Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Check out your French builder (Part 2)

Do your homework before hiring a builder in France - or just like in the UK you may repent at leisure.

Your builder has to be registered in France nomatter where he originates from and he should be able to give you details of his registration with the Chambre de Metiers. He should be able to show you his unique SIRET number, which should also be on any stationary.

If you want to check out a French builder’s credentials just go to www.manageo.fr and type in what details you have on him to see if he’s registered. To use the Manageo website's search engine you need to know the following:

Raison sociale = company name
No. Siren = company number
Dirigeant = boss’s name
No. de tel = telephone number

Here you can check that details match; get a full address and telephone number and get confirmation of the work that a builder is registered to undertake.

France registered British builder David Lindsay said “Problems with builders are magnified when you’re away from your property and you face language difficulties and a different set of building regulations.

“You must see their registration details and insist on a detailed written estimate (un devis) which gives the price and payment terms. Never pay anything in cash up front.”

Always ask to see examples of past work and when work is done always get a receipt. Never be tempted by a reduction for paying in cash – you will have no comeback in the event of problems. You could also be storing up problems for the future with tax, VAT and, if you sell what is your secondary residence, capital gains tax declarations.

The French system is designed to protect the client from unscrupulous cowboys masquerading as builders, so take advantage of the fact that France is a civilized country with regulations and make the system work for you.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

How do I choose French contractors and keep a tight rein on the build schedule?

Whether you're having work done on your own French property or developing property for a living, it pays to choose your contractors wisely and control the build schedule as well as your budget.

To find registered tradesmen who are approved, licensed and insured go to the local Chambre des Metiers (Craftsmens' Guild). When choosing always:

  • Check their Siret number - this shows they are qualified in the job you want them to do.
  • Get references - check the quality of their work first-hand by inspecting one of their previous jobs.
  • Hold money back - never pay the full amount up front for anybody's work until you're absolutely happy with the results.
  • Make sure you get a written estimate 'un devis' - to accept it , write "Bon pour Accord" and sign and date it - it is then binding on both parties.

To keep within budget you have to keep the build on schedule so someone must be on-site to oversee the work. Work done in the wrong order is a waste of money. Will you project manage the build yourself or would your time be better employed earning money to pay for the work? A project manager typically takes 10% but his presence makes sure that work is done in the right order and with reliable builders. Which is most valuable to you, your time or your money?

Monday, 7 May 2007

First time buyers are turning their sights on France

With the UK housing ladder already pulled up out of reach, many first-time buyers are choosing to make their first house purchase abroad.

The trend has been noticed by the overseas mortgage specialist Conti Financial Services, which has found an increasing proportion of their business coming from first-time buyers.

Their 'Quarterly Savings Survey' found that a quarter of the first-time buyers questioned would consider moving abroad, many stating that it would allow them to save for a deposit to buy in Britain. The survey also found that the younger the buyer the more likely they are to consider moving abroad with over a third of 25-34s were willing to relocate.

But just how many would ever wish to return to the UK when they have bought in France and lived there for a number of years? If they continue to invest their money in France their equity will enable them to buy a larger house in a prime location.