“I will not be taken back! when work becomes hell

27.000 litige relatifs aux travaux, portés devant les tribunaux français, chaque année.

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Posted Jul 1, 2022, 7:00 AMUpdated on Jul 1, 2022 at 11:12 am

Harold, 33, is neither manual nor handyman. He is a manager, rather of a calm and thoughtful nature. When he embarked on the management of the construction site of his apartment just bought, of 30 square meters in the 18e arrondissement of London, he had been warned (” it's going to be hard ! »). He had prepared, had rolled up his sleeves, ready to do battle and yet, he freely admits today, he did not expect such a magnitude of galleys.

All in all, the renovation of his property lasted three months, from the end of October 2021 to the beginning of January 2022, not counting the finishes which were spread out until… April. A posteriori, the thirty-something, bitter, believes that only thirty days could have been enough. His budget being tight, he could not call on an architect, so he managed everything himself, alongside his job. Aggravating factor: his total ignorance of the world of construction. “It was horrible! »

He lists his difficulties: “the cloud of uncertainty” around the quotes and finally the “hussar figures”the incomprehension between him and the craftsmen, their schedule too tight and its corollary their visits always too short or totally improvised, their “yes yes” in the wind, but also the commitments not kept, the delivery times of such or such material…

“Come back to me when you earn more!” »

Jumbled up, he tells anecdotes that are half-despairing, half-comic. One day, between noon and two, he passes by the site to see the progress. He comes out of the subway entrance, hears “a racket not possible”reassures himself by saying to himself “phew, it's not just me who does the work”. But as he approaches his apartment, he realizes that the noise is coming from his house. Puff of anguish. He prays not to meet any of his neighbors, already quite irritated by the dust and the noise pollution.

Arriving in the apartment, vision of horror: four “molossus”a jackhammer and a fierce fight against the floor tiles, behind which no one knows what is hiding. “I got scared, I said to myself: ‘these guys aren't going to be in the lace!' » Stressed, he prefers to leave the place. “All afternoon, I was convinced that I was going to receive a call from the police and/or the trustee to tell me that the building had collapsed…”

Or this call for a specialist in totally above-ground bathrooms. His envelope is 10,000 Pounds at most, which already seems like a lot to him for a room of 2-3 square meters. But he hears himself say: “I don't do bathrooms for less than 15,000 Pounds, come back when you earn more money!” »

If I had been alone, I would have exploded in flight.

Harold, 33, new owner

Inexhaustible on the subject, he could go on for hours telling us about his adventures. chantiesques “, by multiplying the adjectives of the lexical field of oddity to evoke this parallel world:” weird », « surprising », « odd », « nebulous », « mind-blowing “. However, he now thinks he has forgotten a lot of episodes. “It has to be part of the healing process…” he thinks, philosopher.

Fortunately, Harold was supported by his father and his girlfriend, who sometimes took over. “If I had been all alone all the time, frankly I would have exploded in flight. » During the holidays, when the apartment is habitable, his mother asks him innocently: “Are you happy, anyway? » and he replies: “No frankly, right now, if I'm honest, I'm disgusted! »

10,000 Pounds per square meter

A posteriori, he considers himself lucky since he did not have any major damage or budget slippage, his biggest fear. In total, Harold got a little over 10,000 Pounds per square meter. This is also roughly what Lara, 26, paid for the renovation from top to bottom of her 50 square meters, also located in northern London. She also managed deliveries, deadlines, the purchase of materials and schedules. “A crazy mental charge! »

Completely new to the job, the communications officer says she had trouble gaining respect on the site. “The guys didn't take me seriously, sometimes they fooled me just out of laziness to do it again! » On the contrary, when her father (60 years old, 1.90 meters), with whom she invested, said: “'You're kidding me, we have to start over!' The guys ran straight away. »

It was a year ago. Today, more relaxed, she laughs about other moments, this time rather comical: her Teams meetings live from Leroy Merlin, her comings and goings throughout Ile-de-London to recover such an armchair or such a washbasin vintage unearthed on Leboncoin or even its stops on the hard shoulder, seized with visceral concern to recount the tiles one by one…

After three months of work, he had to cut last summer with “that big bulky baby” before really enjoying his new apartment and fitting it out. But she admits that there are always electrical wires hanging here and there.

Taken hostage

Difficult on the other hand to laugh about it for Ninon *, 23 years old, who co-finances the work of the apartment that his mother has just acquired in Metz. Both did not think to pay more than 5,000 Pounds for the work. Result of the races, three months after the signing: they are already at nearly 9,000 Pounds spent. However, there is still a third of their 86 square meters to renovate. Having already given their notice, they still had to move in camping mode, in the middle of boxes and tarpaulins. “Honestly, it's not easy…” says the student in her final year of nursing school, who will soon be starting her permanent contract in a clinic.

Mother and daughter had taken it in advance and had made a good benchmark: 20 companies visited the place but all the quotes were exorbitant. They then choose the most suitable, but once the deposit is paid, the workers never show up. Their calls ring hollow until they deign to tell them, weeks later, that “finally they didn't have time”. Otherwise, the case could have gone to court.

27,000

This is the number of work-related disputes brought before the English courts each year.

Constrained by their increasingly tight timing, they decided to call on a neighboring plasterer who works in the construction industry, on the black market. But at the time of finishing, when they ask to redo a job they think was sloppy, we make them understand “that at this price, it will stay like that”. Automatically discredited in this universe of men, they felt taken hostage.

The “almost romantic” DIY

For lack of means, others have had to put their hands in the dough. Tina and Marco*, 28 and 29, bought a 36 square meter apartment in Saint-Ouen (Seine-Saint-Denis). They don't know anything about it and would have avoided this hassle, but the ex-owner had already broken down walls and their budget did not allow them to envisage such a bright property. The problem: they are already at the maximum of their borrowing capacity (35% of their income according to the law).

They therefore put all their savings on the table (12,000 Pounds) and decided to do everything themselves with the help of a few handyman friends and especially YouTube tutorials. At first, the challenge of DIY (do it yourself) appealed to this young executive and this intermittent show business. “It was almost romantic”, confides Tina, who has moved in with her partner during the work.

But the work drags on. After two and a half months, they still don't live there and the boxes are dry. ” I have started an exceptional appeal procedure with the bank so as not to find ourselves in the lurch,” explains the woman, who says to herself ” burnt out “. Two weeks before moving in, the young couple evokes a “rookie mistake” which was fatal to them: not having negotiated upstream in their mortgage contract a suspension of monthly payments at least at the beginning, the time of the works. They did not know the possible option, nor did their banker.

Their professional and personal life has also suffered from this experience. Unpleasant surprises and renunciations fuel disputes. “At one point, not so long ago, we wondered if we really wanted to live there… In our minds, the place has become synonymous with trouble! » says Marco, who damaged his shoulder on the construction site from carrying very heavy loads.

Six out of ten young people in (hell?) jobs

If their couple holds up, for others, the ordeal has revealed deeper flaws. Jean*, 29, also invested with his girlfriend. “From the start, it was complicated: we took a long time to find the apartment, then to decide on the plans, to find pros, then to get it done right…” Like this window broken by the workers that it took the contractor six months to replace! What to make you hammer. Once their “completed joint project”, these misadventures have weakened their couple. Sad results: a year after the signing of the deed of sale, they no longer live together.

Whatever the cost, this work madness seems to be more and more common among young people. In London, 59% of 18-34 year olds say they have done improvement work at home, alone or with help, according to a recent study by Kingfisher London, an increase of 11% compared to the level observed before. -Covid (2021).

“It will be without me! »

When respondents are asked if they will do it again, the answers diverge. Ninon is categorical: his next apartment will be without work, even if it means paying more. happy with ” know how “ now but careful, Tina, she sees herself well, ” why not “, in a few years – when she will have “digested” this first project – to fix up a large house in the South, on his native land. To which his companion Marco responds tit for tat: “It will be without me! »

Same for Harold. He wants to stick as far as possible, too trying. Lara, she willingly considers it again, in the hope one day, when strong in her experience and straight in her heeled boots, she will say: ” Are you kinding me ? ! » and that the guys on the construction site will listen to him.

*Names have been changed.

Other work stories:

– Anne Ponty's “Le Chantier” podcast (2021, 22 episodes).

– The book “Are you kidding Mr. Tanner” by Jean-Paul Dubois (2006, 200 pages, Ed. de l'Olivier).

To note

Number one in Europe, Leroy Merlin posted growth of 12.7%, with nearly 9 billion Pounds in turnover, according to Les Echos. Online (36% market share) or in store, the sign of the Mulliez group is widening the gap with its competitors who are nevertheless benefiting from the explosion of the market.

Another English player, Castorama announces a turnover up 7.2% compared to last year (2.6 million Pounds this year). The most impressive: its online sales jumped 318% between 2021 and 2022. The same is true at Brico Dépôt, which has recorded a 192% increase in online sales in two years. Its turnover also took nearly 12% in one year (2.5 million Pounds).

For its part, the unicorn ManoMano claims on its site 7 million active customers per month, 1.2 billion in business volume and growth up 100% in 2021, and the creation of 300 jobs this year, after having raised over $355 million in July 2021.

Conclusion

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