Do I need a French property survey?
There are some really good reasons to invest in a survey before buying a property in France, whatever the age, condition or location.
It's a bit of a minefield to say the least when it comes to properties in France. As is the case anywhere in the world, builders' workmanship and technical controls can vary widely from property to property.
diagnostic reports (known collectively as a DDT) are useful for both buyers and sellers, but they don’t cover the important issues of damp, condition and structure, so you may want to consider an independent property inspection to complement the diagnostics reports.
A good property surveyor will provide you with unbiased information and practical advice, and may also be able to recommend architects or contractors in the area to help.
Is a French property survey the same as a diagnostic report (DDT)?
Essentially, no. A seller is legally required to provide several
diagnostic reports (a dossier de diagnostic technique [DDT]) covering areas including energy efficiency, asbestos, lead, gas, electricity, termites and dry rot, drainage and major natural risks and, in some Departments, swimming pool safety.
However, it’s worth noting that diagnostics reports don’t cover the key issues of damp, condition and structure.
Defects - including the hidden ones not reported within diagnostics reports - can go unchecked for years, and it's important to know not only if an issue can be rectified but also whether it will be easy to put right and, of course, how much it will cost!
What is a diagnostics inspection? to find out more.
Do I need a survey if I’m buying a new property?
Any newly built property – i.e. up to 10 years old – is generally guaranteed by building insurance. While a detailed survey and report is probably unnecessary, an independent short survey and snagging list is a good idea, as it should uncover anything that may not have been picked up by the builder. If you need some help or advice, take a look at our
pre-completion handover service here.
Properties over 10 years old can be affected by limited building and planning controls and varied construction methods, resulting in all sorts of defects and issues, so a survey is advisable to check for common problems, including damp, subsidence, defective roofing tiles, and old or inadequate electrics, heating and drainage.
How could a survey help me if I’m buying a property to renovate?
Even if you’re planning to completely renovate a property, knowing what you’re actually buying is still very important.
A good surveyor can give you guidance on the property’s structure and condition, as well as outlining recommended building work, and indicative cost estimates. So, you’ll have a much better idea of whether you’ll be able to renovate the property as you want, and also if it’s financially viable to do so.
Initially, it may seem like a bargain, but if the house is subsiding or it needs complete rewiring, for example, you might decide to look elsewhere! A comprehensive report can also be used to compare properties on your shortlist, so you can make the right decision on your dream home.
How to save money with a property survey to find out more.
How do I find a suitable surveyor in France?
Choosing the right surveyor in France needn’t be problematic. The French property market and purchasing process is somewhat different to other countries, but a surveyor who understands the industry can help make things easier.
Choose a qualified, experienced surveyor – ideally a member of the
Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) – so you can be confident that the service provided is regulated to high professional and ethical standards.
Make sure the company you choose is registered in the UK or France. A UK-registered business should have correct insurance cover. To protect you as a client, this policy should include insurance for providing structural opinion. But always verify this with your chosen surveyor.