Sunday 30 March 2014

Think Twice about DIY

Something I thought might be worth passing on to anyone newly arrived in France – think twice about DIY!

Often it is no more expensive to have the job done by a professional. How does this work? Well in France there is a hefty tax on goods that you buy. In the UK it’s called VAT – here it is known as TVA – and it adds almost 20% cost to anything you purchase. The French government however, wishes to assist small businesses and so materials bought by a builder, roofer, plumber, electrician etc are taxed at a much lower rate. So, if you have a big job to do, it can be a good idea to employ a professional and save on the cost of materials. Of course you have to pay him for his labours but often the saving on the TVA is sufficient to meet his charges.

Not only that but the professionals also negotiate a discount from their regular suppliers so they can make a double saving – paying little tax on goods that they can obtain much cheaper than you. Some of the discounts they negotiate can be huge and if they want the work they can often be persuaded to pass at least some of that discount on to you. Last year the guy who laid my floor tiles obtained a 30% reduction in their retail price. The saving to me (taking account of the full retail price and the 20% tax I would have been obliged to pay) more than covered the cost of his labour.

In French law, tradespeople are obliged to quote a price for the job and once the price is agreed they may not add extra charges. In producing the quote, they describe the price of materials and their labour charges so it can be quite easy to estimate whether there is any saving or additional cost – and then, if necessary, negotiate a lower price by asking the guy to pass on some of the discount he has probably negotiated with the supplier.


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