What type of Survey do I Need?

Buying a home in France is an important step and a big investment, so it is worth paying for a survey to check the building is sound. Building techniques in France are unlike those in Britain and other countries. The advice of an experienced Surveyor could save you a huge amount of money in expensive repairs later on. As explained above, there are several different types of survey, so understanding the differences between them will help you choose the right survey to suit your needs.
As a general indication, “Pre-purchase Survey” is fine for recently built properties. For older buildings, a “Building Survey” is preferable.
Sometimes the most appropriate kind of inspection can be different for different people as well as for different properties. We would be happy to discuss and explain the options to you.

I already have the “Dossier de Diagnostic Technique (DDT), why do I need a survey?

Since the introduction in December 2000 of the “Loi relative à la Solidarité et au Renouvellement Urbains” (Loi SRU) and in an aim to improve living conditions and reduce pollution, French law requires that a certain number of obligatory diagnostics (inspections) be carried at the time of sale or rental of a property. These diagnostics are the responsibility and are charged to the vendor, cover the following issues:

  • Presence of materials or products containing asbestos (amiante) – if the building permit was issued prior to 01/07/1997
  • Presence of termites (in certain areas).
  • Presence of lead based products – on properties constructed prior to 01/01/1949.
  • Electrical Safety – on installations over 15 years old.
  • Safety of gas Installations over 15 years old.
  • Energy efficiency report (DPE).
  • Risk of natural catastrophe (this is supplied free of charge by the local Mairie)
  • Individual sewage systems (septic tanks),
  • In the case of co-ownership properties, the measurement of private living areas (Loi Carrez).

The introduction of these diagnostics in precipitated conditions meant that the inspections were often carried out by technicians with little or no prior experience. Only this year (2012) have the required professional qualifications been toughened.

Although we believe that these diagnostics are of importance and will always consider the findings alongside our survey report, it is obvious that the inspections are incomplete and no consideration is given to the structural stability of the building (roof, foundations, floors, walls) or such problems as rising or penetrating damp, legal matters etc. etc.

It is all very well knowing that one of the windows has been painted with lead based paint, but what if the roof is likely to fall in next year?!

What is the likely cost?

This is dependent on the kind of survey that you may need. Prices will differ according to length of time needed for the survey, the size of the survey, type of property, the location and more. The more information that you can give us, the more precise our estimate will be.
A survey will always be preceded by a contract between us and the client. The “Terms and Conditions of Engagement” are signed by both parties.
Particulars contained in this contract will include the purpose of the report, the scope and limits of the inspection, details of any special instructions, inspection date, report delivery date, the agreed fee and the agreed payment date.

How long does it take?

This will depend on the type of survey required. Many people hope to get a survey done within the 7-day “cooling-off” period which is obligatory in France when signing a preliminary contract (“compromis de vente”). If this is not feasible, you should ask your notaire to insert a “subject to survey” type clause in the contract. If the vendor does not agree to an appropriate “clause suspensive”, you should be very cautious about signing a “compromis de vente”.

On completion of our survey visit, a verbal report of any major defects and advice as whether to go-ahead with the acquisition or not is provided within 24 hours. The completed survey report will be sent by e-mail as a pdf file generally within 7 days and a hard copy will follow to your home address.

The dates of our visit and report delivery are fixed and guaranteed by our “Terms and Conditions of Engagement” and notified prior to any engagement.