Thursday, 28 February 2013 00:00

Renovation Case Study

Written by  Jon Boella

Every so often we hope to publish articles about real renovation projects. Included in these articles will be details of costs and problems encountered during a real project. The aim of these articles is to help people decide whether renovation is for them, to give real costs which can be applied to other projects and to highlight some of the pitfalls.

This first case study is a small house just south of Limoges which has been bought by myself Jon (owner/manager of Perigord Property) as an investment. The intention is to renovate the property to rent out on a long term basis. However once finished it would also make a cosy low cost home.

Buying the House

The house was bought in January. As you will see from the pictures quite a lot of work is required to get it ship shape again and habitable. Apparently, someone was living in it until quite recently which was quite a worrying thought seeing the state of it! Structurally the property is sound but needs a complete interior renovation.


The intention is to renovate the interior simply but to a good standard. The property will then be put on the long term unfurnished rental market. This has a bearing on types of finishes and choices off fixtures and fittings. It is often sadly the case that tenants don’t take the same care of a home that we would our own therefore it is important that the house is renovated with this in mind. Also as we don’t know what type of furniture the tenants are likely to bring with them so the design needs to be as flexible as possible for various combinations of furniture.

The property was advertised for 60K Euros with one of our partners but after a bit of negotiation a deal was struck for 50K – the notaries fees (legal fees) came in at 4300 – giving a total spend of 54 300. The offer was made for the property back in September and with the sale complete keys for the property were handed over in the first week of January this year.

The sale went through without any major hitches although there was concerned that the house wasn’t connected to the mains drains correctly despite assurannces by the owner. In this instant I asked the notaire to hold back a sum when we signed the final act until I could I could confirm the house was connected.

fosse septicIt was subsequently found that whist connected it wasn’t connect correctly and the toilet was still being directed into the old fosse septic (septic tank) with only an over flow being directed into the mains drains outside the house. This is no longer conforms to French standards. If a house has mains drains facilities provided by the commune then the house must be connected correctly. Not surprisingly the previous owner wasn't over the moon at having to help resolve the problem after he thought he had sold the house but as a retainer had been kept by the notaire then he was obliged to.

Eventually a agreement was reached between myself, the owner and the commune for a new mains drains connection to enable the toilets to be connected directly without going via the old fosse. The old owner got off scot free cost wise, the commune have offered to add an additional connection at cost to them and I‘ll have some minor connections to carry out inside the house.

Apart from this slightly annoying hiccup all went through fine but the lesson here is make sure you are 100% sure all is as it should be before signing any contracts. Ideally resolve these before signing the "compromis de vente". However its not too late until the main act has been signed. If unsure flag up the issue with the notaire.


The Renovation

I’ve set myself a budget of 20,000 Euros to complete all the work. As the property isn’t just around the corner to where I live and having my hands full with other projects (including this web site) I have decided to sub contract most the work. Although I will get involve hands on if I have the time or looks like the budget is running out!! Additionally as this is an investment project then the sooner the project is finished then the sooner it can generate a rental income.

The work is now well underway and started around one week after I had the keys. I do have the lucky advantage in that I do have a good base of contacts and artisans (crafts people) I can call on to help. Additionally I tried to line as many of the trades up before I actually took possession so that I wouldn’t have the project sitting empty for too long before work got underway.

Over the next few weeks I’ll add to this article with details of actual renovation costs ,time scales, problems (hopefully not too many on a project this size!!) so those of you budding renovators/builders can get a feel for what’s involved and see how costs compare in France to UK costs.


The project is now complete and tennant found.

Aim to provide further details of costs shortly. In the meantime have added some before and after photos to the gallery below!


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