When it comes to any renovation, preparation is key. This is especially true when you’re renovating your French property in winter, where weather conditions and holiday periods mustn’t be underestimated. Should you let your project stall in the colder season, or is there more you could be doing? Here are some key points to bear in mind.
The loss of light and shorter days are an obvious consideration when it comes to exterior works. If the climate allows and your builders are amenable, you could invest in floodlighting. This will stretch out your working day just a little bit further.
Changing light can also affect your perception of things like colour. If you’re picking out paint samples, be aware of how it looks in different conditions. The shutter hue that you adored at dusk in November could look completely different in full June sun!
Spread the cost
If the wintry weather is too much of a deterrent, use this time to buy your tools, equipment and materials. This way, when your renovations are in full swing and you’re spending more on workmen and other expenses, you’ll know that the essentials have already been taken care of. Make a comprehensive list of everything your project will require and work your way through the purchases ahead of time. You never know, they may be discounted in the off season!
If you need to engage the services of an artisan or tradesperson you can get the conversation underway over winter, when they are likely to be less busy. Use the time to engage their full attention on the practicalities of your project, and book them ahead of time. Even if the work can’t be started in winter, you’ll have a better idea of what lies ahead in the new year. This slower pace will also lay the groundwork (pun intended) for a great working relationship going forward.
The client-artisan relationship should (could) be one that makes best use of the artisans skills and expertise, to achieve exactly what the client wishes. This can only happen when clarity of intent is matched by an understanding of what can needs to be done. Both parties have a role to play.
This slow, reflective time also means you can vet a number of craftspeople to narrow down your choice, rather than being stuck with whoever is available at the last minute. You will thank yourself for taking the time to choose your collaborators wisely!
Take care of the paperwork
If the works are of a bigger nature, involving structural alterations that require some form of planning consent, be it Declaration Préalable or Permis de Construire, bear in mind the time frames required to get the actual drawings done and plans submitted to the competent authority. It’s not unreasonable to expect it to take up to three months for all of the relevant permissions to clear, not factoring in any argy bargy with your local offices. This means that even if you start in late January you could be hammering out paperwork and permits into the beginning of May! Start getting quotes and engaging with architects and tradespeople sooner rather than later.
It’s worth noting that artisans are more likely to take seriously a project of this nature for which the client has started the “official” process, thus making it a live project, and not just a speculative one.
Winter disappears fast and summer is the time when artisans are busiest. Doing some of the groundwork in winter for any proposed works on your French property will, without doubt, reap rewards in the sense of lessening frustration, saving time and energy and possibly money. It will certainly save heartache.