Ground rules

French Property News|June 2020

Ground rules
If you ask the right questions and apply for the correct documents, there is nothing stopping you from completing your dream project in France, says Andrew Allen
Andrew Allen

For the many people who dream of buying a home in France, frequently the choice is an older, traditional style property because of the charm and character they can possess.

Often this means that some renovation or conversion work will be required which should usually be an enjoyable and trouble-free process. However, there are some pitfalls that potential buyers should be aware of in order to avoid unforeseen problems.

WHERE AND WHAT ARE YOU BUYING?

This may seem rather obvious, but it is a good idea to verify estate agents’ details or the vendor’s word that you will be able to convert or renovate your potential purchase in the way that you would like to.

Planning rules are very localised in France, so don’t take it for granted that you will be able to convert or extend a property because someone else close by has done something similar. It may well be that their property is in a different planning zone, even if they are your neighbours.

If you are thinking of establishing a business from your property then this can be particularly important. We had a client who, before purchasing a property, was told that he would be allowed to set up a campsite there. After completing the purchase he asked us to obtain the relevant planning consents. On contacting the local planning department we were informed that no planning consent could be given as the land was not in a planning zone that allowed campsites, even though he had been told otherwise when purchasing the property.

RENOVATION COSTS

Frequently, the cost of renovating a building is underestimated. It should be remembered that although property prices are generally much lower in France than in the UK, the cost of building and renovating isn’t.

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June 2020