Man does not have to pay for renovations as no quote signed in France

Court rules that payment is not due for the completed works even though he had paid a deposit

Even if the work is already complete, the lack of a quote can prevent payment
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A man has been cleared of any wrongdoing after refusing to pay for completed renovations in his home because there was no signed estimate for the project.

He was cleared by the Cour de cassation, France’s highest judicial court.

The property owner had hired workers to install decorative masonry as part of an extension project at his home.

He paid two advance payments to the traders, which acted as a deposit and for them to carry out the work, but when the invoice was sent he did not pay, and stopped all contact with the tradespeople.

The traders took the man to court for non-payment.

Signed estimate is mandatory

The courts however sided with the homeowner because there was no proof of a signed quote for the project (devis signé) and only an invoice.

It said if there is no proof of agreement for the work, there is no justification for the homeowner to pay.

This is the case when works are partially or fully completed, or if the person ordering the work agrees ‘in principle’ to pay, and even – as in the case above – if payment is partially fulfilled.

The traders argued that they had formed a friendly and informal relationship with the homeowner, which is why they did not get a signed estimate. However the court rejected this argument and said a quote is mandatory at all times as legal protection.

What is needed in a quote?

A signed devis is the proof that is required for both parties, either to claim payment or demand works be carried out.

Quotes are required for most property renovations – and other activities – in France.

A quote from a tradesperson regarding renovation work must include:

  • Date the estimate was written

  • Name and address of the company

  • Customer name

  • Address where the activity will take place (usually the property)

  • Exact nature of the repairs to be made

  • Detailed breakdown, in quantity and price, of each service and products necessary for the planned operation, including description, unit price and description of what it applies to (labour hours, linear metre or square metre surface area, etc) and the planned quantity of work

  • Hourly labour rate including tax

  • Estimated time counting procedures

  • If there are any: travel expenses

  • Aggregate amount payable both before and after taxes (including VAT)

  • Duration of validity of the offer

  • Quote information: free or paid

  • Cost of the quote when it is paid

More information can be found on the service publicwebsite (available in English).

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