Building our own home

After giving up on trying to buy a reasonably priced renovation project, we've finally decided to buy some land and to design & build a house of our own from scratch.

We'll be doing the work ourselves because it's the only way we can fund it and although we've renovated and extended many properties, we're new to building from scratch here in France and so we'd appreciate advice from people who've done this, or from suppliers who can help us so we don't make stupid mistakes.

We need an architect because the house will be over the 170m2 limit so we're getting our plans put in .dwg format which can be sent to an architect to do the necessary for planning permission. We're getting quotes for architect fees and RT2012 studies - any advice or suggestions of people we can use would be most welcome.

Can anyone point to a really good site/info explaining what we have to do to get RT2012 compliance in the build? Have anyone got experience of complying to RT2012 we could talk to?

We're thinking of timber frame construction with a post and beam decking outside. We may use block for the ground floor with timber frame above. It all depends on cost. Does anyone know how the cost of block work compares with timber frame panels (material only because we'll be doing the labour).

Can anyone recommend a timber frame company for self-builders in France (we're in the Gers but have heard that we might get a better deal up north)? Found quite a resonably priced one in Latvia......!

That's all my questions for now. Lots more to come! Would appreciate any help or advice....



Thanks all for your advice. We will talk to our architect about the RT2012 compliance and termites!

There's so much to decide nowadays in terms of heating systems etc before we can apply for the permis and we have to get the permis in before the end of this year to comply with the clause on the land purchase compromis. I guess we can always change the plans later but then there's more cost.....

The key thing is to decide if our plan is even possible costwise before the architect spends too much time on it. We have some professional drawings and so we now need to get quotes from timber frame suppliers and also look at the block option as a back up.

Trawling the internet at the moment for timber frame and post and beam manufacturers.........

Something useful to note for anyone with cu timing issues - we were told by the mairie that we could not extend the cu that is in place on the land we're buying and should go straight for a permis (they said it's a edict given to all mairies but not sure if that's just in the gers) but a chat with our local dept d'urbanisme suggested that we could apply for a new cu even though the other is in place. We checked with the mairie and they confirmed we could do so that's what we did. You just have to ask the right question it seems! It's all about taxes apparently - they want to up the taxes so you need to get a new cu and not prolong the old one.

Timber is expensive here in France cheaper in block ,We built ours did everything ourselves .Would recommend everyone do it at least once in there lifetime

I wasn't being alarmist simply pointing out it is a consideration. There are various physical barriers that need to be incorporated at the time of building as well as ensuring that the timber is chemically protected. An architect should be aware and take this into account in the design.

Hi Kate

Where in the Gers are you? We too are considering a self-build, also in Gers. We've found a nice plot of land, and have been emailing a few architects to get an idea of potential fees (we too want over 170m2). A couple of sites I've seen have quoted around 120-140€ for the thermal efficiency report. Keep in touch - maybe we can help each other out, depending on where you are.

I'd be interested to know about that as we too are hoping to build our own house and have been considering timber frame. I'd been concerned about termites - but there are a couple of timber frame house companies near us (1 in Magnan, 1 was Nogaro, now Riscle), so it seems odd that they should be successful if termites are such a problem. How long does anti-termite treatment last for?

You might want to discuss with your architect the wisdom of timber framing as you are deep in termite country.

Here are some ideas:

The architect (or perhaps your friendly local builders merchants - hope you have one) should know all about the compliance but I suspect it will require you put insulation on the floor beneath any tiling etc., insulation in all the external walls or use insulation blocks and insulation on the ceilings to required depths and perhaps special material even beneath the roof tiles - common sense in a new build but often missing in older properties. You can save thousands building yourself but as we have done but unless you have your own transport, you still need materials to be transported and hire excavators. If you feel confident enough these can be self drive. An architect and electrician are essential but if you have built new before then no problem.

Hi Kate

We completed our build near Riberac, Dordogne in 1999.

The main building material used was Siporex (

Whilst this form of blockwork, which involves glued not mortared joints is more expensive

than traditional materials it is cheaper in the long run, not needing a second inside wall and cavity etc.

The outside is rendered and the inside is dry lined. We have been delighted with the end result of our

labours over the past 17 years since completetion especially the insulation qualities.

All the very best for your project