Home improvement, DIY and construction projects are getting more expensive and taking longer in France due to a lack of supplies and rising prices, with industry professionals advising extra caution.
Half of home projects are experiencing delays of 10-30% due to difficulties in sourcing raw materials, the architecture association le conseil de l’ordre des architectes has warned.
Examples include windows not being delivered on time (or at all), a lack of tiles that delays the repair of a roof, or quotes that are much higher than expected.
An April 2022 study by living standards observatory Le Centre de recherche pour l’étude et l’observation des conditions de vie (Crédoc), found that materials that require considerable energy to produce, such as steel and aluminium have risen by 80% and 60% respectively.
Yet, it said all materials have been affected, including wood, which is experiencing “tension” worldwide.
Two-thirds (66%) of architects questioned said that quotes for work requested in the past six months are costing 10-30% more than expected, and 60% said that their clients are changing their plans in order to save costs.
Small building companies association la Confédération de l’artisanat et des petites entreprises du bâtiment (Capeb), has said that while it does not predict a total lack of supplies, delays will be likely, and prices will be higher.
Benoît Charpentier, founder of Renovation Man, a company that helps households find good quality builders, said that quotes for work have increased overall by 5-10% since the start of 2022.
Capeb president Jean-Christophe Repon told Le Monde: "The disorganisation caused by the pandemic, added to the rise in energy costs as a result of the war in Ukraine, has created increasing pressure on the availability of the materials needed to carry out construction projects, and these have slowed down.”
The situation may continue to worsen as the war in Ukraine continues, especially for steel, as Ukraine and Russia are the leading producers in Europe.
Fabio Rinaldi, directorial president of DIY company BigMat France, told Le Monde that the situation is also tense for roof tiles, “as French production is far too low to meet demand”.
Should people delay DIY projects to wait out the issues?
“There’s no point in waiting,” said Nicolas Boffi, greater Paris director of development for engineering and project management firm Arcadis. “Prices are rising, and it’s difficult to make predictions. Nothing suggests that the situation is set to calm down in the coming few months.”
Tips for households starting construction projects in France
Professionals have issued some tips for households considering starting construction projects in the coming weeks and months.
- Check the validity length of your quote. If it only lasts for two to three months, try to sign it quickly if possible, before the tradesperson is forced to raise prices
- Check that the contract is fixed price, and that once work begins, the cost can no longer change
- Check how long the work is set to take and make sure it is written on the contract or quote. If the work is significantly delayed, the client has the right to take the work to another company if they wish.
- Avoid starting with too-small a budget, or too-short a timeframe. Try to overestimate how much and how long your project will take, to avoid disappointment, spiralling costs or delays.
Mr Charpentier, of Renovation Man, said: "For major works, we recommend that you get assistance from an architect or a project manager, who will carry out a proper call for tenders and sign a real works contract, rather than [relying on a] few simple quotes.”
Yet, price rises are such that some tradespeople are now including clauses in contracts that state they can increase the quoted amount in case material costs soar.
The economy ministry has stated that all commercial projects must be signed with contracts that allow prices to change if necessary.
If a similar law is passed for household projects, homeowners are advised to carefully check how much the quoted price may rise.
Will all companies pass on the costs to clients?
Some construction companies have chosen not to, and are drawing on their cash reserves to make up the shortfall. However, as a result, many are also at a higher risk of bankruptcy, which is an added threat to household projects.
Households are warned to request the company’s attestation d’assurance décennale (ten-year insurance certificate) before starting work. This means that if construction defects appear, but the company has disappeared, homeowners can make a claim.