How to carry out a renovation project in France

Jos Deuling,  Wednesday, 6 September 2017

old locks and hinges 

Local contractors and craftsmen

Most people who buy a refresher in France do not turn their hands around for a small renovation. It is best to outsource a complete renovation or restoration to a local contractor. Check beforehand that the contractor is officially registered. This offers some advantages. For example, an officially registered contractor, painter, electrician, plumber, carpenter or bricklayer will always give a guarantee on his work. He is legally obliged to do so. If you want to carry out a larger renovation or restoration, you also need a good architect and a surveyor. They can investigate if there are hidden defects and warn you about them. They can also advise you on how to proceed with a major renovation. They write a step-by-step plan and can help you apply for the right permits.

Make sure that the architect, contractor or craftsman is officially registered. You cannot rely on the French legal system if you employ an undocumented worker or if you use people who work illegal, who don’t pay taxes. Make sure that you make a written record of all work in advance, as detailed as possible. On this basis, request a quotation from some local contractors.

Always ask for the following:

The Siret number. The Chamber of Commerce issues this. The Siret number consists of 14 digits. The first nine positions contain the so-called Siren number which is the company's VAT number.

L'assurance décennale. Depending on the type of work, you can get up to 10 years guarantee on the work carried out. Please ask for this warranty.

Responsabilite Civile (liability). The company you hire can accidentally damage you. Most companies are insured for this. Ask for this insurance.

The renovation

It is important to keep the invoices of all work you have done. If you make a profit on any sale of the property, the French tax authorities will claim part of this profit via the Capital Gains Tax. If you can prove with your invoices that you have invested money in a renovation, then you can offset these expenses against the Capital Gains Tax. So keep all invoices. They are also required to prove that VAT has been paid.

If you have a renovation carried out by a contractor, you will have to take out a separate damage and accident insurance policy, the Dommage et Ouvrage Assurance. It is a complementary insurance in addition to the contractor's own Responsabilite Civile insurance. This Dommage et Ouvrage Assurance is very important. The insurance covers the damage if the contractor or one of his employees suffers an accident on your construction site. This insurance also covers the damage caused by a badly carried out renovation project.

Make sure that you receive a quotation of the work to be carried out in advance. As detailed as possible. The tender must include a schedule and an overview of the material to be used, including material costs and VAT. If you have little experience of renovating yourself, it might be wise to hire a third party. Companies that carry out an architectural research can, for example, help you draw up a step-by-step plan. They can also assess the contractor's tender.

If you agree with the contractor's quotation, you must sign it. If the work starts within three months, the work will be carried out at the price agreed in the quotation.

Don't forget that you need permission from the local authorities for some changes to the house.

Respect local traditions. Don't go and paint your house pink if the houses in the immediate vicinity are all white. Certainly not in a rural village.

Check regularly during the renovation. If it is a significant and long-term renovation, make an appointment with the contractor or architect in advance. They can then be present at the inspection and explain the progress.

Please also note that in the Compromise de Vente, the provisional sales contract, you include a clause that the purchase only goes ahead if you receive permission from the government to renovate. The government must issue a CPermis de Construire and a Certifiaat d'Urbanisme.

The big advantage of renovating the house is that you can completely adapt the home according to your ideas. If you stay on budget, you do not run any financial risks. And if you have made structural improvements, the house is worth more. A new roof, for example, is a sound investment.

A disadvantage of a renovation is the long waiting time for delivery. And you have to constantly check whether the work is carried out correctly during the renovation. This can be difficult if you live in the UK. But you can also outsource this to an independent party.

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