Buying a property in France is an exciting endeavour, whether it’s a charming cottage in the countryside or a chic apartment in Paris. However, before you finalise the sale and purchase agreement, it’s crucial to conduct a building survey to assess the property’s condition and identify any potential issues.

How to Choose the Right French Property Survey for You

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Read more: How to Find the Right French Surveyor for Your Needs

With several types of French property surveys available, it’s essential to understand your options and choose the one that best suits your needs. In this article, we will guide you through the process of selecting the right property survey.

Understanding the Purpose of French Property Surveys

Building surveys in France serve to evaluate the structural integrity and overall condition of a property. They help identify any defects, potential risks, or hidden problems that may not be apparent during a casual viewing. From the buyer’s perspective, property surveys are essential for making informed decisions, obtaining negotiating power, and planning future renovations.

Types of French Property Survey

Compulsory Surveys

The first type survey to be aware of is the DDT, or dossier de diagnostic technique (technical diagnosis file). This is a compulsory survey report that is paid for by the seller. It contains nine survey reports that centre around determining whether there are any natural or industrial risks associated with the property, as well as its general safety and energy efficiency.

These are:

1.     Asbestos Inspection: For buildings with permits issued before July 1st, 1997, this report identifies any asbestos-containing materials found in the property.

2.     Wastewater Inspection: Required for properties not connected to the public water drainage system, including a septic tank survey if applicable.

3.     Lead Inspection: Pertains to buildings constructed before January 1st, 1949, to identify the presence of lead, such as in lead paintwork.

4.     Electrical Inspection: Conducted on buildings older than 15 years to assess the condition of electrical installations.

5.     Natural and Ecological Risk Inspection: Mandatory for properties in areas prone to natural risks like floods or landslides. Results in a certificate indicating the property’s vulnerability to a natural disaster.

6.     Gas Inspection: Required for properties over 15 years old with a natural gas installation.

7.     Termite/Fungal/Insect Inspection: Compulsory for properties located in areas with high insect, termite, or fungal infestation risks.

8.     Surface Area Inspection: Applies to residential or commercial real estate in communal properties, providing measurements of the total living space within the building.

9.     Energy Performance Inspection: Also known as the diagnostic de performance energétique (DPE), this assessment applies to all buildings and evaluates their energy performance and efficiency. The DPE determines the building’s energy rating, which must be displayed sale listings.

Non-Mandatory Property Surveys

In addition to the DDT, buyers are advised to commission a professional building survey from RICS chartered building surveyor. This is because the DDT surveys are not designed to unearth any structural problems with a building, and they do not reveal any repairs or remedial work that may be required.

The only way to obtain this information in the pre-purchase phase is by having a professional building survey conducted. Depending on the type of survey you choose, you will also be able to obtain an impartial property valuation, as well as advice on how to get planning permission for any extensions or improvements you plan to make.

Read more: An Easy Guide on How to Get French Planning Permission

The three main types of survey reports are as follows:

Level 1 – Condition Report

Designed for new-build homes in good condition, the Level 1 survey provides a brief assessment of the property’s overall condition and identifies any urgent defects.

Level 2 – Home Buyer Report

Most suitable for properties over 10 years old in reasonable condition, the Level 2 survey is more detailed than Level 1. It aims to identify underlying structural issues like damp or subsidence. Additionally, the Level 2 report often includes a property valuation.

Level 3 – Full Structural Survey

The most comprehensive survey available, the Level 3 survey provides an in-depth analysis of the property’s structural condition. It offers advice on defects, remedial works, and maintenance options. This survey is recommended for older properties or those visibly in need of repair.

Choosing the Right Property Survey

In order to decide which type of survey is most relevant to your purchase, consider the specific requirements of your property. If you’re buying an older house, a comprehensive Level 3 survey is critical to identify any structural issues. On the other hand, if the house is relatively new and you don’t plan on making any serious improvements that would require planning permission, a Level 1 or Level 2 survey will likely suffice.

In all cases, when consulting a potential surveyor, you should agree in advance about what the survey will include and exclude. In addition, you should share any plans you may have for alterations, extensions, demolitions, or other modifications with the surveyor. This information will help them assess the property accordingly. Finally, choose a surveyor who is familiar with the local area where the property is located. Local surveyors possess better knowledge of regional construction types, property values, and building prices, enabling them to better understand local issues and potential problems.

Charles Mackintosh – South of France Property Surveyor

No one should purchase a property in Southern France without enlisting the services of a professional building surveyor.

If you think you’ve found your dream property in the South of France, Charles Mackintosh is at your service. With over 30 years’ experience living and operating in the region, Charles specialises in providing highly regarded English language property surveys and advice for overseas buyers. Get in touch today for more information.