If you’re considering buying a home in France, then having a building survey professionally conducted before purchase is one of the most sensible things you can do. The requirements for property surveys in France are quite different than they are in the UK or US, so it’s important to be aware of how things work in the country. 


We’ve put together this blog post to help guide you through what you need to know about property surveys in France.

Property Surveys in France: Diagnostic Surveys

In France, full building surveys are not compulsory, and it is in fact unusual for French buyers to have one done. That said, sellers are required by law to carry out certain compulsory inspections. These inspections are known as the Dossier de Diagnostic Technique (DDT). 


The DDT includes tests to determine the presence of lead in paint, asbestos levels, fungal or termite infestations in woodwork, energy usage and insulation, and certain industrial and environmental risks such as earthquakes and flooding. Septic tank drainage systems are also covered in a DDT survey report.


However, there is no legislation that mandates full structural inspections are carried out by a building surveyor before the sale of a building. As such, the DDT does not cover all bases that need to be covered before you plough your life savings into an unknown French property. 


For this, you need to commission the services of a professional property surveyor

Using a Property Surveyor in France

A professional RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) building surveyor is not only able to spot existing and potential building problems, but has the experience and local knowledge to determine what those problems will likely cost you to fix. 


During inspections, building surveyors use their nose as well as their eyes – and can smell damp if it’s present. They are eagle-eyed when it comes to spotting cracks, wonky walls and ceilings, missing roof tiles, and damp stains – some of which are easy fixes, though others expensive to put right. 


Crucially, any chartered building surveyors you consult should be 100% independent and not tied to an estate agent – especially the one that’s trying to sell you the house.  


Read more: English Speaking Surveyors in France: Your Hiring Guide


When the inspection is finished, the surveyor will present you with his/her findings in a building survey report, which will allow you to weigh up your options. The report may contain cost estimates on any remedial works that may be required – however, be aware that these will be guide figures only. The only way to know precisely what any building works are going to cost is to garner fixed-price builder’s quotes. A good surveyor will help you organise a meeting with a local builder to discuss costs should the survey reveal significant defects. Additionally, should you be planning to build an extension on your chosen property, a chartered building surveyor will be able to advise you on things like planning permission and help you find an architect.


Read more: What Property Survey Should I Have Done in the South of France?

Where to Find a Property Surveyor in France

You’ve already found one. 


Charles Mackintosh is a RICS chartered surveyor who has lived and worked in the South of France for over 30 years providing English language property surveys and advice for overseas buyers. 


Charles’s expertise lies in finding and acquiring the finest properties in the South of France for clients. Acting as the purchaser throughout the transaction, Charles provides a highly personalised service advising on the suitability of properties in line with buyers’ wants and desires, as well as personally liaising with all other professionals throughout the process.


Get in touch today to find out more.