Hello, I own a house in the Landes area of Aquitaine. I bought it last year during the pandemic and have been trying to renovate it because the taxe foncière is quite high and I want to let it as soon as I can. The various lockdowns and so on have held things up considerably, but also the architect I hired, who I hoped would oversee the project, has moved at a glacial pace. It’s taken 18 months just to produce a plan of the interior. If things continue to happen at her rate of progress, I will only manage to let the house in 2040, and I’ll have had to sell it long before then to make ends meet! I was wondering if anyone knows of a Polish building company based in France who would be willing to carry out the work and who they can highly recommend. The house is empty so they could stay there, but it needs to be led by someone who knows the legal requirements in France and can obtain the proper certificates. Thank you.
Is there a reason why you are not considering a local French firm to do the work?
You will need significant involvement in the project and will need to be there - otherwise the end result will not be what you wanted.
Yes, because everyone local who has carried out any work so far has been eye-wateringly expensive and slow. Basically it’s now down to a choice between reselling, and renovating within the next 12 months—as the last 18 months have gone by with nothing to show but a plan. I do intend to be there but can’t live there for the present. However, there are such things as video calls…
Try asking locally for recommendations.
Having just completed a building project I can confirm it is expensive and slow. The pace of work is OK but often have to wait 3 months for them to start.
If I were to do it again I would be tempted to appoint individual trades rather than a single builder.
That was what I was recommended to do. In France, the concept of a “general builder” doesn’t really exist so if you want a single point of contact you have to find an appropriate project manager.
However, there are, as has been discussed elsewhere, very good reasons indeed why things are expensive here, so I’m afraid that is the price of having the kind of society we appreciate in France.
I have also been reading in the forums about several people having good experiences with various Polish building firms. So if anyone has any suggestions along those lines, it would be appreciated. Many thanks.
We used a main maçon, an individual artisan, and then appointed the individual trades which he agreed to coordinate for a small extra fee. It worked well.
Essentially to get good artisans you usually have to wait. If someone does not have their order book filled for a year ahead then there is possibly something wrong with their work. We had to wait nearly two years to get the roofer of our choice. But having driven round all the new rooves in the area his were the best.
You might be able to find non-french builders. But if they work legally in France and have all the right qualifications and insurances then they will be subject to the same charges and taxes, so will be a similar price. They must have decennial insurance, and if there is a possibility that you might want to sell the place in the near future then you will need the right paperwork to do so.
I can understand that you are frustrated with the situation, but there has been a pandemic! Did your architect give a reason for the delays? Generally here you do have to politely push and shove to keep people moving, and it sounds that the architect is not fully skilled in project management. We had one, as easier to get planning permission if plans signed off by an architect. But he was a drunk, and since it was a quite straightforward project I redid the plans myself, and got him to stamp them…
( also be aware that one of the few reasons for someone’s carte de séjour to be rescinded is to be caught employing illegal foreign labour. This is taken very seriously here, and just because many people have got away with it doesn’t mean everyone has!)
I suppose there’s no reason why a “foreign” building team shouldn’t have the necessary French qualifications/Insurance for a project… but that is certainly something to be very careful about.
We used decorators for some wallpapering, as we are rubbish at it. They happened to be a local Turkish firm - with all the necessary bit of paper. Their quote was only fractionally cheaper than a French owned firm.
Exactly… they had the correct bits of paper…
Sadly, so many folk forget to check that sort of thing… and later it can cause problems.
Hi, I’m not sure where you are in the Landes - we are too , near Dax. Dax has a large Portuguese community and I know that here and in the Pays Basque the quicker and cheaper option for building work is Portuguese or Spanish artisans.
I don’t have any personal recommendations but I do know a Portuguese builder in Dax if you are in this neck of the woods and can pass his details on?
There was a superb team of Portuguese workers in our commune, helping with the stonework etc… they carried on throughout a heatwave, while other workers wilted… and they were definitely craftsmen… the end product of their labours was a joy to see.
The work was done through Community of Communes so, obviously, everything was well documented.
Thanks! I would be grateful for the details. I am in Saint-Sever and my architect is in Dax.
Ok great I will get hold of them and message you.
I’ve heard comments that local certificated people are employing other EU labour as otherwise they’d have to quote more plus there is a huge shortage of building trades so far as I can tell.
I assume the person contracting for the job is using their own certifications and insurance to cover all otherwise this wouldn’t work.
I’ve sent you a PM!
Yes, and that’s fine as it’s the company insurance etc that you want to be sound. It’s then their responsibility to ensure people are properly trained for the work.
Maybe it’s living too long in London but “getting in Polish builders” was for a long time shorthand for getting in cheap labour under the radar. Many Poles did set up reputable building companies, but rogues remained common. Don’t know the situation now of course!
take nothing for granted. Ask to see the certificate, copy it keep it safe and if necessary contact the insurer to check its veracity. That applies no matter the nationality of the builders.
JJones, I know someone in the UK who did just that only a couple of years ago (somebody who voted for Brexit too ) and they got what they paid for, problems, problems and more problems!
Not always the case but you often get what you pay for
Going back to the OP, I have a few mates in the building trade and they’re all experiencing delays in getting materials that have gone up in price, almost doubled in some cases, and problems getting enough skilled labour too. It’s a very difficult time to get any work done at the moment, courage !
Timber is in very short supply at the moment, there are very long delays and the price has doubled.