However, a survey by CLCV consumer group found that where there were problems, 43% were due to bad workmanship, 20% involved delays in completion of tasks, 8% unfinished ‘snagging’ work and 7% where the builder went out of business (half the number of a similar poll in 2016).
The CLCV also found any problems that were occurring were more complex and it said protection for customers was very variable, being better for the building of a new property but notably less so for smaller scale works.
It blamed the absence of a formal contract, saying most people would sign only the artisan’s devis (estimate), which stated the cost of the work but made no mention of a date for starting or finishing. Such ‘contracts’ also lacked penalty clauses.
It said customers did not know enough about their rights or the guarantees offered by builders and, in many cases, had not done enough background checks.
The CLCV said word of mouth was the best but background checks were vital on internet sites infogreffe.fr and societe.com or the tribunal de commerce (which could cost €100 or so). Clients should always check the artisan’s attestation d’assurance.
It also advised clients to look at taking out dommage-ouvrage insurance which, although it can cost 3% of the work being done, is a quicker way to get work completed than by claiming against the builder.
Once complete, work should be checked carefully as visible faults must be pointed out before the work is accepted.
CLCV called for laws to make contracts obligatory for works over €150; that they should include start/finish dates plus 5% penalties for delays and, that if a builder goes out of business, their insurance pays for the work to be finished.