What should you look for to find a reliable plumber in France? Pete O’Grady discusses checking artisan credentials
Q. A tap recently gave up in my house in the UK and I called out my trusted plumber, who was recommended to me by a friend a few years ago, to fix it. This made me realise that when I move to France, as I am planning to do hopefully in the near future, I will need to find a new plumber that I can rely on. How do I go about doing this in France? Is there a Yellow Pages equivalent, and what can I look out for to know who I can trust to do a good job?
Pete O’Grady, co-founder and Director at Prestige Property Service – Europe replies:
There is indeed a Yellow Page in France called unsurprisingly Pages Jaunes. However, this should be your last resort because, as in the UK, you are selecting a trade person (or artisan) because of their proximity to you or their availability with little or no assurance of a person’s skills or qualifications.
The issue with plumbing and electrical work is that you need to find an artisan who is properly registered and able to offer 10-year insurance cover (assurance décennale) for their work. Personal recommendations are always really helpful and you may be happy to accept a neighbour’s advice about someone’s ability, charges, disposition etc and many of us do just this and never look elsewhere for our preferred tradespeople.
However, if you end up with a fire in your house from faulty electrics or a flood from faulty plumbing then no matter how helpful an artisan may have been in the past, there is no real guarantee that they are suitably covered for such accidents.
Most professional artisans will visit your property and provide an estimate (devis) for any proposed work needed and they will often bring copies of their registration and professional insurance which will help you to validate their credentials up front.
As a minimum, the registration details should have a valid 13-digit SIRET number which you can validate to some extent for yourself on several online registers. For example, visit infogreffe.fr and enter details of the artisan’s name or SIRET number and you should be able to find some basic details about the person. This site then allows you to request details of a person’s KBIS for less than €3. The KBIS will give you more details about what services a person is registered to carry out for clients. If you are satisfied with these credentials then you will still need to ask the artisan for a copy of their insurance to check that that they are insured appropriately for what they are registered for. Naturally, all of this documentation is in French, which can put off some expats from validating things properly. What often happens then is that people revert to the easy option of asking for recommendations on one of the many expat Facebook groups and this usually provides very quick responses – in English of course!
If more due diligence is required then there is another option of asking a local property manager who should speak enough French to be able to verify an artisan’s credentials, They may even have a local set of pre-validated artisans that they have used before and can recommend, and who have all the correct skills, paperwork and insurances.
In my opinion a property owner will find and select artisans in the UK or in France in the same manner regardless of country based their attitude to due diligence, risk, size of task, spending capacity etc.
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