Make sure your renovation project doesn’t break the bank with these top tips to help you save money while renovating in France
Be realistic about the amount of work required and how long it’s going to take. Set a budget and stick to it! You’re likely to be faced with unexpected problems and costs along the way, so factor in a contingency fund to cover any unforeseen costs to keep your project on track.
Get a quote
It is advisable to obtain more than one quote (devis) for the work you want done and compare them varefully. Make sure you have a quote in writing and that in includes all the work you need doing, for example the materials to be used or the number of electrical sockets.
Ensure that your builder is properly registers in France with a SIRET number and has the necessary insurance in place to guarantee their work (décennale) and cover against any damage caused during the course of the renovation works (responsabilité civile). If they aren’t registered and don’t have insurance, you will have no recource under French law should something go wrong, and this could end up costing you more money to put things right.
Mix and match
Mixing more expensive items with cheaper buys is a clever and effective way of saving money. For example, basic kitchen units can be transformed with high-quality handles or a solid wood worktop.
Do it yourself
The easiest way to learn how to do something practical is to watch someone else do it properly first, and the online tutorials on Youtube can provide invaluable guidance and advice to help you tackle the job yourself. However, certain jobs require real skill and should be done by a professional – if you have a go and make a mess of it, it could cost you a lot of money to fix.
Look for bargains
Find out if anyone in your local area is giving anything away for free that you might need by visiting the French Freecycle website. For bargains on materials, Toolstation has stores across the UK and now sells in France via the French website toolstation.fr. The website is in both English and French and if you spend more than €50 they offer free delivery in France. You’ll also find a section specifically for bricolage (DIY) on eBay’s French website ebay.fr, while the ‘maison’ section on france-troc.com contains adverts fro everything from furniture to electrical items for sale at discounted prices.
Tax credits are available for renovation projects in France when work is carried out ro improve the energy efficiency of the property. Called crédits d’impôt pour la transition énergétique (CITE), a tax credit of 30% is available on equipment such as insulation, double-glazing and heat pumps and boilers using renewable energy. The credit only applies to work done on a main home (second homes are not eligible) and one that is at least two years old. The equipment must also be supplied and installed by a professional – work you carry out and materials you purchase yourself will not be eligible. Since 1 January 2015, only companies with the RGE label (Reconnu Garant de l’Environnement) are qualified to carry out the works amd satisfy the requirements for tax credits. To find RGE preofessionals in your area visit renovation-info-service.gouv.fr/trouvez-un-professionel. The maximum expenditure for one person is €8,000 and €16,000 for a couple, which is increased by €400 for each additional person in the household. This means that the maximum tax credit for a single person is €2,400 and €4,800 for a couple. In order to claim the tax credit you will nedd to send the invoice from the builder with your tax return.
An interest free loan (l’éco-prêt à taux zéro) for the cost of improvement works related to energy conservation and the installation of a septic tank is also available. The duration of the loan is normally 10 years but can be up to 15 years where at least three elements of work are undertaken. The amount of the loan is up to €20,000 for two elements of energy conservation and up to €30,000 for three or more. For a septic tank alone it is up to €10,000, but this sum must be included within the maximum of €30,000. Only properties constructed before 1990 are eligible, and you will be required to use a registered builder so DIY projects are not eligible. Contact your local renovation advisory service for more information at renovation-info-service.gouv.fr/trouver-un-conseiller.
Instead of the standard 20% VAT rate, a reduces rate of VAT can apply to renovation work carried out by professionals on a property that is more than two years old. Works to improve the energy efficiency of a property can benefit from a reduced VAT rate of 5.5%, while a rate of 10% may apply to improvement and maintenance works.
Top tips to renovate on a budget by Matthew Chalk of MC Renovation in Brittany
1. Make sure you economise in the right places and spend money where you need to. Don’t cut back on insulation, for example – it’ll make your home more comfortable and will save you money on your heating bill.
2. Shop around for your materials/ Check out websites such as leboncoin.fr for other people’s leftover materials – it’s not uncommon to pick up oak flooring at under €10 per square metre.
3. Don’t get caught up in the romance or renovating and let the costs snowball – stay in control of your budget.
4. Keep the project simple and if doing sork yourself, you can ask for advice at a local professional supplier such as Point P if you’re not sure about the materials you need to buy.
5. Do the job once and do it properly – having to go back over work later on will cost you more in the end.