Last week I contacted a couple of local tradesmen out of the pages jaune to do some sandblasting of my vaulted ceiling (my friends and builders didn't know anyone to recommend as they'd never used this service). Anyway the first one turned up without a tape measure or ladder. He walked around the house, shaking his head telling me it's definitely not 3 days work. More head shaking and Yes it's a lot of work. Yes it's a sacre boulot, sacre chantier, yes Madame your house is immense. Have you thought about cleaning off your walls? I could sandblast those...the Euro signs were literally rolling round his eyes.
I tried calming him down by telling him I AM actually prepared to go up on scaffolding 4m high and replaster the ceiling if the sandblasting wasn't an option as we DONT have budget anyway but our windows chap suggested it wouldn't cost too much to do as he'd done it himself in a few days on his house (but sadly as it's a messy job he didn't volunteer to do it again - I DID ask!)
I wasn't warming to the first sandblasting chap at all, everything he said was irritating me. He kept going on about a job he'd done for other Anglais in a village nearby which immediately made me think he was going to try to stitch me. He wouldn't give me a price per m2 (which I have had for nearly every other part of the work we've done in the house) and kept saying I'll do a forfait pour vous Madame. My skin was itching. Next I told him I only wanted the lower part of the beams cleaned off neatly as the upper parts would be covered by wood fibre insulation. He insisted he couldn't do that and had to do the beams the same all over. I then said I didn't want 2 of the beams doing as they will be hidden in the roof cupboards so I would just use a wire brush myself. He said oh Madame I will do those for free. Yes really free.
So eventually after much umming and aahing over how big a job it was, I ushered him out and he said he would need to come back the next day to measure up. I phoned him later and gave him the measurements myself. 40m2 and 7 beams of 9m long 35cm deep. He insisted on coming back the next day. He turned up with his dad this time and the two of them repeated yesterdays performance. Much moustache twizzling and trying to work out how much money they could get for the job. Then they tried to say I had betes in the roof beams (which I know there are not, the mark they were pointing to was one the builder did when taking the chimney out).
They still didn't bring a tape measure! He wanted the plans for my house, I said please do the quote based on 40m2 and 7 x 9m2 long beams.
He then said he wanted 150 euro to do a test and would deduct this from the fee if I accepted his revised quote. He told me that the job he did for les anglais was 3000 euro for 5 beams that were about a third the length of mine). I knew at this point his estimate would be ridiculously high. I asked him to email me the quote and I would see about a test if the quote was acceptable.
Next day he called me asking why he hadn't had my plans. I said he doesn't need them and anyway I sent him my email address for the quote yesterday. He then asked if I had any other quotes. I said yes of course, I have requested others. Doh! What did he think I was stupid?!? Surprisingly I haven't heard back from him yet.
Next came another company who immediately were open with pricing per m2, were very clear on TTC and HT, outlined the scaffolding cost, the clean up cost and the risk of having to do a second pass if the first pass wasn't sufficient. This quote was sent within 2 days and is in my opinion reasonable for the work. The chap was professional, highlighted risks but didn't overegg them, he was interested in the ecological aspects of the project and noticed those aspects not just the size of the house. He came with a tape measure and a sample of all the different grades of sand and explained which he would use for which job and why.
Two totally different experiences, one will get the work if we go ahead and have the budget and one definitely won't. I'm happy that the devis I have actually received is inline with the average price for this type of work (I regularly check french building forums for price per m2). If you can research the term in french I highly recommend this as there are lots of french forums where individuals share their costs so you can be sure you are not being arnaquer (ripped off).
I have no doubt that I must seem an easy target for some - being English, female and carrying a toddler round the building site, but I'm not naive, believe me Monsieur Moustache I've had to deal with far more Merde on this project than you would ever believe and so your dodgy sales techniques won't work on me!
Onwards and Upwards...to the roof beams and beyond. Eventually.