Is it still possible to make a living from buying and renovating property

I have bought a couple of ‘doer upper’ properties in the UK and with the help of various tradesmen have made a profit (however small) from each. I am not skilled in diy but am willing to do the donkey work.

Is it possible and likely that I would be able to do similar in France.

Purchase taxes and the cost of tradesmen and artisans appear to make it unlikely but I would welcome any input.

Many thanks

1 Like

We have just got a house once done up will be worth more that we paid for it by far but we do not plan to resell.

All does depend on how much of the work you can do yourself and hidden costs.

Worth it if you know what your doing and have friends to advice you who know what they are talking about.

Hi Harry. What were you able to do yourself?

flooring, tiles, put up new internal walls, plastering, put our own concrete floor down in an out building (not ready mix) about to embark on building a new cattery too, par inside part outside. also fitted a new water pipe, so much we have done. friends helped up to build a wall and are going to be helping us install some new doors and build some other internal walls. many other things we have done but list goes on

Buying in an area people want to live would be critical, which means, not the cheap places, out in the’bundoo’, you need to consider working people too, and those with kids, so schools, shopping etc available locally? Sure it’s ‘doable’ Paul, but I think the trick is buying the ‘right’ places, or you could be stuck with the proverbial elephant! And, to make a profit, you will have to do a lot yourself, employing artisans is not cheap!!!

It can be done in France and people do it but it is not as straightforward as in the U.K. and the main reason for that is the French market does not recognise doer uppers where a renovation necessarily adds value to the house. A house valued at €60,000 might be easier to sell if it’s wiring, plumbing, kitchen and bathroom are updated but it might not have gained in value. Add that to a market where houses take much longer to sell than in the U.K., the higher sale costs, capital gains etc. If you do the bulk of the work yourself you stand more of a chance but employing artisans will eat away at any potential profit.


I would echo David here, also don’t forget that sometimes artisans are booked up for several months. There are also lots of houses on the market already in rural areas, what will make the houses you renovate ‘stand out’ ?

Isn’t there also, if I remember correctly, the fact that if you sell a house that you haven’t had as your principal home then you pay more tax on the sale ?

I am not being negative, just trying to be realistic. In towns there may be more potential …

1 Like

Like you I’ve had a little success in uk…one where I did far more than I needed to and one where just painting throughout had a better result…Here I’d be really really cautious…The house I’m in now I bought to live in…It’s perfect for me and my dogs and my lifestyle and I’ve no intention of ever selling so it doesn’t matter to me whether it goes up or down in value…that said I do take an interest in my local area and watch every week to see what’s new to the market…what’s sat there since I’ve been here…whats been reduced etc during the coming up 2 years I’ve been here…There’s one just come up for sale that would be within budget…from the photos it looks like someone has converted the attic to 3 bedrooms and a bathroom and is installing a fitted kitchen downstairs along one wall…the photos include all the painting equipment and work tools and off cuts of laminate and plasterboard…The price is about €12,000 more than I paid for mine and unless it was an inheritance…after all the work done and the cost of materials…I can’t see how the seller will make any profit…??? Like others I’d say know the area…know the distances to local amenities…access to internet etc…I’m sure it’s probably doable but it’s definitely a whole different ballgame compared to uk…good luck…x :slight_smile:

1 Like

“sometimes artisans are booked up for several months”

I’d go so far as to say a long wait is a fair indication of quality :relaxed: anyone good is guaranteed to be booked up.

1 Like

Selling a major DIY renovation within 10 years of completion can be a can of worms because any major structural work should by law carry a 10 year guarantee. Artisans are obliged to provide such a guarantee, but as a DIY-er you will not find an insurance company that will cover your work. Since it is presumed that this insurance exists (it being the law), when you come to sell it you will have to declare the absence of decennale insurance, and most buyers will either use this to negotiate a price reduction or they will walk away. If you don’t declare it, it will be assumed that you’re guaranteeing the work personally and the buyer will be entitled to insist on any faults that develop within the 10 year period being rectified at your expense. You need to be aware of this.


I’d say yes, if you choose carefully and don’t go overboard paying other people to do the work.

Capital gains and social charges are high though - the latter having just gone up to 17.2%.

1 Like


Hi Paul…

Buying and selling is definitely NOT like in UK. As far as I am aware…you will NOT be able to deduct bills for work done to the property…from any Profit…in order to reduce Capital Gains Tax… and the Insurance side of things has already been mentioned.

To more or less quote a Notaire… “Nothing you have done increases the value of the property, you have merely made it habitable/very comfortable etc etc”.

In order not to fall foul of CGT etc…the property must not be seen as a Second Home. You need to live full-time in the property for at least a year… and (I think) get yourself into the French System…

On the other hand… if you open a business in the Renovation line of things (no idea what that entails… ) the costs may be set against the profit for assessing CGT… But, this route is something on which you would have to take advice before proceeding.

Oh, and the French are very hot on recognizing when someone buys and sells their “main” home too often…:upside_down_face::stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Does that not apply only to new builds?

Hi James… I do know of one chap who renovated, did the whole thing himself. It was his main home, with no intention to leave. Lovely man, hard worker.

Circumstances changed and he had to sell. Some months later, the Plumbing presented a problem…which the local Plumber could not solve… It turned out that the chap had used all UK fixings/pipes etc… and all the Plumbing had to be redone to French Specs… The New Owner sued and won. Bankrupted the Seller. This was about 4 years ago… things may have changed.

Wow, that’s heavily biased towards the purchaser. I wonder how long following the sale this would be deemed a realistic claim.

It was certainly less than a year… if he had used French stuff, it would probably have been shrugged-off… but the small leak (or whatever) led to the discovery that the Plumbing would all have to be ripped out and replaced… and that was expensive. :sob: (and still folk wonder why we advise them to always use French stuff :zipper_mouth_face: )


Looks like you would have two years to make a claim on any hidden defects, even if you or the vendor were unaware of them at the time of sale.

I confess to being surprised, at the time, that the situation did not come to light during the Sale.

When we sold a property, the Notaire asked to see the Invoices, to ensure that the work carried the appropriate “insurance”…

Fitting a property with anything which is incompatible with French stuff…thus making even normal repairs impossible… mmmm… whilst the 2-year “get-out clause” might appear to let the Seller off-the-hook … I reckon if the sums warranted it, the Purchaser would pursue the Seller through the courts.

1 Like

There must be a way to ensure this doesn’t happen, maybe a survey could be completed and agreed by both parties. This could potentially be ruinous to the vendor.

My interest is piqued as to how he managed this - mess up the plumbing so much it needed replacing.

My guess is use of 15mm copper tube which is not an available size in France but that should have been easy enough to work around.

Also 40mm PVC drain pipe is not the same thing either side of the channel