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Building dispute


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I wonder if anyone could give me some clarification as to where I stand regarding a building dispute.

I have signed a contract with a swimming pool company to supply and fit a Mondial swimming pool. My understanding is that this is a particular brand and differs in the construction and the way the concrete is cast. I am no expert, but the invoice is on Mondial headed paper with the swimming pool company stamped in the corner as ‘agent’.

I have had it suggested to me, from staff at the company, who have subsequently left, that the swimming pool company is in financial difficulties. On top of this the company says that they no longer deal in Mondial pools as the manufacturer has ceased to supply to the area (Dordogne). I do not believe this to be the case.

As a result of these issues and having paid €10k up front, the company have cast a pool on site although it is not a Mondial product. We allowed this as we were eager to obtain some assets on site for our initial outlay in case the company did go into liquidation. However no official communication was forthcoming from the company to me that the product was not a Mondial. They did liaise with my project manager in France (I still live in the UK), however again no formal paperwork has been forthcoming detailing the replacement product. We have arranged a meeting on site in a couple of weeks to access the standard of the pool compared to the one set out in the original contract. If it is comparable then we will happily pay the amount of the works up to date. We are clearly cautious of paying anything in advance for obvious reasons.

We are now getting aggressive and threatening calls ahead of this meeting from the pool company asking for further payment in line with the original contract, which in my view is now void. As I said, I hope the replacement product is acceptable and if so will pay for works up to date. I do now feel however that the relationship has broken down and wish to employ anther contractor to complete the works from this stage to completion.

So after that long explanation (apologies), where do you think I stand?

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I think it's best to ignore the aggressive calls, which are probably blustering, and go ahead with the meeting. Don't pay any more until you've seen the work.

Not being an expert in french law, I don't know if the fact that the pool isn't a Mondial would invalidate the contract, I think it would in English law.

Reading between the lines it does sound as if the company is in financial difficulties.

btw how are things in Leigh on Sea? We still have our bungalow in Westcliff.

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Thanks for that. It is so disappointing that issues like this ruin something that should be exciting and enjoyable. Never mind, I assume they happen regularly in the building trade.

Westcliff is all well, although I wish I was in France on a daily basis.

Thanks again.
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1.  Ignore the threatening phone calls.  Two weeks delay in making a payment isn't going to make any difference to a company that is financially healthy.  And if the company isn't healthy, better that the money stays in your pocket than they go bust on you holding your cash, and leaving you with a half-completed project.

2.  Mondial's web-site still lists an agency in the Dordogne:

Mondial Piscine






You or your project manager might like to contact this agency as a matter of urgency ~ and certainly before your site meeting ~ to try to ascertain the truth about their operations in your area and, if possible, their relationship with your contractor.  I don't see how you can do this except face~to~face, btw.

3.  If you decide after the site meeting that you are happy with the pool as it now is ~ I trust you know what criteria you will use to ascertain this? ~ then I advise you to think carefully about changing contractors at this stage.  Changing horses in mid-stream opens up all kinds of horrible mixed liability issues in the event of things going wrong.  'Frying pan to fire', 'Better the Devil you know' etc.

If the company is going bust, they will most likely initially be put into redressement judiciaire.  This is similar to being put into admnistration in the UK, i.e. the company is allowed to continue to trade while being protected from its creditors.  This period can last for 6 to 18 months, which will hopefully be long enuf to get your pool finished, particularly if you owe them some money.  But no promises ...

4.  As to whether you have grounds to break the contract with your current installer, that will depend on what he undertook to supply in the first place.  Without the exact wording in front of them, I don't think anyone can advise you.  Can you post on it here?

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Yes ignore the threats or ask them to put them in writing!

Best to actually see what you have, if the signed devis said "Mondial" then that is the basis on which you went ahead as you chose that type, with no contract of variance re signed they would be on thin ice I believe.

Do you have juristique (sp) on your home insurance? Not that it does much good because at the first whiff of trouble they will wind up the company, loose it's assets assuming they have any at the moment and your pool will remain unfinished until the litigation is over and that can take many years in France.

That said the Mondial system may say patented but that is only someone registering an idea and it doesn't have to be a good idea!  They just have a permanent plastic shuttering where the floor and walls are poured in one making a strong seamless pool, not that unique by any means so the patent could be for any part of the idea and not really important to the overall pool but the marketing department will make it sound as if it is.

They may have built a conventional pool which itself may not be bad providing a water proof sealing strip has been used between the floor and wall joint which is as rare as rocking horse droppings in French pool construction. I have been communicating with a lady who didn't have the waterproof strip added and now the structural steel work is rusting through.

They may have built an insulated formwork pool so you'll get more benefit from that  in terms of comfort  and reduced heating requirements. Best to find out what you have.

If they have varied the terms of your contract then no reason you can't do the same by mutual agreement. They will be fitting the standard power hungry pool pump and filtration system? You maybe able to intervene as 21st century energy efficient system can run a pool on 90%  less electricity than the old setups and with far better filtration which means less work for you.

Do come back and tell us what has happened

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Smudger, the one thing that worries me about all this is that you allowed the installers of the pool to continue even when you were uncertain as to whether they were installing the required brand. It seems to me that if this was communicated to the builders then you do have a new contract with them because you accepted their work. In which case, you have to pay up, which I know you are willing to do.

Is there any reason to suppose that your agent on site was not surveying the works, thus avoiding the problems highlighted by Teapot? Would the installers not have continued to work to the spec they had been given, ie the Mondial one?

Guess you will find out when you get there.

By the way, I think it is common for ex-employees to slag off their old company and saying it is going broke is a way of damaging it. Heard it several times here over the years. But, if the company is screaming for the cash, then maybe they do have money problems too, which may be why Mondiale is no longer supplying them.
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You can look up a company on this website


It will tell you the last time they reported accounts and whether they were in profit or not.

If you click on the ANNONCES BODACC tab you will be able look on the official website which covers any legal or administrative changes, e.g. if they are in liquidation or other measures
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