Have you been dreaming of restoring an old French house? Or have you found the perfect property that just needs “a bit of work”? Restoring an old house in France, or even doing minor renovations, is almost always more work than you anticipate.
The French expression “your eyes are bigger than your stomach” can apply to property renovation just as much as to a 5 hour Sunday lunch! You’ve probably heard stories of house renovation that went sour. Many many times the mistakes or delays could have been avoided. Here are a few tales relating how real people could have sidestepped the pitfalls.
Purchasing and planning permission
Word came to us a while ago of Bob and Ann* who had bought a remise (in this case a small stone built hut of around 20m²) on a plot of land. Their intention was to extend the remise into a small holiday home. It was on the edge of the village, and they were informed by the seller that all water, electricity and communications services were within easy reach of the intended extension. It was a private sale with no agency fees. The sale went through smoothly and the couple were delighted. They then went to the Mairie to start the paperwork for the extension and duly submitted it to the right people. It was refused. They discovered (too late) that the land they had bought was classed as ‘leisure or agricultural” and there was no way any permission would be given to build anything on it. A quick call to Renestance and a meeting with the right people, and the heartache and time wasting would have been avoided.
Jill and Joe*, a couple we know well, had a coup de coeur the minute they walked into their dream house. Never mind that the roof was 200 years old, this is where they wanted to put down roots in France. When the autumn rains came, they rapidly realized the roof needed to be replaced and started getting quotes. Let’s just say they were more than surprised at how expensive roofing is in France! They needed to take a lot of time out of their busy schedules to track down information, contacts and the required documentation to apply for a special grant. They then had a choice between an eco-friendly or heritage roof at a much reduced price. Their house eventually got its new roof over a year later. The renovation paperwork would have been in place so much faster with some knowledgeable and fluent French-speakers on their side.
Swimming pools that splash the cash
Finally a cautionary tale about a British couple. After buying their lovely villa, Nigel and Laura* started getting prices for a swimming pool. One chap took them to see some beautiful pools he had apparently built, and gave them a price which they accepted. He then offered a considerable discount if part of the cost was paid in cash. Alarm bells should have gone off there and then! Nigel and Laura have had nothing but trouble with the pool since it was built. The cash payment nullified the guarantee, so the builder could just walk away. The work to correct the pool problems is now likely to cost them a significant amount more. We would obviously never recommend putting yourself in a scenario like this, so if it ever comes up in your life in France, talk to us and we’ll help you keep on swimming!
Helping to make a new French dream life come true is what we do on behalf of our clients. I can safely say we are pretty darned good at it too! Our contacts, partnerships, knowledge and experience mean that you only receive the best advice and services for your project.
If you’re thinking about renovating a property in France, wouldn’t you rather have the Renestance team on your side?
* Names have been changed to protect privacy
Annette is Renestance’s 'go to' girl for all things marketing and social media. Bilingual and originally from Surrey in the UK, Annette has lived in France since 2008. In addition to her web design and marketing consultancy, Annette is the founder of Languedoc Jelly (a network of free events across the region for anyone working from home) and also Urban Sketchers Languedoc (part of a global community of people that like to draw or paint on location). A fan of all things French and Franglaise, she also has a Citroen 2CV called Beryl.
All articles by: Annette Morris