Cost of groundwork/Plumbing for self build

Hi there!

New on this forum so thank you for your patience!
I have a question for the more experienced people - me and my partner are starting our property search in France this year and we’re hesitating between buying a property that needs renovationw ork or buying a plot of land and building a wooden house ourselves.
The reason why I’m more inclined to buy an existing property is because I dont know how much the self build will actually end up costing. Can anyone give me an indication of the groundwork costs in France? The price for the “kit” and assembly are usually pretty clear but setting the foundation remains a bit of a mystery. Any help greatly appreciated!

Thank you!

Hi Andre… Welcome…

Thanks for amending your Registration.

I’m sure folk will chime in with useful info…


This is what we achieved with a wooden frame building.
It is extremely difficult to assess the ground works cost. In our case, there was an old ruin which needed to be removed and 30 odd years worth of overgrown ronce to get anywhere near the land clearance required to begin the building process.
It depends on the choices you make about how much ground works will cost. We poured thousands of euros into the ground to create a level slab on a sloping site but with the benefit of hindsight we possibly could have saved a great deal of that by not constructing a single storey building (bungalows take up more land space) and by using ‘I’ beams in the floor construction rather than a concrete ‘raft’.
The costs will mount up but I think you will will get a much better result by building a maison neuve than by renovating a ‘money pit’.
We bought the frame from an company in the UK who are well versed in French regulations and can provide their details if you wish.

Hi Graham!

Thank you very much for that, very helpful! Judging by what you say it would be wise to buy a plot that is completely level and just needs plumbing, electricity and a foundation in the exact size of the house. Would you say that if it’s JUST a matter of the concrete foundation that the costs would be significantly lower? And would you be able to tell me if we’re talking thousands of euros for the foundation for a house like you built or more TENS of thousands? (as you can see my level of knowledge is minimal :wink: )

Thanks again!

Oh and I would very much appreciate the details of the company you mentioned, thanks!

There is a reason why young french people prefer to build new houses than renovate old ones - the cost! In every area there will be local companies who project manage and/or build houses, like one of our local firms who build interesting modern eco-friendly houses rather than identikit square boxes, here:

The difficulty comes in finding land which you can get permission to build on. It’s more difficult to find a plot outside a lotissement, or without buying a plot with a derelict house and knocking it down. Also the costs of supplying services to a plot that is not already connected can be very high, so watch out for that.

I would suggest that once you’ve decided on an area you should look at the price of recently built houses that are now for sale - it will give you an indication of how much they cost to build! Then look around for building land for sale (terrain constructible or a batir) as buying land that is not zoned for housing and hoping you will get permission to build could mean years and years of negotiation. And then meet up with local house building firms to talk about costs of building the type of house you want on the sort of land you think might be available.

Personally I prefer old houses…unless I had enough money to build an interesting new build as I don’t want to live in a box. So cost to me would be the same!

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Hi Jane!

Thanks for that, is there a difference between "terrain a batir and “terrain viabilise”?


Is the terrain viabilise guaranteed to be hooked up to water/electricity etc?

Viabilisé “usually” means services will have been installed be at the edge of the plot. À batir proche des raccordements can mean anything! ‘Proche’ could mean in the access street or 500metres away! Also check what internet services are available…

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Our project was started over 5 years ago so regulations have changed in that time and different products have become available so it’s difficult to judge from afar. We used self levelling concrete and there is a short time frame frame before the product goes ‘off’ so it is necessary to have sufficient workers on site to work it - which adds to the cost of course. I don’t now remember how much exactly the concrete cost but it was towards the tens of thousands. But remembering of course that the slab was effectively 23m x 10m and the garage/hangar was not far off that as well. But the land we bought was over a hectare… so space was not a problem.

David Goldsbrough of Anglo French Timber
We found him to be very helpful.

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I think you’ll find the cost of a new build easier to predict than a renovation project. Good luck!

Hi Jan,

yeah I’m heading in that direction now. The only other thought I had was if we were to buy a property that would just need “cosmetic” renovations which we could mostly do ourselves, it would keep the cost at bay. I’m mostly scared of buying a very old building only to find out it’s a money pit but if it’s not too old and in a good state we wouldnt have to hire external crews to do the work.

They are indeed a money pit, but it probably works out about the same as a comparable house in the UK. I had to have my home renovated professionally , and altogether it cost about the same as I’d got for the UK home I sold. But the rub comes when you sell.
The French don’t move as often as we Brits do, and, more importantly, don’t regard a house as an investment. So, now that age compels me to find a smaller house and garden, I certainly won’t recoup what I shelled out. Philosophically, I have factored in what
it would have cost me to rent since I came here, to arrive at the asking price. It’s as broad as it’s long!

Bon courage.


My impression (happy to hear other views) is that this is because the French don’t see their house as a status symbol anything like as much as the Brits do, so there isn’t as much pressure to “climb the property ladder”.

Not being too showy with money is an inherent part of the French psyche - obviously there was a patch in their history when not appearing too wealthy or bourgeois was a life-and-death matter but there have been other influences. Wasn’t there a tax system which involved local inspectors deciding what you paid based on how affluent you appeared  to be (said to be the origin of wooden shutters on French windows and houses having few/small windows facing the street).

Hopefully things are settling down in the market after a period of volatility and prices are stabilising or heading back up - the French Notaires do a quarterly report on the state of the market which is reasonably informative on the subject.


That’s just about all French properties except brand new. They otherwise will come complete with 1950-1970s wall paper, really dangerous wiring and leaking roofs. The plumbing is usually ok though. :slightly_smiling_face:


apart from lead pipes…

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UK is guilty of that to, The water companies get a very flimsy way out of replacing the pipe as well. You run the water for a while then test, only then if the reading is high do you “qualify” for replacement. Shameful as how many times per day do you use the tap and how much water will be wasted running it for for a while before fill the kettle, brushing your teeth etc. Water is a very precious resource and the situation is only going to get worse.
Rant over :slightly_smiling_face:

No matter which country… lead pipes are a real hazard…

and we must not forget the lead content in the paint as well… the stuff which seems to still cover so many French homes…from top to bottom… but that should be mentioned on the Survey paperwork…

it is

I recall that so much lead was mentioned in the pages… that we could not figure it out… as the house had very little pipework…

Then the penny dropped… all the paint on woodwork, metalwork… everything blooming thing was covered in lead paint… arrrrrrgh