Part of France Media

Your FAQs answered – our exhibitors share their expert knowledge – part 1

Posted on 23 January 2023



Exhibitors from the French Property Exhibition share their expert knowledge with answers to some of your FAQs

House renovation

Check the feasibility of your project before you buy – Shutterstock

I’d like to buy a renovation project in France, what should I consider before I start viewing properties?

Steve Gillham of Alliance French Property (Stand 55) replies:

Your project will probably involve either an alteration to the external appearance or a change of use, converting a barn, attic or cellar into residential accommodation. This would require permission so you can check that your plans comply with the local planning regulations (PLU). When making an offer, make it conditional upon receipt of a positive certificat d’urbanisme opérationnel. This informs you about the feasibility of your project and is valid for 18 months (but is not planning permission). It can be applied for by the estate agent but as you have the option to include plans, sketches and photos using a specialist consultant will help when it comes to submitting the planning permission. Also, study the diagnostic reports as these cover the presence of asbestos, lead and timber infestation, and the condition of the electrical, gas, sanitation system and water supplies, as well as the thermal efficiency of the habitable areas.

Cleaning team

Property management can include cleaning services – Shutterstock

I have a home in southwest France and am interested in property management services, what does it involve?

Pete O’Grady of Prestige Property Network (Stand 1) replies:

You should find someone registered and insured to offer these services, which can typically include any combination of keyholding, inspection visits, mail forwarding, house cleaning, DIY plus garden and pool maintenance. If the person also speaks French then they can assist with various French administration tasks, e.g. dealing with utility companies, local Trésor (tax office), gendarmes (police) and mairie (town hall). Many British couples throughout France offer these services, whose complementary skill sets provide a ‘one-stop shop’ for all the caretaking required – remembering that all properties and owners are different! Charges vary considerably, but as an example, hourly rates will probably range from €20 to €35+ depending upon the particular service required.


How soon before a move should the removal company be contacted and what does the quote involve?

Rob Bartup of GB Liners (Stand 53) replies:

I’d suggest that anyone considering moving to France starts the process three months or so beforehand by selecting a list of qualified removal companies to approach. Recommendations from friends and family is a good starting point and online reviews are another useful indicator. Look for companies who are members of the British Association of Removers and therefore adhere to the Trading Standards approved Code of Practice. Many of the specialist overseas removers within the BAR also offer a worldwide Advanced Payment Guarantee. Only choose a mover who offers a worldwide guarantee.

Most companies will carry out a survey to determine the size of vehicle required, the materials required and the manpower needs. This can either be a visit to your home or a virtual survey. Quiz the mover about all your concerns and their ability to match your needs. When comparing quotes, check that the specifications are the same, for example, all the quotes include packing, are for a dedicated vehicle on dates of your choice and include cover against loss and damage to the value you require. Book your move at least a month before your moving date, more if you are planning on moving during the peak months of July and August when availability is very much ‘first come first served’.

Doors of houses

Changing windows or doors requires planning permission – Shutterstock

What works need planning permission in France?

Arthur Cutler of French Plans (Stand 57) replies:

Planning consent is required for any external changes to the appearance of a property, for example creating or changing doors and windows. Also, any change of use such as barn or garage conversions, or converting a former shop into a dwelling. Modifications to the external footprint or internal habitable areas also requires permission, to include extensions, creating new internal floors (mezzanines, raising the walls and roof, to create an additional storey etc). And lastly, creating annexes such as a swimming pool, garden shed, carport or greenhouse.

Ski scene

Buy a ski property with easy access to Geneva, for example, in Chatel, Portes du Soleil, for year-round use. – Shutterstock


What are the advantages of the Lake Geneva area for British buyers of ski property?

Howard Watts of Lake & Alps Properties (Stand 9) replies:

Ease of access from the UK is key, with air, road or rail options. The resorts here are ideal for both summer and winter use, with a wide range of activities on offer. On the lake people sail, water ski, windsurf and swim in spring, summer and autumn. There are several golf courses, tennis clubs and spas; Evian and Thonon are beautiful floral towns where one can enjoy life all year round. Buyers have a choice of Portes du Soleil (Chatel and Morzine valleys), Thollon Les Memises (a ski village overlooking Lake Geneva) and Evasion Mont Blanc (villages close to Chamonix). Another benefit is that many of the local French population speak English. Properties are well priced and of good quality.


I’m looking for a home with one or two gîtes to provide an income, what advice would you give me?

Samm Khoury of Richard Immobilier (Stand 37) replies:

When running a gîte complex, the market is very competitive so you need to make sure you offer something special to draw in the clients, you need to make sure the property has great curb appeal in the right location. With the warm climate we have in southwest France, a swimming pool is a must for guests.

Don’t forget to register for free tickets to the French Property Exhibition on 28-29 January here.