If you’re considering buying a property in France, then having a house survey conducted before you commit to the purchase process is one of the most sensible things you can do.


You may have heard that property surveys in France aren’t the done thing. This is true. While there are a number of compulsory property inspections a seller is required to provide by law, these are merely diagnostic surveys, and by no means uncover the structural integrity of the building.


This is worrying. In the UK, Direct Line Home Insurance conducted research in 2020 which revealed that 42% of surveys uncovered issues with properties which might not otherwise have been discovered. The study also found that a quarter of homebuyers who didn’t have a house survey conducted were hit with unexpected bills of £3,676 on average later on.


In addition, estate agents found that property buyers who found problems with the property through taking out a survey were able to negotiate an average discount of £5,744 on the asking price.


As Dan Simson, Head of Direct Line Home Insurance puts it: “Investing in a survey before purchasing a property can save a huge amount of money and hassle in the long run. Surveys are there to protect the buyer, enabling them to get a better idea of any repairs that might be needed and any problems to look out for in the future.”

Types of House Survey in France

Nobody wants to end up with a French property that needs extensive and expensive repairs – or one that they can’t sell. Nonetheless, French buyers still tend not to have a professional building survey conducted before purchase.


However, just because French building surveys aren’t compulsory or common practice doesn’t mean it’s not in your best interest to commission one before you plough tens of thousands into a property.


By having a survey, you’ll be armed with information on the precise condition of the property, what’s going on beneath the paint and plasterwork, and what type of repairs you can expect to be dealing with. All of this puts you in a stronger position to decide whether or not to proceed with the purchase – or negotiate a better deal.


There are three main types of property survey reports you can commission. Let’s consider them one at a time.


Condition Report


The Condition Report is a type of house survey designed to provide the buyer with a brief assessment of the property’s overall condition and identify any visible risks and urgent defects. Condition Reports are best suited for new-build homes in good condition.


Home Buyer Report


A Home Buyer Report is more in-depth than a Condition Report, designed to identify if there are any underlying structural problems with the building, such as subsidence or damp, and usually includes a property valuation. This type of report is most suitable for properties in reasonable condition.


Full Structural Survey


The Full Structural Survey is the most comprehensive survey of the three, providing the buyer with a detailed report with an in-depth analysis of the property’s structural condition, as well as advice on defects, remedial works, and maintenance options. A Full Structural Survey is recommended for older properties or for those that are visibly in need of repair.

Charles Mackintosh, South of France Property Surveyor 

Structural surveys are always conducted in the buyer’s interest. If you’re considering a property purchase in the South of France, get in touch with RICS chartered surveyor Charles Mackintosh. With over 30 years’ experience living and operating in the region, Charles specialises in giving English language house surveys and property advice to overseas buyers.