©tools via flickr
“Be prepared”. The motto of the boy scouts. When you apply it to French property renovations and works it takes on an even more important role.

Why you should take advantage of winter:

Anyone reflecting on a long winter evening thinking that later in the year they would like to carry out some works on their French home, be it a principle residence or holiday home, and using this time looking at ways of making the process easier will, undoubtedly, have a better experience when the time comes to having the works done.

Spreading the cost:

For the “do-it-yourself” enthusiast it may simply be a case of a coat of paint or something more complex, a new kitchen or re-modelling a room. Either way organising tools, equipment and materials can be started ahead. A simple checklist will show what you have now available to complete the envisaged task as well as indicate what needs to be purchased. This buying can be started in winter and makes the extended credit work in your favour, spreading the costs over a longer period towards a defined goal or project.


If Artisan or Professional involvement is required then winter is a good time to start the conversation –and I do mean conversation.

Rather than saying,

I want to divide a room in the attic of my house

try to be specific,

I have an attic in my French property in XYZ ,the nearest town is ABC. I am thinking I would like to create two bedrooms and a bathroom from the space, which is approximately 15 metres long by 5 metres wide. I have attached some photos and a rough drawing. Is this something you would be interested in quoting for?

Which do you think is likely to inspire a response and start the ball rolling in a positive way? 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.

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. 3 months from start to permission received would not be a not unreasonable time frame. So starting in late January could take you to the beginning of May! This time can be best used getting quotes and having the conversations with various trades. 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.

• Stephen Davies, Topic Host
Photo by ©toolstop via flickr
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