Choosing your contractors……

Olivier of TPM Pool & Project Management gives advice on choosing contractors.

Another  holiday and rental season is fast approaching and now is the time to start thinking about all those little (or big) jobs that need doing for next season around your property.

A tendency to ‘leave it until later in the year’ often leads to disappointment when contractors and artisans are suddenly flooded with work from May/June onwards and are unable to respect your time requirements.

When choosing your contractor, ask yourself the following questions.

☛ Is he/she registered in France? You can check the status of any companies with a siret number with la chambre des metiers, la Capeb, Qualibat, Qualifelec or by logging on to * ,, or

☛Download a copy of the Extrait Kbis (small fee) from any of the above sites. This details the work that the company is qualified/allowed to carry out.

☛ Check out the company’s financial situation by looking them up on one of the  sites mentioned above. Auto entrepreneurs and  small businesses are not obliged to provide end of year results but these sites should still state whether the company is in ‘redressement fiscal’ or ‘liquidation’.

☛ Is he/she insured? Ask for a copy of the policy.

☛ Has he/she got a ‘decennale’ insurance which covers the work or part of the work for 10 years?

☛ Is he VAT registered? (Most of the renovation work for properties over 2 years old can benefit from 10% (unfortunately raised from 5.5% at the beginning of 2014 but still better than a poke in the eye with a pointed stick!) vat instead of 20%).

☛ Has he done this type of work before? Ask to see some finished work.

☛ Don’t be afraid to ask for more that one quote, but be prepared! Contractors are very surprised when they get a quote turned down! Bear in mind that many hours can go into the preparation of a detailed quote. If you’re happy with the contractor, you may be able to work with him to fit it to your budget.


If after all this you still feel that you cannot make a sound judgement or you feel that your French is not up to the job, there are bilingual project managers around who can help you choose. The same principal as choosing a contractor applies. Make sure they are registered in France, that they have a good grasp of the technical aspect of the job, and that they are truly bi-lingual. Ask about other projects they may have managed.

*Le greffe – check here to find out if a business is ‘correct’ – ie fully registered – and get an idea of their financial situation (ie how much profit they made during the year) ( LE greffe – transplant)

Reduced rate VAT for your renovation projects.


Did you know that most renovation and building works and materials for renovation are subject to VAT (TVA) at only 10% as opposed to 20% on all other building work?

Of course, this can make an enormous difference to the total cost of work.  The reduced rate applies to most renovation or improvement of an existing property (fitted kitchens and bathrooms, heating, air con, aerials, loft conversion, some garden works……..)

The reduced VAT rate does NOT apply to:

☛ new builds (properties over two years old)
☛ Extension leading to a newbuild (where more than one third of the ‘gros œuvres’ (foundations or supporting walls) are renovated)
☛ Building where the existing height changes. (ie if you were to add another level, tax would apply at 20%)
☛ ‘Luxury’ additions, such as a swimming pool

This reduced VAT only applies to registered tradesmen and builders. If you do the work yourself, you will of course pay 20% VAT on all materials. This means that if materials and supplies represent a large part of the total cost of your project, it can actually be cheaper to pay someone to do the work than to do it yourself!  It is always worth checking out both options.



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