MANY people buy a property in France without first taking out a survey, beyond taking a quick look at the walls and the roof.
But as prices rise then it may be wise to either take a more thorough look at your potential purchase or turn to the services of a surveyor.
Below Martin Rushton of Surveyors in France offers an insight into buying a property and what to look out:
“It’s been there for two hundred years, it will be there for the next fifty." Anon
“Twenty-five years in the architectural and building surveying fields have shown me how wrong that statement can be,” said Martin Rushton, a chartered building surveyor.
“There are many old buildings that are hundreds of years old and some will still be here in a few hundred years time.
“The thing is an old building, in fact any building, needs to be looked after correctly to ensure that it stays in a sound condition.”
The problem can be that many buildings are constructed in such a way, or with certain materials, as to make this ‘looking after’ quite a liability for the owner.
Indeed, some things that need to be done may be far from apparent and because of this, considerable damage can occur before it is actually seen and obvious, by which time serious, expensive and disruptive remedial works are necessary.
In all eras of buildings there are inherent weaknesses, defects waiting to manifest as problems,” Martin said.
“Then of course there is what the owners end up doing to them and the attacks that the natural world can throw at them such as fungus, insects, floods, radon gas, earth tremors even.”
Lisa Feay, Surveyors in France co-ordination centre manager, said: “The attitude of the French is perhaps a little different to the British, but as the property market here in France evolves and property is seen more as an investment than just somewhere to live, I think that this French point of view will change.”
Lisa went on to say that a French estate agent recently said to her that; ten years ago a crack in the building was somewhere to put the publicity papers that fall through the letterbox. A really big crack became a window. Now the French are taking a different view and the drought of 2003 certainly made many stop and think as the cracks in the walls appeared.
Martin has noted that since undertaking his first survey in France back in the early 1990’s, he has watched the trend in house prices in all regions of France increase. Over the past five years, in some regions it has been dramatic double figure price inflation and thinks that the upward trend is set to continue for several years.
Lisa explained that with the increase in price comes closer scrutiny by the buyer of what they are actually spending their hard earned money on. Some buyers are being caught out though and are paying top dollar prices for problem properties such as those with subsidence, damp, high maintenance costs or dangerous features.
Unfortunately many have jumped in feet first and have ended up with a renovation project that they can’t manage or afford.
Where does this leave those who are looking for their dream home in France?
“Vulnerable,” Martin said. “Many nightmare properties are still being bought by unsuspecting buyers, who are lulled into a false sense of security by frequent comments such as ‘here in France we don’t have surveys done’ and ‘building surveyors don’t exist in France’.”
“Well, they do. That’s why Surveyors in France is here and being based in France we are familiar with French construction techniques, ancient buildings, its culture and bureaucracy.”
Surveyors in France: www.surveyorsinfrance.com . You may email firstname.lastname@example.org or feel free to telephone + (0) 9 70 44 85 45.
If you found this useful...
+ Stay up-to-date: Get your free This French Life newsletter