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  1. Or perhaps the thread title should be 'When is a house not a home (in the legal sense)?'

    Hello all,

    I was wondering... My Dad's cottage in France has a former dwelling house on the land that is no longer lived in and has somehow been downgraded for tax purposes. It is in a state of ruin and the zoning regulations forbid its restoration to be put back as a dwelling house. He is interested in repairing the building, on a mostly like-for-like basis, just to use as a sort of 'big shed' because the front of the house is quite attractive and he doesn't want to lose it to nature. Since he doesn't intend to live in it, and would not need a CU, would there be anything stopping him from repairing the building?

    And my real question is: at what point does a building become a home, legally? Is it when there is a bedroom or bed? Is it when it has a toilet? In this case, I think the former house is actually on a separate plot of land on the cadstral plan.

    Any ideas?

  2. Hello,

    I wonder if anyone would be able to help me identify what material was used to bond the stones in the photo I've linked to? We originally thought it was a weak sandy mortar, but we now wonder if it is a sort of clay mixture. I can pick it out and crush it between my fingers. I'm refering to the material at the top of the photo rather than the more 'recent' pointing lower down.

    This is from a place in Mayenne 53, and the walls are a few centuries old probably.

    Let me know if the link doesn't work...



  3. Thank you all for taking the time to reply to my post. :-)

    It does sound very much like what you say, a 'holding tank' or a 'fosse etanche'.

    I actually looked inside the tank fairly soon after my Dad bought the

    property, and the place was empty for a couple of years before that

    because the previous occupant had passed away, so the fact that the tank

    looked quite full would agree with the 'holding tank' theory. I had

    better have another look inside when I go there next time to see if it

    needs emptying!

    A builder has just made a site visit but didn't give any clues as to what system is there currently. His quote over the phone, before even visiting the site, was for 6,700EUR (if I remember correctly) for a 'traditional' septic tank. Plus I think it was either 250 or 350EUR for a report before doing the work, which he said is mandatory. That's probably for a 3000 litre tank as the property is very small.


  4. Hello all,

    I have a general question to ask on behalf of my Dad who has difficulty with forums/computers. He has bought a small cottage to renovate and has a copy of the fosse report (Controle de bon fonctionnement) which basically says that the installation doesn't comply. We don't know how old the cottage is but it's shown on the 1830 cadastre along with the neighbouring buildings. There is a functioning toilet there. At the back of the cottage, behind the bathroom, there is a slab which I lifted up and saw it was covering an opening to a tank full of white liquid. I guessed that this is the fosse septique but I'm not sure. A few metres away there is a VERY heavy rock that I mangaged to lever up a few inches and it appears to be some sort of round inspection hole that has been filled in.

    Now, here are three interesting quotes from the report...

    "la présence d'un prétraitement et d'un traitement n'est pas prouvée"

    "Commentaires généraux sur le prétraitement: Pas de fosse septique trouvé le jour du controle."

    "Commentaires généraux sur le traitement: Probablement un puisard."

    So I gather that the tester didn't find a fosse septique. So I wonder what that tank of white liquid was?

    My Dad is wondering what to do next. He doesn't want to pay for a full new installation if the current system can be upgraded. The estate agent told him that the fosse only needed a filter added, but I'm pretty sure that was a lie. My Dad is wondering whether to get someone else in to advise on it, or whether we should do some digging to see what's what. What he doesn't want is another vague report for 250EUR, or a builder persuading him to have a new installation if it's not required.

    The other complication is there is a communal well about 9 metres from the suspected 'puisard'. But he and the neighbour just use it for watering the garden.

    Thanks for reading. Any thoughts?

  5. Hello,

    Thanks for all the replies, which I have been reading as they come in. To clarify, I meant that the seller is asking for more money than I offered. His new asking price (for a private sale) is half of the original FAI price. For now I am writing back to him with a set of questions which I should have asked before making my offer. One question asks if there would be any money to pay to the agency if I were to buy the property at this time. I’ve also asked if there is a septic tank under the property because my Dad said that I could have to replace it within a year if there is one. The main ruined building was formerly a house and looks like it was lived in within the last 4 decades but I couldn’t see any sign of a septic tank or soil pipe; Just the old incoming water main. The old house is no longer habitable legally though.

  6. Hello all,

    This is my first post on the forum. First of all, sorry about the slightly ambiguous thread title. I have a question about buying land/ruins privately from somebody who had previously advertised through an estate agency.

    Here's the story. There were some old ruins advertised on an agent's website last November-ish. I made a very low offer through the agent via email. After a couple of weeks I chased up the agent for a response and was told that the seller had taken the property off the market. It was only on the market for a week! Fast forward to this month. I managed to obtain the contact details of the seller and wrote him a letter making an offer. He has written back to me asking for more money so we are into negotiations privately now.

    My question is whether there is any risk of the agents coming after me for their commission if I go on to buy the property? I haven't signed anything with the agent and it was a relative of mine who originally contacted the agent on my behalf (because my French is very poor). Also, the amount of money that the seller has asked for is quoted with 'net vendeur' after it. Could this also make me liable for any agency commission?


    I have a feeling this could be my first post of many on this forum!
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