There are many properties still available through France to buy for renovation to create a beautiful new home or a holiday cottage for those important family breaks. Brittany has always been one of the favorite regions for this with Brits and Channel Islanders.
When thinking of buying a property to renovate there are many questions that come to mind that it would be nice to get an expert answer to, particularly if the property you're considering is in a different country. This article deals with one frequently asked question, “Do I need a survey before I buy and who will do it for me?” and is in the form of an interview with the questions being asked by a prospective purchaser of property in Brittany.
I'm looking at a property for renovation near Dinan in Brittany, France do I need to have a survey done before I agree to buy?
I would suggest that you always get a survey and an assessment of the cost to bring the house up to modern standards. Particular attention needs to be paid to electrical standards, plumbing standards and fire safety standards not to mention the structural condition of the property.
How would I find a building surveyor in Brittany?
In France building surveyors do not exist in the same way the they do in the UK and the chances are that anyone claiming to be a surveyor will not have any liability insurance. This makes it very hard to find a surveyor and you're probably better off talking to a good builder and ask them to assess the cost of any work that needs to be done.
How will I know if they are any good?
That's very difficult and to a certain degree you will have to trust your instincts but you should check that they are registered with Chambre de Métiers and they should have full insurance for any work that they may undertake. If the registered with Chambre de Métiers and have insurance they will have had to have proven their capabilities to those organizations and will be competent
Is there a professional body to check with?
Yes there is, the Chambre de Métiers is a professional body which regulates builders and trades people. Every builder must hold a Carte Professional that must be available to be checked and this is issued by the governing body Chambre de Métiers.
If I found a surveyor are they legally responsible for their report?
I believe not, because they would not be able to carry liability insurance it would be almost impossible to get and recourse if they have a bad report.
What if I found a builder to do a me a pre-purchase survey would they be liable for their report?
The builder is going to have to show competence and it's not in the builders interest to miss things. He has a financial and a business motivation to make sure that everything is picked up early so that there is no confusion later on. Any work they carry our would be covered by their insurance.
If I get someone to do a survey, and from what you say it needs to be a reputable builder, do they give indications as to cost of jobs which need to be done?
Yes, a good builder should be able to give you a ball park figure really straight away to assess the cost of any works that need doing and advise you where works have to be done.
The builder should also have a good knowledge of any necessary planning applications, planning laws and just general regulations, fire regulations and actual safety.
We were talking about surveyors but we are talking about builder now. If I found a builder to do me a survey will they have links to architects and trades?
Indeed, any experienced builder should have pretty much all the trades and professionals available to him for reference.
You say there are not any structural surveyors in France what surveyors are there?
Surveyors in France tend to be used more for the diagnostics reports and really their surveys and more an overview of the essentials such as asbestos, lead, dangerous termites, it's not a structural survey as you would know it in the UK.
So the report that I get when I'm looking at buying a property, about electrical efficiency and whether or not there is lead and those sorts of things, those people do not do structural surveys.
No, they're not really offering a structural survey service. A good one may give an overview but they are not going to be in a position to give you a full structural survey or full structural report of any type. It's not really there job. Their job is more to ensure safety from poisoning, electrocution and also to give an indication of the cost of heating the property and if it's been insulated.
Once I get to this stage I assume the builder will give me a quotation for doing the work.
Usually at that stage you would get a ball park figure simply because to prepare a contract is very time consuming so we would prepare a ball park figure for you to give some guidance on any monies you will need to find after a purchase. Full quotations will come later after you have decided to buy.
What sort of cost would a survey be?
A good builder who you are intending to use to do the work should be happy to do this for you without cost.
If you were able to find a surveyor in France I am sure the cost would be prohibitive.
You yourself are a builder, how can Fabrick 22 help me with pre-purchase surveys?
We very much want our potential clients to be aware of what they are buying and when they purchase a property to know what it's going to cost to renovate. They need to know what the requirements are going to be because it's easier for everyone to know in advance before they sign on the dotted line for a house, just what they are giving themselves in for. So we are always happy to spend quite a bit of time working with potential clients before their purchase so they can plan the future and not have any unpleasant surprises.