Tips for Renovating Property in France

Renovating a property is France is never easy, so here some tips to make it easier for you

Whether you’re a recent expat or a longtime resident, the decision to invest in French real estate should not be taken lightly. It’s in your best interest to study French housing market trends, in order to make wise investment decisions. The age of your property is also a significant factor, as many classic buildings and homes across France are in need of renovation or repair.

Properties in France are exceptionally diverse, ranging from quaint cottages in seaside towns such as Côte d’Azur to historic chalets in the heart of Paris. Historic homes are more likely to need a significant upgrade, but even newer homes could use a little sprucing up. Depending on your plan for the property and your budget, you may want to replace dated wallpaper and unattractive carpeting or install all-new appliances.

There’s also energy efficiency to consider, which can benefit both your wallet and the environment. Across France, there are various types of financial assistance available to homeowners who prioritize energy conservation. For instance, the Crédit d’Impôt de la Transition Énergétique (CITE) may be offered to those who do not pay income tax, or who have a negligible tax bill, and who also install energy conservation measures in their main home.

Updating Older Properties

The oldest continuously inhabited living space in France stands at number 51 Rue de Montmorency in Paris — a multi-level stone house that dates back to the 1400s. Formerly the home of famed writer Nicolas Flamel, 51 Rue de Montmorency boasts an exterior of fine Lutetian limestone, the country’s most renowned architectural medium. Creamy gray in color and harvested from quarries in the Oise region, Lutetian limestone is widely known as “Paris stone.” Throughout the past few centuries, building façades, internal floors, and even streets and avenues across Paris have been constructed using the famous stone.

And owning a property wherein Paris stone is a fundamental architectural component requires additional considerations. Many bargain properties in France will contain at least a small amount of Lutetian limestone, which is a poor choice of insulation in and of itself. To keep your energy bills as low as possible, you may need to modernize by properly insulating the stone walls and floors of your historic or classic French home.

Energy Efficiency and French Construction

Energy efficiency remains an important consideration throughout the globe. And In France, the home of the Paris Climate Agreement, alternative energy sources are a major social and economic force. Thus, you may choose to elevate your property to a higher standard where energy conservation is concerned.

Increasingly, energy conservation renovations involve the installation of renewable energy sources, most notably solar panels. But you can go even further during your renewable energy home renovation project, trading outdated appliances for solar-powered versions. A solar water heater provides a cost-effective way for you to save on your energy bills, for example. Or you can opt to install a solar oven or energy-saving air conditioning unit that’s powered by the sun.

Before you go all-out installing solar panels and smart home technology, however, ensure that your property’s electrical wiring is in order, and that your local building codes allow for that type of renovation. French Plans reports that “the rules concerning the installation of solar panels depend on where they are installed, their capacity and whether or not it is in a conservation area.” Thus, a bit of location-specific research is required, and you will likely be required to submit a works declaration for rooftop installation.

As for the electrical wiring aspect of your solar panel system, it’s imperative that your outlets, circuit breakers, plugs, and more are in working order and up to code. Faulty electrical systems can jeopardize your family’s safety, so it’s important to ensure that any existing electrical hazards are addressed before and during a renovation project. Older homes are especially susceptible to a variety of electrical dangers, including wires that aren’t properly grounded and incorrectly sized circuit breakers. And generally speaking, electrical system work should be left to the professionals.

DIY Projects Versus Calling in the Pros

Not all home renovation projects will require the guidance of a professional: In fact, a DIY renovation project can drastically cut down on labour costs, but that’s only a small part of the overall picture. According to Curbed, the decision to take on a project on your own highly depends on the type of renovation you have in mind. Structural repairs and those involving plumbing or your electrical system are better left to the pros, while cosmetic jobs will likely turn out just fine when left in the hands of a creative homeowner.

One cosmetic project that may come up when modernizing a French home is that of updating or completely removing wallpaper. The home decor trend first gained favor in France in the late 1700s, and by the next century, wallpaper innovations were essentially boundless, becoming an intrinsic part of French interior design. However, wallpaper designs that were popular in the past, such as depictions of historical events or bright, synthetic colors, can really date a home.

Modern homeowners can easily give their property a fresh look by removing old wallpaper and swapping it out with modern designs. Conversely, you can eschew wallpaper altogether and simply give your walls a fresh coat of paint. Either way, you’ll need to ensure that your walls are completely free of the old wallpaper, and the job can be time-consuming. You can expect to take about a day to completely strip the walls of a single bedroom, but it may take longer if you uncover wall damage or imperfections that were hidden by wallpaper.

Final Thoughts

For many French expats, owning property in the country is a dream come true. Whether that dream involves a cozy flat in the heart of Paris or a rustic cottage in wine country, however, a modern renovation may be in order. You may want to achieve greater energy efficiency by installing a solar panels system, or simply streamline your interior walls by removing old, outdated wallpaper. No matter the renovation project, make sure to do your research and don’t hesitate to call on a professional if the job becomes too burdensome.


Guest Post by Dan Matthews