There are many properties still available throughout France to buy for renovation to create a beautiful new home or a holiday cottage for those important family breaks. Brittany has always been one of the favourite regions for this with Brits and Channel Islanders.
When thinking of buying a property to renovate there are many questions that come to mind that it would be nice to get an expert answer to, particularly if the property you’re considering is in a different country. This article deals with one frequently asked question, “How do I find an Architect for my Renovation Project in Brittany?” and is in the form of an interview with the questions being asked by a prospective purchaser of property in Brittany.
Do I have to engage an architect for a renovation project in France?
You must use an architect if you wish to apply for a permis de construire (construction permit) and the total floor area of your project property is or will be over 170 sq/m when completed. For a demand prealable (permit for small works) you are not required to engage the services of an architect.
How do I find an architect that is appropriate for my project?
The Ordres des Architects will have a list of registered architects in your area of France and you can find this via their web site. Alternatively if you have engaged the services of a builder they maybe able to recommend an architect for you.
How do I check him out, when I can’t spend time in France looking at previous work he has done?
Your potential architect should be able to email you examples of his work and or put you in touch with past and current clients that you could talk to in order to establish their satisfaction level with his service.
How expensive are they?
Architects are trained designers and their fees are generally based on a percentage of the project cost. This is a tried and tested method that has been recommended by the architects professional body and has been adjusted over many years to reflect the return that a practicing architect requires to earn a reasonable living. Generally there are two fee scales, one for existing buildings and one for new work. because the first is more complex the percentage is usually at a higher rate than for new work. The fee will also reflect the complexity of the project and as every architectural project is very individual fees may vary to reflect this. However as a general guide for a domestic project the fee is likely to be around 12% for a loft conversion and 10% for a new house. The fee can be considerably reduced if you are willing to take on dealings with the builder and other sub contractors yourself.
Are there English-speaking architects?
There are English-speaking architects all over France many of which advertise in English magazines and on web sites aimed at the British community in France. Alternatively the Ordre des Architectes could help you find an English or English-speaking architect.
Is there an equivalent to RIBA in France and does it protect me?
In order for an architect to practice in France they must be registered with the Ordre des Architectes. They must also carry an up to date insurance which is required by the Ordres des Architectes in order to allow them to practice. You can ask to see a copy of an architects registration with the ODA or a copy of their insurance.
What happens if I am not happy with their work?
Your architect should act as a professional adviser to and agent for you throughout the design and building process if required. Any problems should be able to be resolved between the Oficina de Arquitectos Chile and the client throughout this process. However if you really are unhappy with your architect then you should be able to cut off his services at any time though you may have to pay him for work done up to that point unless he has been negligent or not fulfilled his services as outlined in any agreement with you.
Will they help us through planning consents and permissions and can they manage the project?
An architect can provide design advice, final design drawings, make the planning application, prepare specifications, contract documents, carry out project management and determine completion of the project. However the architect’s contribution to your project extends far beyond form and aesthetics, it can influence perception, performance and value. A sound working relationship between you and your architect will contribute significantly to the success of your project.
Do they recommend builders and contractors?
Architects will work closely with a number of builders and sub-contractors and should be able to put you in contact with these services in order to obtain estimates or the architect can obtain them on your behalf.