You must be still living in London. He who shouts the loudest is usually covering up his own faults.Civil Engineer for 40 years dealing with contractors and subbies. South of England is bandit country. It is cut throat, I have only minimal dealings with the French but they seem, especially in the rural areas, fairly honest. Quotations and estimates are a nightmare. Anyway "US BRITS" and "THEM" says it all.
The devis IS a legally binding contract. It is an estimate of the final amount payable. Usually when there may be some ambiguity with the final price the artisan or whoever may add something like " plus autres charges imprévues" or similar to indicate extras may be added if unforseen things were discovered. Typically during something like a refurbishment of a roof the roofer may find he needs to change more timber that he thought so he will add that on at the end, after having notified the client first. The rules concerning the establishment of a devis are quite clear.
Ditto. The French artisans we have employed have been excellent. The only time we were ripped off was when we used a Brit ‘builder’ (we couldn’t get a French artisan on this occasion).
This sort of thing goes on wherever there is building work, particularly on existing buildings, and where it is is indeed possible for extra work to be required either because of things discovered during the work on site, but, it has to be said, beacuse the customer changes his mind or delays the project by not making decisions or making them late. I worked as an architect in London for nearly forty years and the majority of our work was on existing buildings, many of them listed, or in a very dilapidated condition. Our clients were generally at the top end of the market and very demanding. It was essential to get the brief agreed (in writing) and to fully explain the process to the client. We then used to write an extremely detailed specification and schedule of works which was usually about 70 pages long, or more. That was then priced by tenderers and on that basis the contract was eventually placed. We always recommended a provisional sum to cover unforeseen work, usually between 5 and 10% of the contract. That could only be expended by express authority of the architect. There were other provisional sums to cover items which may go up or down according to final client cost. All expenditure was controlled by the architect. Frequently contractors ladelled on extras (the larger ones had surveyors just to claim extras) while some clients tried to get changes done for nothing or disagreed my evaluation of extras (usually without avail). The architect has to act as an arbitrator in such matters and be fair (or stand up to) to both parties. I also acted as an expert witness in cases where an argument had developed between a contractor and a client. These arguments can usually be avoided where proper preliminary work is done but now clients often shortcut the process by not appointing a professional to prepare a good set of documents and where the potential is there for later arguments between the contractor and client. Every client these days thinks that he or she is as qualified as a properly experienced architect or project manager and it's a recipe for disaster and high stress. The French system puts the onus on the contractor to prepare the devis which is often short on content and if the client doesn't understand the technical nature of the work or the language then the result is easy to predict. I always used to tell clients that the building industry is not for those of a nervous disposition. These are not new problems, just well known ones that people chose to forget and then later end up with the usual tales of woe.
In our experience the only time we've been 'ripped off' or an attempt has been made it's by Brits! All the French we've used have been fair, never added extras and in two cases actually reduced the price after completing the work because they'd erred on the side of caution in the devis.
My understanding is that a dévis is an estimate. Just because you sign off on it does not make it a legally binding contract. It is still an approximation. If you want a fixed price, you have to get them to sign off on a "prix fixte" - and even then you may get some push back. It's taken me a while to realise that this is a big cultural difference between teh UK and France, and when undertaking work with French artisans, you really need to deal with them in a French, rather than British way.
What a strange part of France you live in Anthony. Constantly buffeted by the winds of scammery and rip off.
We have problems, but a lot of it is not scams, but inefficiency or, in the case of devis unforeseen items.
As stated, a devis is an estimate and not a fixed price contract, so it is not fair to equate the two.
It would have been better if the workman mentioned that there would be an extra cost beforehand, but sometimes if people are not available and they want the work finished by a certain time, that is not possible.
You say that "last time you failed to pay" as though this is some kind of triumph. Be careful or you will not have people working for you at all.
In fact it needs to be 'negotiated'. It must be thoroughly discussed so that you know what had to be done, how and why it was not foreseen, what the materials and time involved were and demand it in writing. Even a 'comprehensive' devis may not be entirely correct and it is possible for one piece of work to lead to another unforeseen thing. Given the €300 is actually quite little in terms of working time plus materials, it hardly seems worth the effort charging that much extra. If he can't justify it or itemise extra materials then he may well just walk away.
I agree with Gerald in effect but find that Anthony's attitude is totally bizarre. We know very well that just about every try on is done to French and has nothing to do with 'Brits being walked on' whatsoever. Because we are having quotes for work we cannot do ourselves at present, we are sometimes fighting an uphill battle to get everything included in the estimates. The people coming in forget things, so we are expecting them to have extras if we sign a devis. We know full well that a devis is an estimate and that it is a commitment to use the artisan once signed and agreed but it is not a formal contract. Properly defined it is in two parts:
Le devis descriptif, qui indique en détail la position et les dimensions générales de la construction, les distributions et les dimensions particulières, la nature, la qualité, la quantité et le mode d'emploi des matériaux, et enfin le mode d'exécution des travaux;
Le devis estimatif, qui énonce le prix détaillé de tous les matériaux et de la main-d'œuvre, et se termine par un résumé exprimant le prix total de la construction, si elle est faite à forfait. Après avoir établi les plans et devis, le propriétaire et l'architecte dressent le marché. C'est un acte contenant les clauses et conditions générales, suivant lesquelles le propriétaire et l'entrepreneur qui sera choisi s'engageront, chacun de son côté, à exécuter les travaux conformément aux plans et devis qui demeureront annexés au marché. Les devis et le marché, réunis ensemble, constituent ce qu'on appelle le cahier des charges.
The second part of that legally correct definition specifically explains the fact it is an estimate, forget some of the details like architect, and put it in context. If it is explained and your builder can put it on paper then he could easily take the claim to law and ultimately cost you more. If he is local, he runs the risk that if he is playing silly buggers that you might warn other people, thus cost him work and reputation. It takes a real fool to wade in it up to their neck without doing themselves damage. Thus far on work we have had done we have two things that have been done badly for which we have withheld payment plus a devis at present that is 'loaded' so we cannot trust. All of them non-French artisans (only one is a Brit) and because we use local people who sometimes start out costing a bit more than others not so local, we have had only good quality work to a good standard and have actually experienced the bill cut because the artisan did less days than estimated. So, no the French are not 'like that'.
I am SOOOOOO sick off a rip-off everyday, a new scam everyday! I am getting it everyday and you are getting it too Mark. Tell him to PLUCK off! and tell him you are going to Saisir le Tribunal! Last time I failed to pay a workman, he cut off my gas supply. He took me to court for non-payment, I counter claimed and he ended up paying me some money! Everytime I unfortunately run into him in a DIY store, restaurant or whatever, he mutters under his breath and calls me "Bastard". IS THAT FAIR PLAY? Gerald Stubbs? NO. Kick this guy's ass and us Brits should stop being walked on in this country. I am sick of it. The French are rip-off merchants, fraudsters and tricksters. Mark Johnston has yet another example. If he claims non payment and sends it to Tribunal for non-payment, you have to mount a defence. Essential to this is that he did not appear to give you any forewarning? Good luck.
Stop being so 'fair play'! Are the French like that? NO! When in Rome. Play be their rules. Don't pay him any extra.
If you look at the devis and the extra work is listed then he is wrong. If the extra work is not listed and had to be done to complete the job to a satisfactory standard then you should pay him, no ? In the latter case it would be work that was not invisaged originally but which had to be done .
Hi, I’m new here and found this thread through a google search.
I’ve recently had two concrete floors laid at my house in 85 and the devis quoted digging down to a certain depth and filling back in with gravel and to use reinforcement mesh in the concrete, neither of which were done and instead a fibre was added to the concrete mix to prevent cracking. I paid for the concrete to the supplier separately.
At the end of the job which was done unsatisfactorily and is a lumpy mess, the builder took off the cost of the mesh and gravel, but added another 500 Euro’s in labour.
Now we are unhappy with the work completed, but have sent him a cheque to complete the original quoted labour as full and final payment to fulfill our requirements as per the devis we agreed on.
He in return has said he is giving us seven days to pay the rest or he is going to a hussier de justice.
I’ve had two of us spend a day correcting just one room and have even had to put down another damp course as his was breached in 80% of the room.
I’m now back in the UK but my wife is worried about the consequences of us not paying these extras he has added.
Our points are he didn’t do the labour to dig the floor down, my neighbour took photos as we weren’t there at the time.
He didn’t have to shovel and spread and level the gravel.
He didn’t have to set the wire mesh.
He didn’t ensure the damp course was up the walls far enough and was the covered by the concrete breaching the membrane.
He put insulation down flat against the walls, so we have had to go round with a dry mix and fill in all his poor work.
He tamped the concrete down in different directions so looks a mess
Finally he didn’t float the concrete when it was partially set so leaving lumps and bumps everywhere.
I feel we have been more than generous in paying his original labour price and are trying to make sure we are correct in our stance.
Hi Richard. Sorry for the mess.
A signed devis is a contract legally binding on both parties, one to do the job described, the other to pay the agreed amount. But no more. Any extra work done, or money demanded must be agreed by both parties via a separate signed devis. Any hussier will tell him that. In my, exact same, case, I got in touch with John Dislins via Survive France. His lawyer wrote a letter explaining the situation, with legal references, and the threats stopped.
I was determined not to be extorted out of unearned money, but the threat of being faced with the French legal system was very daunting.
I wish you luck, and if you need any more advice, or moral support, let me know.
A signed devis is binding to a point Mark but if Richard has ‘corrected’ work done by the builder then that would make it null and void to some extent . An Huissier would consider the fact that the builder’s work has been altered or ‘corrected’ surely ? Richard (IMO) should have called an Huissier when the builder had ‘finished’ the job to confirm the shoddy workmanship ?
Richard… did you list the items you felt were lacking or poorly done… when you sent payment ??
Hi everyone, thank you for your replies, I’m not interested in chasing him for the costs and time that I’ve had to incur, but I will counter claim if he proceeds as it seems to be the only way to defend myself.
We have spoken by email about the issues and got nowhere, with him claiming that as the overall costs of the devis are similar we should be paying for it all.
We see it as we didn’t get the goods that were quoted for in the original devis and that he didn’t bother doing the extra work or discuss with me doing or not doing so.
I also needed the house back together in readiness for my family and friends arriving for their holiday.
We weren’t there at the time but luckily for us our French neighbour took photographs of his preparation work. I have also taken photos of all the correctional work I’ve done and the garage hasn’t had any work done on it at all.
Mm… just wondering if there is a clause in your Insurances or if you have a separate policy which aids/helps you chase a Supplier/Enterprise (whatever) in cases such as this…
You have a good idea, we’re with AXA. I’ll get Judith to talk to our insurance agent.