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Property Surveys in Francee

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Introduction
Property surveys do not exist in quite the same way as they do in other countries such as the UK, where, for example, they are nigh-on obligatory if you need to take out a mortgage. Very few French will commission a survey, instead taking the view that if the property has stood for a number of years, it is likely to continue to do so. Moreover, property professionals (such as architects, boilers, artisans and project managers) are obliged to guarantee their work for ten years with an ‘Assurance Decenal’. Indeed, the professional of surveyor does not exist here in France.


Should you wish to have a professional look at a property before you buy it, there are several solutions – about which more below.

Obligatory ‘Etude Diagnostique’
Before a property is sold, the vendor is obliged by law to provide an independent ‘Etude Diagnostique’ at their expense. This report forms part of the ‘Compromis de Vente’, and must be signed by both parties.
It covers, in great detail:

  • Lead – contained in paintwork
  • Asbestos
  • Termites and other wood infestation. Termites are a big issue in France, the discovery of their presence requires that the local Mairie be informed. Other wood infestations, such as wood worm, are much less of an issue – indeed every period property has it to a degree, and one should be worried if a property didn’t!
  • Gas Installations
  • Electrical Installations
  • Environment – eg is the area liable to flooding (for which reports are held by Mairies, and have great significance for issues such as planning permission), and land heave (which is common in this area of clay soil).
  • Energetic performance – giving an indicator similar to that of new washing machine, itself a function of heating method, efficiency of boiler, double glazing, insulation etc.
Optional Structural Survey
We can call upon a local British, RICS-qualified surveyor who can carry out two types of survey on your behalf:
  • Full written survey - similar to that you might expect in the UK. By its very nature, these tend to err significantly on the side of caution, and are more costly.
  • Verbal Survey / Accompanied Visit – this is particularly appropriate and valuable where you have particular concerns, or you want to learn about a property’s structure, building techniques etc, and if you want to understand real issues and solutions. A verbal brief is two way, and allows for a more measured and practical debrief, and question and answer session.

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