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Hegs's Achievements


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  1. > you should contact an accountant well versed in French and British employment, taxation and social security matters True, if you can find one and if they are prepared to talk to non-millionaires. I never did.
  2. There are two separate items here, the contract itself and the social security benefits accrued. Either will depend on what you are actually offered. From my personal experience, in terms of the written contract, the French contract will typically give you better job security (assuming it's a permanent - CDI - contract). Beyond that most of the terms and conditions in a French contract depend on what collectively bargined "convention" you will fall under which depends on the industry of the company and your role in it (cadre/non-cadre). You might also get a nice anti-competition clause that pays you after you leave for NOT working for a competitor which can be quite lucrative. The only situation I can see that a UK contract would be legal if you were to work in France would be if you were to join a UK company then immediately to do a temporary transfer to a French office of the company. In that case I believe you can still pay UK social security contributions for a limited period. In terms of benefits, pound for pound the French social system gives you much better benefits but your employer pays much more for them in terms of direct salary taxes (about 40% vs 12% for the UK).
  3. Yes, I don't mean to disparage the entire profession. Some friends who successfully persued a claim against the same architect later had excellent service from another RICS registered surveyor - who didn't even charge for his time. However, RICS seems to be toothless and the organization needs to get its act together from my experience. From the link you sent, the complaints procedure is unable to award compensation, which makes it fairly pointless - you have to go through the courts or CAB (hmmm, those exist in France don't they). I wonder if the jurisdiction over practitioners in France has ever been tested either. Has anyone working in France been struck off, or even disciplined? To me, a personal recommendation of a good local builder, surveyor, or architect is worth much more than a theoretical chance to complain in the future!
  4. >Getting a builder or architect is always an option but can you be sure that they are not looking at you as a cash-cow? We have experienced a few problems with an English RICS surveyor, as have other people according to rumour. Strangely enough, this RICS surveyor also writes for French websites and magazines about the benefits of surveys! He was all too happy to direct you towards - and actually worked directly for - an English architect who is becoming fairly notorious. The architects in question have had several complaints against them upheld by the Ordre des Architectes, and ours is pending. The surveyor, who worked for the architect surveying and drawing up plans rather than directly doing a survey for us, missed some really obvious faults that were cheap to fix, and instead  in our opinion used fear, uncertainty and doubt to propose work that was, according to explicit RICS advice, unsuitable for a period property. Luckily our local builders were on the ball and provided us with helpful advice that, in my opinion, stopped us from spending thousands unnecessarily and potentially harming the building in the process. I have tried three times over the last year to get RICS to confirm the surveyor was actually qualified in the advice he was giving, as he must be. They don't reply, then when I chase up, they say they are having computer issues. So how do I know the surveyor is actually qualified to survey period French properties, and not just English buildings like the majority of UK surveyors? It is all so well to say "you should complain to RICS", but if RICS don't listen, what's the point!
  5. Generally the drive up is pretty good in good weather. Looking over the side of some of the roads isn't a little hairy, especially Montsegur and Queribus. If you're worried about the drive, approach Montsegur from the Montferrand side and Queribus/Peyrepeteuse from the Bugarach side. For the walk, from hardest to easiest, to the entrance gate. Montsegur: 45 minute walk from car park, very steep at times, off season can be foggy/snowy. Shops and cafe in Montsegur village below. Queribus: 20 minutes from TOP car park (take the road till you can't go any further), moderate slope, steep inside the castle, it's exposed so difficult when wet or windy. Shop at bottom. Puilarens: 10-15 mins from car park, steep but cool, sheltered climb.  Shop at bottom. Generally not very busy. Peyrepeteuse: 10-15 mins rolling up and down walk through woods and round a ridge to first entrance. Can be difficult when wet but not too hard otherwise. Walk up to second castle inside the first is pretty steep and slippery when wet. Lower parts pretty sheltered. All have their own character, but I'd recommend Peyrepeteuse as a good one to try first as it is architecturally the most interesting.
  6. A couple of links to standard forms for cancelling things: http://www.resilier.com/originale/accueil http://www.voslitiges.com/assurance/m27.html
  7. détatouage is the term.Try http://123tatouage.com/index.php?cat_id=45
  8. Regarding the venue, for actually seeing and hearing a group it is the best large venue I have ever been too (handles 9000). It's like 120 degrees of an ampitheatre, there really are no bad seats as far as I could tell. The sound quality was excellent. The bars were a little disappointing, if you imagine the beer tent at a large UK festival you'll get the idea. Have fun!
  9. Hi, we went to the Zenith to see Depeche Mode a few months back. We stayed overnight at the Holiday Inn in Place Wilson which can be very good value for money and there is a great brasserie below. We took the metro down to Patte d'Oie from Place Capitol which was only a few minutes, then maybe a 10 minute walk. It was an odd evening all round. For a start, everyone seems to have driven to the Zenith, the place is almost totally soundproof so we weren't sure we got right up close that the concert was still on. It must have started really early as we got there at 8pm and the support were on their last song! Even stranger, there was no rush to the bar at the changeover, and worst of all was the inappropriate dancing which still sends shivers down my spine... I think the concert ended about 10:30 pm and the tube was still running and there were lots of buses about so I don't think you'll have a problem.
  10. Have a look at www.architectes.org or www.riba.org. There is a legal requirement for an architect working in France to be insured and registered with the Ordre des Architectes and they have a complaints tribunal which prevents (in theory) legal procedings, if he is not registered in France the ordre should be able to point you to the correct government consumer complaints/fraud division to raise the issue with. However as the architect seems to be working from the UK I would contact RIBA too, either after your ruling from the ordre or before. Where did you find this guy? A whole bunch of us have had problems with a small number of individuals so it's good to know who to avoid.
  11. It's worth pointing out you can have more than one website address with the same content (e.g. .com, .fr, .co.uk) for a nominal fee. Also, the extension you want should probably be decided by what audience you are targetting - for a pure UK audience a .uk address will get you into the UK-only indexes of search engines whereas a .fr will definitely exclude you. An English language or global target audience is best addressed by a .com domain where you have the chance of getting into country indexes as appropriate.
  12. We used Maitre Duchan in Chalabre for our house purchase and further advice over the last 4 years. He's very good and as far as I can tell trustworthy and his English is pretty perfect. I wouldn't bother with a UK solicitor. As to a surveyor being worth it, I think there are very few cases where an English-style survey is worth it. As I understand it you have to pay for the full structural survey to get any legal comeback, the report on an old house is going to a horror story anyway, and I have yet to hear of a valid claim against a RICS surveyor for a French house. Would love to know if anyone has! I have doubts English registered guys really understand how French houses are built, but I have heard good reports about John Marshall +33 (0) 468 20 26 48. or [email protected] Generally the French tend to get a builder or a French architect to have a look over the place instead and give a verbal report. I have heard good things about Sophie Baby (?) in Mirepoix. I also have had dealings with some rogue English surveyor/architect pair based in the Aude valley who are truely hopeless and a complete rip-off . They trade under different web addresses and names, so PM me if you are thinking of using someone based there.
  13. Hi Sunday Driver, You are incorrect. Newly qualified drivers (I am one) still have to obey lower speed limits, that is 110 on motorways, 100 on dual carriageways and 80 on route nationals. See http://www.code-route.com/vitesse.htm.
  14. Check out www.architectes.org - there is a list of obligations on a registered architect and are a number of (free) complaint procedures you can persue which must happen before legal action (officially) and they can cancel invoices etc. You can either threaten the architect with them if you think he is trying it on, or just complain and wait for the tribunal, it's up to you. The fact there was no formal contract and they changed the scope of the project without written approval will not sit well with them. Your story sounds familiar, especially the subcontracting aspect, where we are (Aude 11) there is an English rogue who is notorious for this kind of thing, PM me if it sounds like the same chap.
  15. I have never knowingly employed anyone working on the black and the idea horrifies me. But, if (as has happened) a "registered" business crosses me, I have no hesitation in shopping the company, the owner, their subcontractors and in fact, anyone who has knowing participated from it to any agency who might be able to help. And I will carry on until my own loss has been recovered, and know no others customers are going to suffer, even if it involves the villains and their family ever being able to scrape together a living (even from dodgy "work from home schemes", in a different town). And even if getting them shut down fails, I will ensure their name goes down in infamy forever. So be careful before you do anything wrong, some of us will track you down forever and never give up.
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