Electrician packed in his business

Hello everyone,

my first post. Only 6 weeks until I get to 65 to live in my house. Hooray. 3 years of renovation from long distance wasn't too easy as I'm sure you'll appreciate.

Not all the renovation is complete (is it ever!); the electrician has decided to pack up his self employed business and is working for, I'm told, the council. Problem is that he has not finished his work for us and it is a re-wire - new electric box, spots, sockets, etc, etc. He has sent us his facture for work completed and wants prompt settlement. Where does this leave us? Not happy to pay a final payment without seeing the work (not there until 6 weeks). How do we agree a final payment? What about a guarantee? Any ideas/thoughts on what next ?

Thanks in anticipation.

Hello Kaz and welcome to the group.

My feeling is definitely don't pay for anything unfinished or unseen and don't agree to pay the final amount until you have had chance to inspect it. Under the 'reasonable circumstances' type laws which usually govern in these matterall over the EU, it seems reasonable to argue that he knew full well when he made the devis, that you were living in the UK and could therefore not reasonably expect a payment until you could arrange travel to view the work.

It is unfortunate that he has had to give up, but whatever the circumstances of that decision, it can't be part of your responsibility and I doubt any legal proceedings would be upheld or even issued to force you to pay under those circumstances. He sounds desperate for the payment, but he should accept you need a clear agreement first.

My experience of the Chambre de Commerce is of a double edged sword. They can be helpful but I was given the wrong information by the same officer several times, that affected my ability to trade for 3 years.

I doubt you need more than a calm assuring chat with the electrician to explain that you are not able to agree a final price until you have checked the work first and that you are very sorry he has to wait, but that he must realise you cannot bring forward your move.

There are tonnes of positive responses here, I particularly like Henrys, for a plan of how to go about assessing the work. Good luck,

Thanks Shirley. We are most certainly not parting with any more euros at this time.

Hope your electrics have been ok for the 5 years.

Yes ! That's the first step definately. :)

No, they need to persuade the guy to see sense and complete the job. Anything involving the lawyers is far far worse.

kaz, my french friend took a tradesman tgrough the whole legal process, the tribunal found in her favour after two years hard slog, paperwork, legal advisors ...but she still had to get her work redone by another tradesman at her cost in the end. luckily she had legal protection on her own house insurance policy judicial I think it was called, have you had a look at yours as this may cover the expensive legal fees involved in pursuing a case. you may also have an unfinished house whilst the legal process goes through its course but it all depends if you can afford to wait that long. bonne chance!

Agree totally! It'll be elf 'n' safetee next! I 'm already getting my gas mask, warning cones and rubber gloves out!

From my point of view these blog fora are OK for bits of informal advice, pointing in the right direction etc at the sort of level of a friendly phone call, a chat in the pub etc, but no substitution for proper formal advice which to be effective usually means paying somebody. As a retired professional I think that I can say I noticed a growing trend towards people wanting free advice and then possibly even expecting to be able to sue somebody for giving it. We should all recognise the good job SFN does (and better then many similar exercises) but is a serious contractual difficulty arises than the reality is always a long, arduous and expensive process in resolving it. The cost of resolution can easily be in excess of the first cost of any project or the value of the claim. I am having trouble with a claim for damage that took place to my car last April due to a local authority's negligence. I have so far visited the town hall three times, written five letters, three emails, left telephone messages, been assured that my claim will be met verbally but without any actual action and now requested the Mediateur de France to take it up. He didn't answer my letter so I telephoned and after pushing got an appointment for 26 Februray- all for a claim of under 500 euros. The general level of rudeness and indifference I have met has been awful and i think in Britain would have been more efficiently dealt with. I have the time but if I was charging for a professional matter such a claim would not be worth making. If you have got the time it's fine! Personally I don't think professional people in work should give "free" advice.


With respect, this is a forum for various forumites of various backgrounds and abilities. It's not a legal forum and the beauty of any volunteered information forum, is that Kaz can now selectively sort the wheat from the chaff. Being a female should help.

The irony is your last post isn't lost on me though: "This is not ameteur (sic) hour"

Devil's in the detail.

Hi Kaz,

Andrew Henderson is quite right to warn about the effects of bad advice. The bilingual helpline has dealt with such problems in the past and I know that the key to the whole thing will be the initial Devis, the 'form' of his recent request for payment/invoice and the wording on his insurance cover policy. Without seeing these documents no-one can give you the correct advice. Until you get this advice you should definitely not pay him anything. If you get stuck please get in touch. I am sure I can help you sort this out.

Thanks to everyone for their replies/advice. I'm defo wiser now - just need lots of luck.

I have to agree the old system was terrible. It scares me when I see some of the installations that people are still using.

The golden rules as far as the French regs go is that you only use blue for neutral and G/Y for earth. Any other colour is fine for live. This means that you cannot use blue for a return from a light switch etc, which is why the other colours come in handy.

Current French regs stipulate 16A for a lighting circuit wired with 1.5mm2 with max 8 lights per circuit.

hi don't pay anything. does he still have access to keys to your property? if so try to get them back asap.

iI know others have mentioned about insurance, do you have a copy of his attestation? my understanding is the insurance is valid from the start of the work providing his insurance was in place but you would need to contact the iknsurance company, check he is insured and ask whether they will cover his workmanship to date.

The new system may be.....but the old "system" was diabolical, putting it politely.

As for the various colours...I'm just sticking to red/blue with perhaps a purple for two way switching. The book mentioned above has some pretty mixed reviews it has to be said.

I can't agree about the system overall being safer. The UK standard on fittings for example is far higher. Light circuits fused at 10 amp...why?

The French system is actually a lot safer than a ring main; so is actually preferable. As for 3 phase, there is nothing wrong with it being used PROVIDING that the phases are equally balanced.

One of the biggest problems with installations done by DIYers is the wrong use of colours for the fils and often not putting it in gaine; not following correct routes etc.

Excellent post..... for those that are interested here's the link Book as mentioned above

Will order a copy today ;o))

The 2 major differences between France and the UK is the frequent use of 3 phase and of course their refusal to use/acknowledge ring mains. I've never heard of 3 phase being used in domestic application within the UK.

I believe a 3 phase supply to the the cooker/hob is compulsory here???

Absolutely. It's not rocket science. Follow the regs and, if you need to (but if you have an existing supply, don't do it!) apply for the consuel approval application form.

A good book to read is "Electricity in your french house" by Thomas Malcolm ISBN 978-2-212-12712 which gives a pretty idiot proof explanation of how it's done.

Lots of installation is covered by EU standard regs, but the Consuel, like all the other Vogons, like to find a reason why they should have the last laugh, if indeed they're capable of laughing.

You need Consuel approval to allow EDF to install their fuses into the EDF supply coffre. Again, if you have a supply, don't do it!!!

Digressing from the original post. Sorry.

Copy of a posting on another site:
The French version of the IEE (CEE) wiring regulations which correspond to the UK regs is NFC15-100 for BT which can be obtained from Norme C15-100 En Ligne | Boutique.Afnor.org

the French equiv of BS… They are much the same as in the UK, but the supply is completely different and the materials, building methods &c &c so - in practice - things are done very differently. As a French qualified Electrician I would not be able to touch a UK installation - and - in actual fact - the reverse applies.

For details of NFC 15-100 you could look at Norme NF C 15-100 - Schneider Electric

There is a very good guide produced by PROMOTELEC (Promotelec : Norme installation électrique, certification électricité, label hpe Promotelec pour une meilleure sécurité), which I would recommend.

The standards are indeed harmonized, but the European standards have to take into account very different situations - and languages - so they are more like “the standard is - that there are appropriate regulations in place in each member country”.

I must tell you I have had to redo so much wiring done by Les Anglais - and now that the electrics are inspected for the house sellers when they put up a house for sale - etc - it is best (but not cheap) to conform to French regulations and practices all the way down the line.

Read more: http://www.electriciansforums.co.uk/non-uk-electrical-works/38872-french-wiring-regulations.html#ixzz2JHhMkW5d

I suggest you propose to him that you get someone else in at your expense to finish the job, and you pay original blokey the difference once it's finished. You explain that you need to have all the guarantees in place etc, so it has to be done that way. I expect he knows full well that he will get the best part of sweet FA if he goes that route.

He might then realise the best practical answer is that he finishes the job (or gets someone else to finish it for him). Then he has fulfilled his contract, you pay in full, you get the guarantees. It would probably be wise to get it inspected by ANO afterwards, as he won't be around to put anything right.