House Building in France
Many people coming to France dream of owning their own home. Some choose an apartment, while others prefer a house. Those looking for a house must choose between an existing property or building a new one. The following information is intended for those who decide to build a house of their own.
Finding the right plot of land and a good builder is imperative. When you have found a piece of land that you like, meet with your Notaire or the Notaire in charge of the sale before making any sort of offer. The Notaire can answer your questions and look into the situation more closely to ensure that you are fully informed before you make a commitment.
Typical points to consider are:
- Is the land appropriate for building?
- Is it suitable for your project in the terms of zoning restrictions, e.g. the height of you proposed house, are there any pre-emptive rights, even what will be the colour of your shutters?
- What is its real value?
- Are there easements on the land, e.g. housing development regulations or specifications, rights of passage for neighbours, common ownership of fencing?
- When buying the property, what additional expenses may be involved e.g. tax to be paid, professional fees, TVA (VAT), mortgage?
- How should you own the property; single or joint ownership, a property partnership?
Then there is the matter of who is going to build it. Your friends and family may know someone who’s used the services of a house builder in France. There are strict laws governing house building contracts, but it’s always best to be careful.
There are two types of contracts for building a detached house. Either a contract with no house plan, where you or an architect are responsible for the layout of the house, or, more commonly, the house plan is included with the contract. This second type of contract is used by most builders, who may offer a selection of houses. All you need to do is choose the type you want and instruct the builder. But you should first learn more about the process and consider your options.
The contract will contain information that is designed to protect you. You, or your Notaire, should check that this information is included in the contract before you sign.
Most important, the contract should contain a description of the property and a reference to the certificate of title. It should also include details on the insurance policy against construction damage, confirmation of any reimbursement or delivery guarantees made by the builder, conformity issues and technical specifications of the house to be built (miscellaneous connections and utilities, interior and exterior fittings, etc.), the total construction cost, payment procedures, the building permit (Certificat d’Urbinisation) and the timetable for completion.
It’s also wise to include in the contract whether you are applying for a mortgage or loan (you can then back out of the contract if your credit application is refused). In addition, be aware that the French legal system provides for a seven-day “cooling-off” period. When you sign the contract, a copy should be delivered to you in person or by mail. Use this seven-day period to think things over as thereafter, you will have made a final commitment.
Finally, if the builder offers to sell you the land as well, a different form of contract is required, i.e. one for the sale of property under construction. If you believe this will apply to you, don’t sign any contract without consulting your notaire first, since he or she must verify the transaction for it to be considered valid.
Should you hire a builder to construct your house in France, contact a notaire before making a commitment.