When it comes to renovating in France, if you’re not doing it yourself then you’ll need to source a builder or artisan.
Unlike in some countries French builders and artisans tend to be very regimented about what they can/will and can’t/won’t do in my experience. In the UK it’s not unusual to get someone to renovate a kitchen perhaps painting and tiling amongst other things. In France there’s much more of a tendency for an artisan to carry out only one aspect of a job so bear in mind you may need to find more than one builder for what you need done.
You may also find, especially if you live in a rural area, that the wait time for a builder is longer than you’re used to (especially if you come from the US or UK). Allow time to get someone in, don’t leave it until the last minute and risk not getting work done when you plan or need it.
Builders and artisans: Most people find a builder by referral or the internet, the local town hall can also supply recommendations. Also you can find cards at local builders merchants and on the information boards at local supermarkets in rural areas and small towns.
Check your builder is qualified at www.qualibat.com it’s important because the onus is on you, the hiring client, to check credentials. If you hire someone who isn’t registered you can be fined, and the work carried out isn’t guaranteed. All registered builders are issued with a SIRET number, which you can double check at the local Chambre de Metiers.
Check the builder has a ten year guarantee policy – this is normal in France and is intended to protect you from bad workmanship, non completion of work and materials problems.
Request a written estimate – a devis, a binding quote that you agree with the builder for the work and materials cost. If your request changes, the devis needs to be updated by the builder and approved by you.
If you are not living on site or close by, keep in touch via reports and photos from your builder.
Take account of possible breaks in the work schedule. Your builders and your local DIY store will likely take a two hour lunch break. Be aware that DIY stores may close and builders take time off in August, so if you have works planned in summer – make sure you order supplies in advance.
And never hire a cat to be your building inspector (top photo)!