An apartment of their own, a detached house with a small garden… home ownership is the dream of 79% of French people. While the new construction market is tending to develop, today 80 per cent of transactions take place in old buildings. This implies almost systematically for individuals to engage in the renovation of the property they have purchased. Renovation is of course the pleasure of rethinking your house, your apartment, but it also means confronting more or less scrupulous contractors.
Let’s be clear, the majority of construction companies are reliable. But all it takes is a small handful of black sheep for the human dramas to follow. The figures speak for themselves: in France, in 2017, 20% of construction sites were abandoned by the companies responsible for the work. Even more worrying perhaps, 43% of construction sites are found to have poor workmanship, a reality that has cause for concern for individuals wishing to have a property renovated: if we take the figures literally, when we embark on a renovation, we have, at least, a 1 in 5 chance of experiencing serious problems. The whole question therefore becomes, how to choose your construction company. Christophe and Kareen P thought they had taken every precaution. Testimony.
The Criabat 28 company singled out
In 2021, this executive couple decided to completely renovate their 90 m2 house in the Hauts de Seine. ” It was our dream since we bought this house “. For the whole family, this change is a life change. ” Frankly, these works did not worry us too much since we had entrusted the plans and the monitoring of the site to an architectural firm. The sequence of events proved to us that this was not enough. »
Amount of work: €200,000. In July 2021, the couple therefore launched the construction site under the supervision of an architectural firm. Initially they want to split the work and entrust it to two companies. One for the structural work: roofing, framework, modifications to the openings inside the house… the other for the finishes. On the advice of their architects, they selected for the structural work, the company, Criabat 28, based in Chartres, represented by Faycal F. “ Criabat 28 was due to complete its work in September, the 2e company was then to arrive for the finishes » explains Christophe P. Only here, in September, Criabat 28 is already very late… and the company in charge of the finishes is lacking. She announces to the couple that she will not be able to honor the site. But she undertakes to reimburse the deposit paid by the couple.
This twist of fate would have shaken more than one, but Christophe and Kareen think they are lucky…” Criabat 28 offered to take over the entire site. Of course, we hesitated: this company was late, but we said to ourselves that they were there, that we didn’t have to find another company… it was the simplest solution a priori. »
If the couple agrees to entrust the entire renovation to the company Criabat 28, with which they are not completely satisfied, it is because they believe they are protected by the contract they have signed with the company, which provides including late payment penalties. ” We said to ourselves that the company was exposed to heavy penalties and therefore that it would catch up. Besides, we were naïve enough to imagine that since they recovered the entire budget, they would be even more motivated. And then, the director of the company, Faycal F. was pleasant and sympathetic, he knew how to go about reassuring us. He posed as a saviour. He even told us that we would be home at Christmas. Sometimes you want to convince yourself so much that things will work out, that you dive. That’s what we did. »
In October 2021 the couple began to seriously worry. The construction site is getting further and further behind. Criabat 28, which had promised to mobilize 6 workers 5 days a week, does not keep its promises. ” At best there were 2 workers on site. The first weeks they came every day, and then gradually they came less and less. »
The couple is in a complex financial situation: “ Since we cannot live in our house, we rent an apartment. We are therefore paying the initial loan for our house, the works loan for the renovation and rent for a type 4. All of this was planned and budgeted for, but with the delay on the site, we understood that we were going to be quickly taken to the throat. »
The couple does not remain inactive: “ We constantly relaunched the company, asked the architects to manage… and there the lies began. Fayçal F, the representative of Criabat 28 invoked everything to justify his delay: covid, delays in the delivery of materials… except that when we asked for proof… he presented nothing. So he changed his strategy, he told our architects that we were bad payers! »
Faced with the architects, the company Criabat 28, actually invokes in fairly complex text messages to follow, late payments and affirms that this is the reason which led it to withdraw its workers from the site. ” It was completely crazy, we always paid all the invoices that were presented to us, 15 days after their presentation. »
Undertake was able to go through the documents in the file that Kareen and Christophe P have put together to prepare for legal action, in fact the company Criabat 28 has indeed been paid for all the invoices it has issued. Systematically within a period of less than 30 days provided for by law and the contract they have signed with the company.
And the problems are getting even worse. Christophe P discovers many defects during his site visits. “The waste water pipes were made despite common sense, an IPN installed by the company began to bend after a few weeks”
At the beginning, the Criabat 28 company recognizes its faults, takes over part of the disputed work. ” It may sound crazy, but somehow it reassured us. Except that the problem is that by dint of doing and undoing, the site progressed even less. “Over the months, the health of Christophe P. suffered heavily. ” Between work, the letters sent to the company, the stress of knowing how to get out of it, I ended up cracking up. I had a first big health alert which earned me hospitalization. A second, 3 weeks later. I must have missed several weeks of work. My wife went mad with worry, my children also started showing anxiety. One day my 10 year old son said to me: dad, we will never go back to our house again. I tried to reassure him, but once alone I cried. »
From December 2021, the situation is getting worse. Despite meetings, attempts at conciliation, letters, the passage of a bailiff who noted the delay in the work, the company Criabat 28 promises to move forward, but on the site nothing moves. Criabat 28 sends one or two workers to the site from time to time, no doubt to avoid reports of abandonment… Christophe and Kareen P decide to break the contract that binds them to Criabat 28. “ We understood that they would never complete the renovation of our house. But the worst thing is that to get them out, if you want to respect the law, it’s not that simple! “. Indeed, to break this type of contract, it is necessary to be able to justify the decision, to respect a simple legal process but which goes through a bailiff’s report, letters spaced out in time… and lawyer’s fees if you want to s surrounded by all the guarantees.
Unpleasant surprises…. in unpleasant surprises!
To respect the law, the couple waits another two months before finally being able to chase Criabat 28 from their home! And the final picture is black, very black: “Lhe concern is that between the installments paid at the start of the construction site, the orders for materials that never arrived with us, the late payment penalties, the company owes us more than €50,000. And she refuses to pay. This sum is enormous. The couple has no other solution than to take out a new loan to deal with it.
« It’s shameful, explains Christophe P, not only are we in debt beyond what we had planned, but in addition, Criabat 28 ordered with our money, 8 windows, French windows and skylights, and refuses to deliver them to us . Beyond the financial loss, this delays our work even more! It will take us 16 weeks to get new windows… For the couple it’s a disaster, but despite their repeated requests, Criabat 28 and Faycal F do not budge and refuse to give them back the windows they have nevertheless paid for!
The story could end there, but it doesn’t. Very angry, Christophe P begins to investigate the company Criabat 28. And there, he falls from the clouds. He discovers that the company in question was sentenced in 2020 in summary proceedings by the Versailles Court of Appeal for facts similar to those he accuses him of. ” I don’t understand how this is possible. This company has already been prosecuted for abandonment of construction and poor workmanship. She was sentenced in summary proceedings. And she continues as if nothing had happened. I find this deeply immoral. The reality is that an individual has no tangible means of verifying the health and viability of a construction company today in France. I’m sure there are other individuals who have had trouble with this company. I seek them and I will find them. »
Because he refuses to see Criabat 28 and his representative Faycal F getting away with it, Christophe P has asked his lawyer to launch legal proceedings. A fairly rare case, most individuals do not sue in cases like this. The procedures are long and costly and failing companies often have time to organize their insolvency by filing for bankruptcy. But Christophe P. is determined: “ We are lucky. Most people who find themselves faced with the situation we are experiencing cannot keep up financially. They end up with a house that is not finished, or that has such poor workmanship that they cannot live in it. They lost everything. But in our case, we can cope and we will. So we will go to court. We’ll never let go. »
When asked why he agreed to testify in our columns, Christophe P replies that he knows that it will be 2 to 3 years before knowing the court decision in his case. ” I know that justice will give me reason, I have all the evidence, all the elements, a good lawyer…. But two or three years of procedure is a long time. During this time, if I do nothing, Criabat 28 and its manager Faycal F will be able to continue signing new projects. So I speak. And I will also follow step by step the future of this company. With the internet today, we can trace this kind of box and I have friends strong enough for this kind of thing. Diving into the past of Faycal F, the representative of Criabat 28, I discovered that he was banned from management. That he multiplied the companies: L’Art de la maçonnerie, SGE Chartr’n… and many others. All have been liquidated. If the leaders of Criabat 28 voluntarily sink their company and set up another, I will find them… I am combative and very well surrounded. In short, for me, this story is far from over. Beyond the legal proceedings that I am launching, I will report Criabat 28 to the DGCCRF and relay our story as much as possible. Unfortunately, the judiciary does not worry enough about this type of company. The procedures are too long. I have all the time ahead of me to wait for the decision of the competent courts… and other weapons to use… It’s not a story of revenge, it’s a story of justice. »