There are still some wonderful bargains around in France if you are looking for a house with outside space, which may need complete or partial renovation. For many years, the French have realised that it is the Brits who love renovation, and historically, they have not been too interested in improving their properties. This means that you are unlikely to have any trouble finding a character property with original features (perhaps a barn, as well as outside space), which needs updating or modernisation in some way. But are you up for it? You need to consider how you will go about renovating the property if you are not living there, and also of course, it’s important to do your sums: make sure you don’t overdo it, or your property may not be worth the money and effort you have put into it.
Interior work in France does not require any planning permission but adding a pool, terrace or changing external items like the shutters may require a “declaration de travaux”
It can be an absolute joy to renovate a property which has stood for years and has, as in our case, the original floors, fireplaces, cornicing etc. You will not find it difficult to find such a property in many parts of France, so to help you on your way, here are the France Property Guide’s top tips for renovations in France.
1. Make sure you receive at least two quotes from French artisans (workmen), preferably local ones. A good artisan will have pleasure in showing you his previous work, and you will be able to offset any workmanship carried out by a professional against Capital Gains Tax if it is your second home and you sell the property later on at a profit.
2. Interior work in France does not require any planning permission but adding a pool, terrace or changing external items like the shutters may require a “declaration de travaux” (works declaration). It’s best to make friends with your maire, and ask advice on this. You will likely be well received, as you will be bringing value to the community.
3. When it comes to sourcing materials, there are several DIY outlets now in France. Some items you will find expensive (such as wood, paint etc.), but it will still be cheaper than bringing it all over from the UK; and in the case of paint; there are now several internet companies in France that source their paint from the UK.
4. There are no architectural salvage yards in France, but there are plenty of “brocantes” or antique/second hand shops, which are popular. Also think about visiting your local “vide grenier” or attic sale. There are plenty of these going on each weekend in many French villages, and it is an enjoyable way of finding unusual items to grace your home.
5. Planning your renovation in advance is always a good idea. However long you think it is going to take, add more time! The pace of life is much slower in France and good artisans will be in demand. Our advice is to enjoy the renovation process as well as thinking about the end result.