Thanks to cheap flights, easily accessible and frequent rail and sea links and its close proximity to the UK, France is still a favourite destination for hundreds of thousands of Brits year on year - many of whom consider buying a second home there and more and more of whom are considering selling up and relocating there permanently. Are you one of these people?
If you are, and you would like to immerse yourself into the French way of life from the outset, why not consider getting in on the popular French trend of self-build and build your own French property to your exact specifications.
Self-build is not such a popular sport in the UK but it is ever popular in France and becoming more and more so among Brits relocating there according to statistics from Abbey National France which reveal a steady increase in British residents purchasing or building brand new investment property in France.
The advantages of buying or building a brand new house are fairly obvious - from being able to choose the type and style of property you want to specifying or changing layout, to selecting everything from door handle styles to the colour of the grouting between your bathroom tiles...anything is possible!
And then of course the ultimate bonus - if everything goes well with a brand new build, you can move straight in and no work needs completing - unlike if you purchase an older property which could require extensive renovation, rebuilding or heavy maintenance before it is comfortably habitable.
Depending on your capacity for dealing with the stresses of new builds and working in French there are three levels you can approach from.
Buying off plan. Here land has been purchased, development has been planned, show homes are sometimes available for viewing and there are usually fixed choices available to you in terms of flooring, kitchens and bathroom suites etc. It is sometimes possible to have limited input on room rearrangement if it is within the specification of the design and requires no major structural changes, but this is self-building for wimps!
Self-building for the slightly more adventurous comes in the form of purchasing land and then commissioning a builder to construct a house from a set design in his range on the land - alternatively there are building companies out there who will source the land and then build on it for you as well. Your input here will be on the land, the style of house within the range offered and then again on the internal finishings.
And finally, self-building for the bomb proof - find land and commission an architect to design your dream home, seek planning consent and find a builder man enough to handle your demands! Obviously this way you can truly build your dream, ultimate home with everything personalised to your exact specifications.
If you decide to take this path you can indulge your every whim - or every whim your budget will allow for anyway! And it can work out cheaper if you build it yourself in France - self-builders can save about 30% of the value of the house by building it themselves.
If you buy off plan, the cost can be cheaper than purchasing a brand new completed house or an older house of similar quality which has been newly refurbished. You often benefit from staged payments as well, where you pay a deposit on reservation and then percentages throughout the period of the build, retaining a final percentage until you sign off the build as completed to your specifications and actually move in.
If you do decide that self-build is the way to go, consider the investment and resale value of the property - believe it or not this is something that many DIY builders overlook. They concentrate on building their dream with no thought that one day they may want to move on.
Think about it - while you may like floor to ceiling clear glass in your bathroom others may prefer a little privacy...what you love may prove a distinct problem when it comes to re-selling your property, consider being practical and realistic and restrained - and then blow your budget on that thermostatically controlled wine cellar for all the bottles of French wine you’ll consume anyway!
About the Author
Rhiannon Williamson is a publisher with specialist knowledge covering literally every single aspect of moving & living abroad.
From offshore investment and offshore banking to international living and buying property abroad.
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