, a confirmation of conformity with the Technical Building Rules, the general construction technique permit, the national test certificate or the project-related construction technique permit is also required for construction techniques.

Cf. Section 16a(5) in conjunction with Section 21(2) MBO.

The executing company issues a declaration of conformity in which it declares that the construction technique complies with the Technical Building Rules, the general construction technique permit, the national test certificate or the project-related construction technique permit.

Note: Construction techniques are not subject to national conformity marking.

17. What are evaluations of compliance with regulatory requirements for construction works after installation of product?

DIBt can provide evaluations for economic actors who wish to provide evidence on a voluntary basis that the German requirements for construction works are met when using their harmonised (CE-marked) construction product.

Such verification is recommended in cases where the harmonised construction product standards do not fully reflect the national requirements for construction works.

The procedure for providing voluntary product performance information in the technical documentation of a harmonised construction product is set out in Part D 3 of the Administrative Provisions – Technical Building Rules. The harmonised construction product standards concerned can be found in the Priority list for the revision of deficient harmonised construction product standards.

More information on DIBt evaluations

Useful documents

Dr Justus Achelis
Head of Section – National Law, Coordination ARGEBAU, European and International Law

Phone +49 30 78730-337
Fax +49 30 78730-11337
Email jac@dibt.de