Reader question: We agreed to renovation work at our property in October 2021 but have not yet received a start date. Is it possible to cancel the signed contract (devis) after a certain period and find another artisan/supplier? I accept that this could further delay any work but would like to know.
Normally a contract with a tradesperson should stipulate the date when the work will begin or the period of time over which the work will be carried out.
First a tradesperson will offer an estimate or a quote called a devis. This outlines the cost of the project and should include details of how long it will take and when the work will begin.
If there is no date written into the quote, then an unsigned devis automatically loses its validity after a ‘reasonable timeframe’, which, according to the consumer advice centre the Institut national de la consommation, is around three months.
If a client signs a devis that does not include an end date for the work or a time period when it should be carried out, which does happen, then the customer can legally terminate the contract if the tradesperson does not begin work within a reasonable timeframe.
Article L216-1 of France’s Code de la consommation states:
“In the absence of any indication or agreement as to the date of [when the work will be carried out or the goods delivered] the tradesperson should provide the service without undue delay and no later than thirty days after the signing of the contract.”
In our reader’s case, it has been well over 30 days, so if the devis that they signed does not have details setting out when the work should be carried out, then they are within their legal rights to cancel the contract.
You should contact the tradesperson to inform them of this and if necessary contact a lawyer to make sure of your legal rights.
If the devis does have an end date or an expected timeframe included in it and these dates have not been met, then the tradesperson could be subject to financial penalties for breaching the contract.
The customer can also legally cancel the contract and demand reimbursement for any payments already made.