Wealth & Property

Things To Consider Before Buying Renovation Property In France

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Buying and renovating a house is an exciting challenge, presenting a blank canvass for those willing to undertake such a project.

Finding the right property can be a task, but in France, the opportunities are there for those who look close enough. The Local explains how in the town of Roubaix, houses could be yours for as little as one euro if you’re up for the task of renovating and improving it. Whilst the catch with those properties is obvious, with any renovation task there are likely to be unforeseen issues and obstacles, which stall progression and cause headaches.

The route to buying and renovating your dream home is never direct and there are plenty of things you should consider before buying a renovation property in France, whether a project such as Roubaix, or something a little more ambitious in a different location.


With any renovation project setting an appropriate budget is key to ongoing success. If you’re coming from outside of France to renovate a property, then budgeting is going to be more important. Consider wider financial implications of investing in another country. For instance, France 24’s article on ‘How Will Brexit Affect French Industry’ suggests that Great Britain exiting the European Union might have an effect on the economy – it could affect the exchange rate too, giving you a real headache if your budget is reliant on a favorable rate.

Always build in a contingency over and above what you expect to spend. We’ve already explained how you need to understand your costs when buying in France, a point we simply cannot emphasize enough. Make sure you have a budget and at least 15% extra over as a contingency for problems or external forces.

Septic Tank

This is a consideration specific to France. If the property you are buying to renovate comes with a ‘fosse septique’ then make sure you know exactly where that is on the property.

New regulations state that if you don’t know the location, you’ll have to put in a new one and that’s a big expense. An older property is also likely to have an older system, which deals with toilet waste only. Other water waste, from sinks and baths, used to drain into the surrounding ground or a nearby ditch. That’s no longer the case and if you get caught out, the cost of your renovation is likely to increase dramatically.

Doing Work Yourself

Hiring builders you know and trust is hard at the best of times, but if you’re headed to another country, it can be even more challenging. If you’re planning on doing work yourself, make sure it is within your skillset. For instance, you can start with the easy task of replacing old light bulbs in your newly acquired property with newer and more energy-efficient ones. HomeServe’s feature on ‘How to Change a Light Bulb’ highlights how you can do this yourself with some spare bulbs and a step ladder. This is the first logical step to take, as you’ll be able to work better under ample lighting while you’re addressing other repairs around the house.

From there, you can move on to replacing locks, repainting walls, and other chores that you can do yourself. However, when it comes to specialist jobs, such as repairing the roof or electrics, then it makes sense not to bite off more than you can chew due to budget restrictions. Be sensible when planning your project and only do jobs yourself if you know you can complete them without causing more issues (and repair costs) further down the line.


In many countries, concrete foundations are the norm, but on an older French property, this may not be the case. Certainly, most stone houses in the countryside use walls which have been excavated down to solid ground, then built up again using large stones at the base. Local clay was then often used as a mortar, but this isn’t a stable construction type.

Houses on these foundations can be prone to movement. In extreme weather, it can lead to cracks appearing in buildings. Don’t panic if your property is showing these symptoms though; it is correctable. The key is understanding if this is going to be an issue before you buy a property.

Buying in France can bring you an idyllic life in a country as rich in culture as it is beautiful in landscapes. With a few simple points before buying your property to renovate, you can make sure your introduction into French life is as seamless, and cost-effective, as possible.



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