ONE of the appeals of buying an older property in France is to have a building full of character and style.
But it can be a challenge to retain these elements and at the same time renovate your home so that it is comfortable to live in.
So equipping people with the skills to do this is one of the reasons behind a one-day course set-up by the UK’s Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB).
The course will feature Marianne Suhr, pictured, co-presenter of TV’s popular Restoration series and SPAB’s roving education officer.
“Brits are buying houses abroad cheaply and then ruining them. We should, of course, be repairing these beautiful old buildings responsibly,” Marianne said.
“But this is not just an ethical issue. If you are looking at a property, wherever it is, as a long-term investment then it makes sense to do it properly by keeping historic features intact.
“These are actually selling points that will add to future value.”
People will be able to question property experts on the day who have experience of property renovation in France and be introduced to issues including:
· French vernacular style
· DIY surveys – what to look out for when buying
· Sorting out the paperwork – a brief overview
· Calling in the contractors
· The devil in the detail
· Traditional surfaces and finishes
One of the experts present will be British architect Peter Ayley, who works from a studio near Toulouse in France, and he will be presenting a section on getting the finer details right from the outset.
“The major mistake people make is being seduced by the directness of simple constructions – such as a barn for example,” Peter said.
“Clearly these buildings have no wiring, no thermal insulation - no creature comforts in fact, but making them habitable to today’s standards often destroys the quality that made them attractive in the first place.
“We must encourage people to carry the torch of SPAB to France, to get it right.”
The SPAB course Repairing a House in France is on April 21 at the National Trust's Studland Bay Education Centre in Dorset and costs £100.
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