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Renovating a House in France

So you’re thinking of buying a house with great age and bags of character, but what do you need to think about? Our guide explains all you need to know about home renovations in France.

So you’ve bought a French house with great age and bags of character. To the casual observer, it’s a ruin - but to you, it just oozes potential. All that stands between you and the beautiful home of your dreams is a bit of renovation. What are you going to need?

Top of your list is, of course, money. After that comes more money. Some useful personal qualities are vision, patience, perseverance, a positive attitude and a working knowledge of French. Almost everyone who has trodden this path found that it was harder, took longer and cost more than they originally thought – but in the end, almost everyone also says it was worth it.

How to start restoring your French house

First step is to probe beneath the surface for a true assessment of the state of the structure and essential heavy-duty projects like weatherproofing the roof and walls or making good the foundations. You may need an architect, who can advise on local and national building regulations, planning permission and the need for notification of work to be carried out (declaration de travaux). A permit may also be required for any demolition. Be prepared for the red tape to take time.

From French ruin to dream home

Internal structures like floors, staircase, loft or cellar come next – and restoring features such as fireplace, shutters or floor tiles. All this could involve employing and managing local artisans or getting to know the best place to source timber and other materials if you’re tackling the work yourself.

Of course, you’ll want to install a new kitchen and bathroom – but before that, the house may require rewiring, so there’s a need to know about electricity tariffs, French plugs and safety regulations. When it comes to heating, will you have solar, log-burning, oil, gas, electricity or underfloor? Outside the property, the garden will probably need landscaping and you may fancy a swimming pool to make your dream complete. By the time you’ve finished, you’ll need a place to relax….

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