About to embark on a renovation project in France? Expert Matthew Chalk reveals three things to think about before your start work with the hammer!
1. Obtain planning permission
As in the UK, you’ll need to obtain planning permission. Once granted, it needs to be displayed on site and at the mairie for two months, so that affected parties have the opportunity to challenge it. There is a period of three months when local authorities can withdraw planning permission. Do not be tempted to start work before the deadline expires. If you start work and the local authority decided to withdraw authorisation, you have to stop work immediately and restore the property to its original state.
2. Involve the locals
Involve your neighbours from the start and you are more likely to keep them on side. If you are extending a property, note that a minimum distance should be observed with adjacent buildings. Local rules apply (the mairie will advise) but the minimum distance to the boundary should be 1.5 metres if not specified otherwise.
3. Research your tradesmen
In France there is a separate trade, and therefore a separate artisan, for each task on a building project. Before choosing them you should:
• Get at least three comprehensive quotes including completion deadlines for each stage of the work and the final project, with financial penalties for late completion of each stage. Be wary if you receive a quote which is inexplicably cheaper than the rest.
• Ask for references and follow them up and ask to see an artisan’s insurance (assurance décennale) certificate, which allows their work to be guaranteed for up to 10 years.
• Ask to see the tradesman’s SIRET number, which proves they are registered to work in France. You can also check with the Chambre de Métiers et de l’Artisanat to see if their company is listed.
• They may also be a member of a professional body. Architects, for example, should be a member of the Ordre des Architectes.
• Once you’re satisfied and have decided to go ahead, draw up and sign a legally binding contract such as contrat d’entreprise or contrat de construction, which gives you more legal protection than a devis descriptif.
For more information see: How to find a builder in FranceClick here for more advice on renovating in FranceMatthew Chalk is a British expat who runs MC Rénovation, specialising in Morbihan and Côtes-d’Armor in Brittany.