Guide to Property Renovations in France

Guide to Property Renovations in France 1

French property buyers are extraordinarily varied – while some may want a turnkey home, others prefer to take design and construction into their own hands. A shabby cottage or forgotten farmhouse isn’t a lost cause, it’s an opportunity to create your dream house. Finding a property with potential means embarking on a challenging and rewarding restoration project.

planning property renovations in france

The amount of renovating you’ll need to do will depend on your preferences, budget and construction experience. Some homes need to be completely rebuilt, while others are nearly finished and only require certain updating in your spare time. Decide what you’re able to realistically handle based on your time, skill and budget.

Important Documentation You’ll Need When Renovating French Property

Before finalising the purchase of your property, it’s important to find out pertinent information about the property you’re buying. Not every rundown building can be turned into something beautiful and habitable. Some properties have restrictions that are impossible to get around. Visit the mairie (town hall) to find out what types of renovations you’re allowed to make and to have your plans approved. You may need one or several of the following forms and permits:

Certificat d’Urbanisme: The certificat d’urbanisme outlines your renovation plans and helps determine if the changes will be approved.

Déclaration Préalable de Travaux: The déclaration préalable de travaux is a straightforward form with planning permission information. Depending on the alterations you want to make, this may be the only form you need. The form lists many of the minor changes you’re allowed to make without requiring a more in-depth application for further renovations. Repairs include things like adding an internal wall, installing a small swimming pool, putting up a garden fence and adding a terrace.

Permis de Construire: The permis de construire is the complete permit required to further develop your property. If you’re going to make updates to the property that will affect the taxable value, this permit is absolutely necessary. Many of the changes that affect the exterior of the home can also alter the value of the property. These modernisations include installing new doorways and making alterations to the roof. Additional changes that may require a permis de construire include adding extensions, constructing outbuildings and converting the use of a building.

Permis de Démolir: The permis de démolir is necessary if you’re going to be demolishing buildings. You’ll also need this form if you’re going to cut down or uproot trees.

Hiring a Project Manager and Labour

Unless you’ll be living in France throughout the development, you’ll need to hire a project manager. Overseeing the construction from another country is difficult and you’ll need someone you can trust to be present on site. When it comes to employing builders and craftsmen, many expats wonder if they should hire French or English workers. Hiring French workers may pose a language barrier, but it will put you in the good graces of your new community. While you may feel more comfortable hiring English-speaking workers, note that if you employ someone who doesn’t have the proper documentation for performing work in France, you could face hefty fines.

property renovations in france

Of course, you always have the option to handle the project yourself, particularly if you have construction experience. However, it may still be beneficial to hire an expert electrician. Electrical systems in France are usually wired with spurs that run from a distribution box. The larger the appliance, the more likely it is that it’ll need its own spur. A qualified electrician will ensure that your electrical system is in compliance with current French standards and requirements.

A Note About Profiting From Your Renovation

It’s common for property buyers to purchase a home that’s in need of renovation expecting to flip it and make a profit. If this is your goal, it’s suggested that you take a meticulous, business-like approach. Often, developers find that once their project is complete, the renovation costs and taxes have made it impossible to profit from the sale of the house. Additionally, the housing market may be in a completely different state from when you first started remodeling the property, which could make it difficult to sell within a short time period.

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