Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Renovating an older property in France

The French have a passion for buying newly-built properties. They are often cheaper than renovating an older property, are constructed (normally) where there is a demand and basic services are provided, close to work - and most recently, constructed in accordance with the latest BBC normes (designed for low energy consumption). This means two things - if you have an older property you wish to sell, you may have to make some improvements before you can find a buyer; and if you are moving to France to live/retire, you are among the many thousands wanting to find and older property and spend time doing it up. Here I suggest just two valuable ressources which offer valuable guidance.

First, the French TV programme 'Maison à Vendre' presented by an experienced estate agent Stéphane Plaza (Wednesday evenings from 20.55, repeated Sunday afternoons from 13.00 on channel M-6). In the programme Plaza and his team help vendors prepare an older property for sale, that has usually been on the market for several months and has attracted few or no potential buyers. Invariably the decor is from another age and the owners are often retirees wanting to escape south to the sun. Many are over-priced and Plaza is on hand to point out why, taking the owners to visit similar sized properties that have sold, and explaining the reason why. The transformations that he and his team achieve, with the cooperation of the owners, are somewhere between home-staging and a full renovation, and spectacular results are achieved at a cost of between 2 - 4 per cent of the selling price, split between materials and labour costs, and items purchased.  And in virtually every case, the property is sold......

The second ressource is a book in the 'Archi Pas Chere' and called 'Bâtiments modestes réinventés' by Olivier Darmon. Don't worry if your French is not perfect as each of the fifteen case studies  is illustrated with before and after pictures, floor plans and - most important- a breakdown of the actual costs of the work undertaken, showing the cost of each operation (plumbing, heating, electrics, decoration etc). The works have generally been done by French artisans which will give you an idea of how much they cost, under the guidance of an architect.

'Bâtiments modestes réinventés' by Olivier Darmon, Editions Ouest-France, 142 pp, 2012, price €15.90 ISBN 978-2-7373-5238-6