Coastline Renovation Group
Last updated: September 3, 2021

A Diamond In The Rough - Our tips to help you in your French property search

Rachael Farmer
Written by: Rachael Farmer


At Coastline Renovation Group we are often asked to find that ‘diamond in the rough’ property, a property that after a full renovation turns into a real gem design wise and gives you a healthy return on investment now or in the future.

Why not take advantage of our knowledge, vast experience and our personal network of property experts to help find you a renovation project? Whether you are looking for a rental investment or for a new home on the French Riviera, feel free to contact us today for an informal chat. We can organise a personal property search for you, offer advice on which towns and areas to buy in, view any property on your behalf to assess its renovation potential, as well as quote for the necessary works.

If you are already actively looking to buy a property on the French Riviera for renovation, then here are our top 5 tips to keep in mind during your search

Have Patience But Be Ready To Go

In France many dated, rundown properties rarely make it to market, its normal for a property to remain within the family for many generations with family members just updating them for personal use when they inherit the property. It can take several months to find a property that stacks up financially, so be patient. Your estate agent or Coastline Renovation Group expert can offer advice as to if a property will be a great short- or long-term investment, after all, a second opinion never hurt anyone.

Another important factor to keep in mind is to be ready to move quickly on the purchase as you probably won’t be the only one chasing the renovation project and if other offers have been submitted it will come down to the buyer in the stronger position (cash buyer or mortgage approved) that is more likely to have their offer accepted.

Know Your Neighbourhood

So, you think you have found your perfect property, but have you researched the neighbourhood? Always Visit the property at different hours and on different days to get a better understanding of the area’s vibe. Many businesses along the French Riviera still close all day Monday and shut between 12am until 2am for lunch during the rest of the week, so what may seem like a sleepy neighbourhood on a Monday may just turn out to be the opposite in the week or at weekends.

Take a stroll around nearby streets and take note of bars, 24hr convenience shops or fast-food outlets that may draw an extra buzz close to your potential new home late at night.

Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

Timing Is Key

When renovating your French property, you will need to consider the timing of the project. In July and August some small towns have noise bans in place, so drilling and demolition works will be tricky to navigate and could see you have a site check by police who may stop the works altogether during these months altogether if they think noise will be an issue to neighbours.

Also, in July and August, many French people take holidays too so deliveries of materials and furnishings could take longer to arrive. As winter arrives, so do the shorter days and loss of light, so this is obviously another time factor to consider, especially if you are carrying out exterior works. Coastline Renovation Group will do a schedule of works for your project taking into consideration any national holidays or local laws that need to be upheld.

Build Your Own Dream Home

For the experienced homeowner in France, self-build is an excellent option with many Estate agents and notaries’ regularly advertising plots of land for sale. A plot of land that is sold with permission to build granted with it is the best option to choose, otherwise plans and drawings will need to be submitted to an official planning department. Building a new villa can be a great adventure with expert guidance from your local builders. You may be pleasantly surprised at the overall cost to build yourself as buying a new pre-built villa or established villa can come at a premium cost.

Coastline Renovation Group along with one of their architects will help you with all the necessary paperwork to obtain your building permit.

Vous parlez Anglais?

Falling in love with France is the easy part of your property journey but communicating and managing a project abroad with a language barrier can send stress levels rocketing.

When you are looking for a builder to renovate your home, make sure that you can fully understand each other, basic talk about your vision may initially run smoothly with the “pigeon English” speaking builder just saying ‘yes, yes, very good, no problem’, but when it comes to important or costly details, have they really understood you? Signing off your project of errors, can see the reply of your builder quickly turn to “sorry I no understand, this no my problem”.

Always look for a builder that speaks your mother tongue or your second strongest language, for example fluent English is commonly spoken in the South of France amongst true professionals. A very good business owner and project manager should be able to speak to you fluently and understand your needs as well as communicate between his core team to deliver excellent results. Good communication should also minimise the “blame game” between client and builder as well as get your project delivered on time, on budget and to a high standard.

Take the time to meet with builders and discuss at length your project and do not change the way you speak to try and make them understand you. Also make sure that your contractor can understand directions over the phone or by emails, this line of clear communication is often forgotten but plays a very vital part in your project.

If your prospective builder has fully understood everything you have discussed, then the flow of conversation will be easy and his enthusiasm for your project obvious to you therefore he shouldn’t have glazed over and should still be awake!


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