French Plans is a fully bilingual nationwide architectural and planning service. Director Arthur Cutler has over 20 years’ experience of solving French building conundrums.
Certain works or home improvements for tourist accommodation may be helped along with state grants or other aid. Arthur Cutler explains how to go about checking for eligibility.
Q1: Can I get a grant for renovation works?
We run a small chambre d’hôtes in Limousin. I have read that there is financial assistance available from local tourist bodies for those embarking upon renovation works. How does this work and who is deemed suitable for such grants?
There are a number of possibilities. Much depends on the nature of works intended, the precise location (as there are regional variations), and also how the business itself is set up. It should be mentioned that financial assistance doesn’t necessarily mean grants or “free” funds, but includes specialist business loans, tax reliefs, etc.
- Nature of works: As a general rule, financial assistance is available for renovation or other works which upgrade and improve the comfort, safety and quality of the services offered to guests.
- Location: Each department and region (and sometimes individual communes) has access to a variety of financial aid packages – some for private individuals, and some for businesses in the tourist sector. The type and availability of aid packages also varies from time to time, so what may be available in one department today, may not be available elsewhere and vice-versa.
- Business set-up: Some aid/loans are only available if the business is set up in a particular way, and has a certain number of employees – for example, a sole-trader may be able to apply for some loans, whereas others are only available to limited companies (EURL, SARL, SAS, etc). It can be important to discuss the set-up with your accountant before finalising the registration.
- Final note: Alterations to premises which are open to the public may be subject to fire safety and disabled access regulations – seek advice from a planning expert.
Head to the chambre de commerce for more information on financial aid to the tourist sector.
Q2: What colour can I paint my French house?
I read with interest about residents in Brest who were offered money from the local council to paint the outside of their house in bright colours. When it comes to renovation, can people paint their house whatever colour they like?
The short answer is ‘no’. The first point to remember is that ANY change to the external appearance of a property is likely to require planning permission – and that includes the colour of masonry, external joinery, the addition of roof lights, etc, as well as the more obvious need for planning consent for extensions, renovations, conversions…
- Colour palette: Every region/department of France has a guide to the colours in use historically, and most insist on the use of such traditional colours in order maintain the ‘patrimoine’ (heritage) of the area.
- Local issues: In addition to the general nationwide principle of heritage, each commune in France has the option to produce its own guide and regulatory framework for planning issues.
- Special cases: The question in this case relates to the town of Brest. The decision was taken to ignore local traditions in order to achieve specific aims
– for example, to make the town more interesting or attractive to visitors.
Check with your mairie whether there are any colours which must be used or avoided before starting your decorating.
Building or Renovating Your French Property?
Whether you’re building an extension, renovating an old farmhouse, or designing a new build property, FrenchEntrée is here to help! Check out our Essential Reading articles for everything you need to know about planning permissions, building regulations, and renovation projects. Or, for professional help, advice and assistance at all stages of your building or renovation project, get in touch with our partners at French Plans.
Lead photo credit : © COTTONBRO at Pexels
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