Though it may come as a surprise to many overseas buyers, full structural surveys are not common practice when buying and selling property in France – even though it is highly advisable.


A full structural survey is in every buyer’s interest, as it is only by having such a professional investigation carried out that you can be sure there are no serious defects to the property you’re about to hand over tens if not hundreds of thousands of Euros for – or, if there are any defects, what they are, and how much they will likely cost to remedy.


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


Be that as it may, full structural surveys are not required by law, and many French buyers take the risk and do not bother with them.


One survey that is required by law, however, is what’s known as a DPE. What is a DPE report in France? This article will answer that question.

Mandatory Survey – What Is a DPE Report in France?

The Diagnostic Performance Energétique – usually abbreviated as DPE – is a mandatory energy performance diagnosis survey in France.


The primary purpose of a DPE is to provide information on the energy performance of a building by assessing its energy consumption and impact in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, a DPE survey also tests for the presence of asbestos, lead in paint, termites, fungi, and insect larvae, as well as gas and electrical safety, and private wastewater drainage.

What Is the Purpose of a DPE Report?

DPEs are part of European energy policy, designed to reduce the energy consumption of buildings and limit the emissions of greenhouse gases. Mandatory since September 2006, a DPE report must be drawn up for any sale of any house – including detached properties, semi-detached, and flats/apartments within larger buildings.


The DPE must either be attached to the sale agreement (i.e., a preliminary contract), or the actual deed of sale.


The main objective of a DPE is to give the buyer accurate information regarding the building’s insulation and any other factors that affect heating bills and greenhouse gas emissions. A DPE report will give an estimate of the energy consumption of a building based on electricity usage, its impact on emissions, and will include recommendations on how to improve the building to reduce both.

Who Is Responsible for Commissioning a DPE Report?

The seller.


DPEs are carried out at the seller’s expense. The seller must also keep a copy of the DPE report and make it available to any prospective buyer once the property is on sale.


A DPE report is valid for ten years, unless significant energy consumption-related renovations have been carried out – such as new windows, doors, roofing, or insulation. That said, a previous owner’s DPE report cannot be used, even if it is still valid and within date.

Charles Mackintosh – RICS Chartered South of France Property Surveyor

If you’re considering buying a property in the South of France and need help understanding a DPE report or are looking for a full structural survey, Charles Mackintosh can help. With over 30 years’ experience living and working in the region, Charles provides highly regarded English language property advice and surveys to overseas buyers. Get in touch today for more information.