The chances are someone out there will be a previous customer. Even if you are opting for an English-speaking builder it's worth learning some of the technical language and terminology of the building trade so you know what your potential contractor is talking about when they talk you through the job. Sally Coppack only realised after her extension had been botched that because they lived in a seismic zone all doors an windows had to have extra structural supports.
The International Passive House Association
Her builder claimed he had included them but when officials checked the extension it was clear the extra support had not been included. That was just one of the reasons why the structure now has to be pulled down see below. You also need to check the Siret number, which is basically a business registration number that all tradespeople should have.
But it's not just checking they have a number, you need to check they have a number that applies to what they say they can do. You should be able to check the Siret number given to you by your builder with the local "Chambre de Metier et de l'artisanat".
There's no harm in calling them with the name of the person you are about to employ and asking them if they are registered and whether they have any information on them, good or bad. Again, even if they registered it doesn't mean the builder is bonafide and many of the tradespeople whose names came up when we talked to victims were registered with the CMA. But Artisan Central's Wilkins says things are improving. SPI courses, qualifications and experience having to be proven, appropriate insurance aligned with the registered activities and no work until Siret number given," she says.
The same goes for insurance. In other words it's no use them being covered for plumbing jobs when you are paying them to change the electrics in your new house. The "devis" or estimate you get from the builder or plumber should have details of their insurance on it. Wilkins says Artisan Central have had to reject many traders from their directory for insurance issues. Get help from someone who speaks French.
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As we covered in this article about victim's tales , one factor that contributes to people opting to choose unqualified expat builders is their lack of French language ability, especially when it comes to the technical terms. Helen Wood wishes she had employed an interpreter saying it would have saved money in the long run.
Employing a "hand-holding service", in other words someone who specializes in offering relocation help to new arrivals, to make a few phone calls might save you money in the long run. Keep your wits about you. Do you only stick with French builders? And I just said "don't go with an expat builder".
But as Artisan Central can account for there are many trustworthy expat tradespeople who can be relied upon and there are also some French traders ready to take advantage of vulnerable new arrivals. But it means those who do things professionally and correctly have to make an extra effort. Wilkins says those trustworthy traders could also do more to stand out from the cowboys. Even if it's creating a website, with a link to the local Chambre de Metiers who potential customers can contact to check out if they are bonafide.
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