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Informative and Essential Devis Guide

We were recently asked: Is there a governing body in France to report tradespeople who do not have the right assurance for their business when so many other trades are doing the right thing?

Unfortunately, there is no governing body that you can report tradespeople who blatantly conduct business without insurance.  There is an expectation that those who register a business must also be aware of the responsibilities of registering a business in France. The lack of understanding is much more prevalent among English-speaking trades operating in France. 

This is one reason we recently created the downloadable Review Checklist for homeowners in France and generated this informative and essential devis guide.

Receiving a professionally formatted devis for renovation or construction work on your French home is not just a formality; it’s a crucial step in ensuring the legality and quality of the work. Once signed, a devis becomes a legally binding contract between the homeowner and the tradesperson, with very few exceptions for reneging on that agreement.

It’s alarming to note that many tradespeople, whether due to genuine lack of knowledge or blissful ignorance, are not fully aware of what is required on a devis. Again, particularly prevalent among those who exclusively work with English-speaking homeowners. This lack of professional detail or issuance of a devis not only puts the tradesperson at risk of fines or imprisonment, but also leaves homeowners vulnerable to potential issues.

When a devis is issued, it should be accompanied by the appropriate assurance attestation. The checklist below has been sourced from the French government’s website and provided in English to benefit our English-speaking audience. It’s important to note that devis must be in French; English devis are not and will not be accepted in a court of law.

What information is required on the devis?

The devis must include the following information:

  • Date of writing
  • Company name and address / Legal status of the company
  • Client name
  • Place of execution of the operation
  • It is necessary to mention Insurance policy info: name of insurance company and policy number
  • The exact nature of the work to be carried out
  • Detailed breakdown, in quantity and price, of each service and product necessary for the planned operation: name, unit price and designation of what it applies to (labour hours, linear meter or square meter) and the planned quantity
  • Hourly labour rate including tax: TVA included: All taxes included
  • Methods for counting the estimated time
  • If any: travel expenses
  • Total amount to be paid excluding tax: Excl. TVA: Excluding taxes and tax included: TVA included: All taxes included with TVA rate. If TVA is not applicable devis should include: VAT not applicable, art. 293 B of the CGI
  • The validity period of the devis
  • Indication on the devis: free or paid
  • Cost of the devis when paid
  • 2 copies to be produce: one for the customer and one for the business owner

Is the devis paid or free?

The quote can be done free of charge or for a fee.

What happens if a preliminary quote is not given to the customer?

When the professional does not provide a devis to the client, he is exposed to an administrative fine of up to €3,000 for a natural person (individual entrepreneur) and €15,000 for a company.

Is the devis binding on the professional and the client?

The quote is a contract offer which binds the professional once the client has accepted the devis.

The customer is only bound by the quote from the moment he signs it. This signature is considered an expression of his will. He must add the words “ good for work ” or “ good for agreement ” above his signature on the estimate.  “bon pour travaux” ou “bon pour accord

If the client has not signed the estimate but has paid part of the remuneration to the professional, it is possible that this payment binds him.

It is necessary to determine whether the money paid is a deposit ‘acompte‘ or a partial payment of an amount due in advance, ‘arrhes‘.

  • If it is a deposit ‘acompte‘, then the devis binds the consumer and the professional. If one of the two wishes to withdraw from their commitment, they will have to pay damages.
  • If it is a deposit ‘arrhes‘, then the consumer can reconsider his decision. On the other hand, he risks losing this money. The professional can also decide to renounce his commitment, in this case, the doubled money paid must be returned to the consumer.

Devis must also show information relating to waste management

  • estimation of the total quantity of waste generated on the construction site;
  • management and removal arrangements;
  • the drop-off point(s) where you plan to drop them off;
  • the estimation of the associated costs linked to the treatment of this waste, including handling and transport. 

For more information about devis and sources, please see the links in Additional Reading at the bottom of this article

If you receive a devis that does not include any of the ‘legales’ mentioned above, it might be prudent to eliminate it from your review process.  

If you receive a professionally presented devis but no mention of their ten-year guarantee [ideally, this should accompany the devis, but it is not always the case], ask to see the attestation so that you can see that the work quoted for is appropriately covered.  You have every right to remind them of their legal obligation to provide you with their ten-year guarantee.

Remember, a devis becomes a legally binding contract once it has been signed with the words “bon pour travaux” or “bon pour accord.” Until then, feel free to explore multiple devis options. As the homeowner investing in your French home, expect professionalism and quality craftsmanship from the outset of your inquiry to the project’s completion. Work with tradespeople who demonstrate a serious commitment to your business.

This is why we only promote pre-checked tradespeople who are happy to share their registration and insurance details with us like they would present them to their customers. Potential customers can confidently contact our members, knowing we have already processed the review checklist first.

Additional reading:

Homeowners across France are searching for trustworthy tradespeople they can rely on. And guess what? They’re looking for them right here. Join our pre-checked directory and let your reputation speak for itself!

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