Builder and devis

In essence, I have had some work done for which the builder submitted a comprehensive devis, duly accepted. He completed the work, to a satisfactory standard, but is now trying to charge me an extra 300 euros for work which he says he hadn't anticipated, and I think is implicit in, and therefore covered by, the devis.

I hold the moral high ground. Is the legal high ground also mine, or is he permitted to add extras on without agreement?

I can be more specific is that is required.

As an update to this discussion, and after much entrenched position taking, I enlisted the help of of John Dislins, whose solicitor sent my builder a letter explaining his legal position to him very succinctly. I have heard nothing from him since.

So I have no hesitation in recommending Mr Dislins and for the maximum effect for minimum fuss in my case.

well said mate...the people getting 'ripped' in France would probably be the same people getting 'ripped' in England...and the reason is because they think everything is black and white, everything can be encompassed in a bit of essence, they haven't got a clue about practical things but are great with pieces of paper, filing cabinets and elastic bands.

Thanks Nick, that would be very helpful. I have sent you a friend request.

This is my bread and butter, but on a much larger scale. The same principles apply. If you (contractor) think me (client) has changed something and the job is going to cost more. Please tell me first and if I agree, I’ll authorise a change. If there is no change, please carry out the work you quoted me for.

Mark, If you want any further advice on this, please feel free to contact me. All my advice to SFN members is completely free of charge.

Best regards

Ja, siret, reklamieren und Kunden verarschen - ulkig, nicht wahr?

strange, from a certain age onward it seems someone does not cares to be less and less honest ;-) (Hihi, darum hab ich mit Jura abgebrochen und KW studiert, - because the old man was saying something very similar about his life experiance) And isn't it a bid odd to have a siret # but making ads and nobody cares...

Yes, I agree, that is what we are doing. We are, nonetheless, asking for as many devis as possible and actually set out to try to find one woodworker who would do the whole job. The only one who said he would is not French, not a registered woodworker although he has his siret, etc and advertises himself as one and had the most dubious devis anyway. So now we are looking for two registered woodworkers, a menuisier and a charpentier, who will work together. The one who came on Tuesday does work on jobs with our local menuisier who is making us some windows anyway, so it looks like this recent charpentier might well be the one we use.

Half of my problem is that I am the son of a builder. Many years ago whilst working with them on a site, my old man, his partner (totally honest, best bricklayer of all time!) and their two labourers were talking about other small house builders. My father turned and said to me: Whatever you do or know, never trust a builder. I have never forgotten that advice.

Yes I have spoken to him, and we are in contact by email now. I think we have both adopted positions of principle. The sad thing is I wanted him to do more work for me, but now will not use him for fear of devis which have no meaning.

Brian, if you have more, larger worxs 2b done, it better to choose a registered constructor. My experience is his fee is approximately the sum of the HT. That releases you from having hassle with each "expert", but more importantly there is then more respect for a time schedule. And as a independent you have benefits on HT.

Mark, you are really objective regarding this open question and seem to bother you... The last sentences says it all...;-) Still: in France you can find very, very skilled craftsmen. You can find those committed to what they do, but they are booked out long before... Basically, I think many of them are just fed up with all those additional costs they must pay just to run their activities. And I'm not against "public service culture" per se, but think 'les fonctionnaires' must have a minimum level of education so they are equipped to see who is actually paying them (called servis) but it's wrong to insinuate pure malice. Similarly I think if you are happy with the results of the work and if you can see the person has spent clearly more time as it was 'foreseeable' then simply it is an everyday experience that not all steps of a specific project are not foreseeable. If everything would be foreseeable, why so many more disastrous results are happen when elected people had been voted into a job to take political responsibility? Or do they do their (t)error out of pure ignorance?

I looked over some of the ones we have to consider for work later this year, all from charpentiers and menuisiers, the estimates are quite amazingly far apart in most cases. Anyway, a couple of them have a clause of the kind you say and one is very specific about price hikes and raised delivery charges being taken into account but itemised by him in the event. The ones to look out for are more those who ask for a reasonable advance, bulk of the money during the work and a tiny percentage on completion. As more than one person who knows has warned, that helps them walk away from an uncompleted job with only a little due that if anybody took action and they had to finish they would then get. However, as two artisans have said, a few sly buggers estimate that little final payment in the advance and bulk knowing they can walk away and how hard it is to then get them to finish the work. The local menuisier who we know very well anyway said that more than a few of them know that it will make some work for somebody else who may well find something that needs fixing. As like as not the second one in knows the first, will knock him like hell face to face with you and then laugh about it over a beer. Properly qualified woodworkers who are members of the Chambre des Professionnels du Bois do not do that because they are penalised and, as he says, other trades in their associations likewise. Use people who are chambre de métiers members to lower the risks all round. The devis we have had that are dodgy are on the one hand two foreign and one French artisans and on the other not chambre members, they have all been dishonest about being able to supply work for which we can benefit from crédit d'impôt although the department does not list their names which we check after we have the devis.

So, all round, in reality if people want to be thorough they need to dig a bit. However, despite the difference in estimates we have had, the people are generally very precise and seem only to have different ideas about one tricky bit of the job where, my gut feeling tells me anyway, probably the one who asked the highest price actually has the best solution. So, coming from a Scot this might be strange, but do not try to save by taking the lowest quote without careful consideration. It costs an awful lot to put right what was done badly on the cheap.

Just out of interested, have you actually had a conversation with him about this and told him that you are not willng to pay the additional fee because he did not agree it with you first? I got ripped off recently, but in my typically passive-agressive Britsh way, I did not actually speak to the person in question about my dissatisfaction. I simply paid the bill and then moaned about it. Have you spoken to him?

Thank you for all the responses. My (possibly flawed) understandingof devis is that they are estimates until signed and dated, when they become quotes. You are legally not permitted to add to them without agreement.

In my opinion he fulfilled the devis exactly as stated.

In his opinion he did more work than he thought he was going to have to do, although only in terms of his time.

In my opinion this is the swings and roundabouts of this type of work, which an experienced workman, which he is, would cater for in the devis. It's my opinion that he's "trying it on" but I do need to know where I stand legally.

As for the English/ French workmen debate, he happens to be English, but only because the three French workers I approached for an estimate never got back to me.

Unless things have changed Theo an estimate is the amount deemed payable after the execution of work or services carried out. That estimated figure, which is subject to strict rules and regs cannot be changed without the accord of the two parties so any later amendment has to be agreed by all parties. Most of the 'devis' i've signed with artisans have included the clause stating etra charges may be payable in the event of unforseen expenses. It's up to the artisan or service provider to inform the client before carrying out the extra work.

This sort of thing also goes on all the time in the UK. I was often called in to try and sort out very nasty messes. Example: a lady of a certain age lived alone in a terraced house in London. The flat roof (no access possible without ladders and the building three storey above the street) began leaking. She went to the Yellow Pages and rang the first firm listed (always something like AAA Trusty Roofing or something similar no office address just a mobile number) who came around quick as a flash and gave her an "estimate" in writing which she accepted by signing it. She didn't get any other quotes and the quote was inflated anyway and specified felt roofing which I would personally never use on such a property as it tends to be done by rogues and has a very short life-inappropriate for a valuable house today worth going on for £1.75 million.) They did the work quick as a flash- she then panicked and asked me to come in and inspect the work. The only access was the roofers ladder which bounced merrily and they grudgingly provided. The best I could do was to demand some remedial work but in limited areas only. She had signed the contract so Trading Standards were not very interested. Such traders knowingly pray on the public and are frequently very intimidating rough people, here today and gone tomorrow. Best to go for a known local firm and also best to get alternative quotes. Local firms in France are frequently booked up ages in advance but do depend on a good local reputation especially if in a specific commune. Don't go for firms with massive sales campaigns etc.

Ok, then this rule seems to be out-dated (remembered this possibility with estimate made for OH's car).

Have had recently a very similar case where OH got approached by 2 nice gentlemen who offered to wash the façade. Quickly they came from 2k to 3 k if they do some other work as well (roof tiles and changing those broken) To have my peace and no argument with OH I agreed as I always do ;-). Then the façade experts came when it suited them, not the agreed time, then they invented this and that foggy issue. After just 2 days he wanted 4k for replacing 8 roof tiles en toto. OH had given him 2000 per cheque, now he insisted on another 2000 on the black. As I disagreed, especially the "black-cash-donation", he became a bit agitated and amusingly enough he tried to threaten really physically till he felt his solar plexus as he run into my finger while he came too close. That must have hurt him and he begun whining to explain another new version of service, - that in September they would do this and that. At this point I really lost patience because suddenly my dogs did not like him for the way he was talking. Finally to cut the story short, they only got the cheque of 2000 OH had given them even before they had started any work. End of story. What a fuss they had made, such drama, but they left and never came back. Must have been so frustrated about stupid foreigner couple resisting a sweet demand. At least they knew at court they would not stay a change.

I agree with Nick

No Theo. the principal is : if you are going to engage me for more than agreed, tell me first.

Agreeing with Debbie Wade through my own experience its the Britts that rip you off in France!