CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to France Magazines today CLICK HERE

Finding a builder in France

PUBLISHED: 18:24 15 October 2015 | UPDATED: 17:26 07 April 2016

Builders in France © Fotolia

Builders in France © Fotolia

goodluz - Fotolia

Finding a reputable builder can be difficult. British expat and project manager Charlie May explains how to find a builder in France and how to decide if they are the right person for you

When it comes to renovation in France, ‘artisan’ is a general title that describes a tradesperson here. Those using the blue artisan logo are demonstrating they are qualified to carry out their ‘métier’, or trade. The body that registers and regulates artisans is the Chambre de Métiers et de l’Artisanat (www.artisanat.fr).

Not everyone here in France who describes themselves as an artisan falls within this definition though, so it’s a good idea to check first if you want your renovation work to be carried out by a true artisan who is properly insured. A quick internet search for artisans will bring up any number of websites, and none appear to have a client-regulated rating system – the take-up is limited and the idea is in its infancy here.

Often a good place to start looking for an artisan in France is your local mairie, as the administration staff will have a good knowledge of the artisans in your area. As you would expect though, most of these artisans will be French.

A great number of expats I have met set out with the intention of employing local French artisans. However, many fall foul of the language barrier and are often surprised by the cost of building here. It is fair to say that a building project in France can cost a lot more than similar projects in the UK. It can be very tempting to look towards the unregistered and/or unqualified builders for a cheaper job, but in reality you may end up paying just as much or more; rectifying shoddy workmanship or poorly thought-out work can be expensive.

It is important to undertake your due diligence in much the same way as you would at home. This means that it is vital to set out your expectations for your renovation project very clearly before you start, and also to make sure that you fully understand the expectations of your chosen artisan.

Here are some simple pointers that will quickly identify whether you can work with this person or not:

• Ask for references or to meet other clients they have previously worked for.

• Ask to see some examples of their completed work.

• Have they undertaken similar projects to yours, in scale or cost (or both)?

• If your project requires multiple trades, does your artisan have the relevant project management experience?

• Is there a 10-year guarantee (this is common in France)?

• What VAT rate will the work be subject to?

When it comes to setting out quotes, estimates, or ‘devis’ as they are known in French, are a bit of a moveable feast at times. Ask for a fixed-price contract, but always leave room for a little play in the budget. An experienced builder will know the pitfalls and will be able to advise you on areas of work where there may be surprises.

Charlie May works for ECM³ in Cognac www.ecm3.fr

Further help with your renovation project: how to carry out a renovation in France, 21 French words to help with your DIY or renovation project in France and 5 properties to renovate in France

Article by Living France Living France

More from French Property

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Ruth Wood looks at the French property hotspots where British buyers search for their dream home

Read more
Aquitaine
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Seen a bargain French property that just needs a bit of work to turn it into a dream home? If your heart is set on a renovation project, do your sums first, advises architect Nick Adams

Read more
New-build property in France
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

A new apartment development is available for investment in the Alpine expat haven of Annecy in Haute-Savoie

Read more
French Alps
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Why your trusty high-street bank might not be the place when it comes to getting the best currency deal

Read more
Buying guides
Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Don’t be bamboozled by strange foreign exchange terms – this handy currency transfer jargon buster explains all!

Read more
Buying guides
Thursday, August 23, 2018

Is a ‘notary public’ in the UK the same as a ‘notaire’ in France?

Read more
Buying guides
Monday, July 23, 2018

Dealing with a loved one dying is difficult in any circumstances, let alone in a different country. To simplify the process as much as possible, here are the administrative procedures and legalities you need to know about when dealing with a death in France

Read more
Wednesday, September 19, 2018

With income tax soon to be deducted at source in France, how might this affect you?

Read more
Working in France
Friday, August 24, 2018

Find out how the new flat tax of 30% on income from financial investments works in France

Read more
Thursday, December 6, 2018

Live the high life with our pick of impressive properties for sale across France – some are budget-friendly too!

Read more
Buying guides
Subscribe for

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

France Forum

Questions about France? Visit our free France forum to get help and advice from thousands of other Francophiles and expats. Topics include: property, tax, law, travelling, pets, education, healthcare and much more.

Join the forum

Most Read

Join us on social media

France magazine
Living France magazine
French Property News magazine

Enter our competitions

Win books, DVDs, travel and even holidays in France in our great competitions! Take a look at our latest competitions…

Enter now