4. Appointing a French Architect
4.3. Architect Contracts in France
You would be well advised to enter into a formal written contract with the architect and/or maître d’oeuvre.
There are standard forms of contrat maître d’oeuvre or contrat d’architecte that are available and you should ask your architect to provide you with the one they propose in order that you can study it.
Alternatively, you may be better advised to visit the web site of the professional body of architects, the Ordre des Architectes where you will find the standard form of contract for an architect engaged in a new build projects, amongst other types of contracts and architectural studies. Some of these contracts are in English.
These contracts are not regulated in any particular way so, if you do not like some aspect of the standard contract, you can discuss it with the architect.
An architect should hold professional indemnity insurance and, before you engage them, you should ask to see their current insurance certificate.
They also hold financial guarantees, which enables them to hold client funds payable to the builder.
An architect is obliged to guarantee their work for ten years against major defects, called assurance décennale.
Architects are also obliged by their professional code to offer clear and impartial advice at all times and ensure client is aware of difficulties and all other aspects of project.
Neither must they incur unnecessary expense and must respect the contract price.
An architect is liable in law if they do not give proper advice, if the works are badly executed, if they do not control the building site, or undertake proper control of the client account.
If you appoint an architect and the planning application is refused because (unknown to you at the outset) it breaches planning regulations, the architect has no legal entitlement to their fee.
So, in law at least, there is a high level of consumer protection! We would be interested to hear of your experiences.
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