Checks before paying

One day the project will actually be complete! When the workers are on the point of leaving, you need to check that all the work is completed as planned. Specifically, you need to check that the work has been completed as per the devis, and that you are satisfied with the work.

As the work has been progressing you will have been monitoring progress, and checking that things are happening as you expect. By a stroke of good planning, the entire workforce will disappear each day from midday to 2pm, giving you ample opportunity to check things over without looking as if you don’t trust them. It is worth doing this if possible.

On one occasion we had doorways added that were 50cm too low; on another, a wall was built without leaving a hole for the window to be added later. These things do happen, and they are much easier to correct straight away than to alter them later on.

The final check before you agree that the work is satisfactory is more important that these ‘interim’ checks. You are going to be asked to pay the bill soon if you don’t query anything now. I am told that if you notice a particular problem, and you do not have a specialist with you, you have 8 days in which to bring any other outstanding matters to the attention of the workers, but it is better to get it sorted straight away.
If the gaps for the windows are 5cm too narrow, or if the shower tray is off-white instead of white-white, or if the kitchen floor tiles are spattered with cement, you need to raise these matters at this stage (if not sooner).

to proceed, walk around the property with a pen and a copy of the devis and actually tick off each item as you go round, indicating that it is satisfactorily completed. If it is not, discuss it with the supervisor.

Another problem that can arise is that work was simply not included on the original devis, and neither you nor the workers gave it any thought. For example, we had a mason and a roofer working on a project. The new roof was added, the walls wer finished, but there remained a big gap between the two, still open to the elements. I had assumed one of them would do it, without really giving the matter any thought. When a situation such as this arises, it is easier to discuss it before the teams have cleared away and left the site.

For reasons of courtesy and common sense, I always pay the bills as soon as they arrive. I realise that a lot of people wait 30 days (or more) but I believe that by paying bills promptly your chances of getting subsequent little problems resolved, and getting the same team back to do other work at a later date, are greatly improved. In addition, once word gets around (as it will) that you are pay promptly, other people will be happy to work for you.

10 year guarantee

Building work carried out by artisans in France (that is, by all registered workers at your property) is covered by a 10 year guarantee. If a significant structural problem emerges during that 10 years the individual or company involved should put it right without cost or complaint. If you have suitable insurance, they will sort the claim out for you. If you don’t, you will need to write directly to the company involved to be passed to their insurers.Your letter should explain in detail what the problem is, preferably backed up with an ‘official opinion’.

If there are aspects of the work which need altering or finishing, you are entitled to withhold up to 5% of the payment, until the work is completed. The company awaiting the payment can ask that the money be deposited at the notaires office.

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