Are you renovating in France?

Now that Alfonz and I have finished the majority of our renovations on our home, I have to ask, how did you find renovating in France?

Any big mistakes while on the learning curve you want to share?

First, we plucked out a huge palm tree from the front lawn, and managed to find someone to take it and replant it to his or her garden free of charge.

Second, we had a crazy tree guy take an old shed away, completely assembled on top of his van, also free. Those two initial moves made way for our above ground pool. There was no need for a permit, easy to assemble and looks great!
Alfonz and his best friend put the pool together in under a week, and then they worked over a month on the landscape around it.

During that exterior renovations, we turned the summer kitchen into a rental with a bathroom, kitchenette and private entrance. We managed to find a contractor to do the things we would not dare. Plumbing and electrical here is a whole lot different than in Canada, and hiring someone was the smart choice and took the stress out of figuring on our own.

We turned an upstairs spare room into an en-suite bedroom for our B&B, giving us two small rentals from our home. Getting the permits in place was easier than imagined, and it was one trip to the Marie and one week later, we were clear to renovate.

We did the majority of our material shopping at BricoMan, they seemed to have the best prices, plus they are the only store open through lunch. When in a time crunch trying to make the rental season, it comes in handy.

For furnishings throughout our house, car boot sales are the best prices but with no time to weed through the junk to find the treasures, we decided to head towards Montpellier and do a one-stop IKEA shop. We picked items in their middle to high-end lines to ensure quality especially for the rentals. We also waited until the SOLDE sales began in France to buy big-ticket items at the best possible prices.

Do you have any tips to help new comers through the renovation process?

We got great bargains on second-hand furniture at depot ventes - but you often have to wade through a lot of junk to find it and be prepared for a lot of head shaking and hard bargaining. Walking away with a shrug seemed to get the price down quite often! As for materials, don't forget your local builders merchant. Can be cheaper than the chain stores and usually staffed by pros, not just shelf-stackers.

The good, the bad, the ugly. We went through it all. About 95% done with the residence, now we attack the rentals.In terms of furnishings and decorating, we got some fantastic deals at the auction. Not just antiques, but contemporary pieces as well.

I initially read 'Are you renovating France' and had a broad smile. The answer is look in the renovation and construction group top to bottom and you'll get a lot of ideas, tips and so on. Work is on hold here because of my damaged left flipper and no money for builders. There are different outlets for different things, some competitive, some just bluff and not worth the effort. Leboncoin is probably the common favourite website of all working on houses for reasons that become apparent once in there. The soldes sometimes, but don't bank on it, often a lot of rubbish to entice us in and then choose the real McCoy at higher prices... But bargains to be had if you have precious time to go scouting... There are probably both ten thousand and no answers all at once. It is almost a go by sense of smell thing as many of us might say.