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Renovating from afar


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Hi everyone,

Just the usual rather tedious post I'm afraid about choosing builders. We are just about to start completely renovating our empty shell( region 85, near Chantonnay) which has been unoccupied for about 80 years! Earth floors, no electrics, no sanitation etc. etc. We have all the required permission and are ready to launch off but choosing good builders or avoiding bad ones is a really scary prospect and we are dragging our heels a little. However we must make the plunge so any advice would be warmly received.

Thanks.
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Just the obvious really and based on only one major job:

  1. Personal recommendation for tradesmen if possible

  2. Get 3 quotes for everything and judge by quality of response as much as price
  3. Try to see examples of their work - if it's masonry, windows etc. you can judge from outside
  4. Use registered companies
  5. Make sure they have insurance
  6. Don't expect everyone to respond with a quote or get back to you quickly
  7. Have a project management schedule to which everyone signs up at the outset

  8. Have regular project review meetings to check progress - weekly if possible

  9. If you haven't project managed before and you don't speak fluent French, you might want to think about getting your architect to project manage

The experienced developers here will be able to tell you more and correct any mistakes and omissions in the above.

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As usual Cassis gives good sound advice.

We have just had very extensive work done involving 7 different artisans in Challans (85), When we first thought about buying we went round with a local architecte  who produced a 2 page schedule of costs. The work has come in within 10% of that price which is amazing to me after other experiences.

We have been out a a couple of times when the work was in progress but despite experience as project director for major IT & business change programmes I could never have achieved what he has delivered for a very reasonable fee (about 5% of spend). The three measures of time, cost & quantity are all there.

There seems to be a great deal of building work around so the fact he arranged for them all to come and complete their tasks in the right order was great. I've read of difficulties people on this forum have had about workers, starting & finishing and doing a good job which really reinforced our decision to use this service

We communicated by email, used pdfs & digital photographs when not in France.

He also helped with completing any forms that were required.

We are off to stay there tomorrow!

Good luck

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Scuba,

We have just got back and there is one action that I had included in my plan that turned out to be bigger than I thought and that is snagging. When you are on site you can see all the little things that can be dealt with at the time. We made a list of all the points mostly minor 1 or 2 significant. our architect came round and got on the phone to all the people who we needed to complete the work, electrician, tiler, painter & plumber. All came round within the hour all very polite and sorted the snags or agreed future dates.

Thinking about your question, during, this process I did wonder if the guys would have come round so quickly and willingly if we had tried ourselves.

Good luck

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...

Hi there

I have been living in France for the last 12 years renovating properties.  I have loads of knowledge of the building trade, materials used etc.  If you need any advice or help with your project let me know.

 

 

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi

Last week we got an email to say our French builder was ready to start work on Monday - 2 weeks early. Got straight onto Brittany Ferries & booked the ferry for OH. When he arrived yesterday work had started & some of the internal work is now complete after 2 days. We now have to wait for the mantle stone to be cut, caught the stone mason on the hop. The job will be finished next week when the new mantle is delivered. After 3 British & 2 French builders who couldn't quite make it on time for one reason & the other this has restored the faith. OH (the most pedantic man alive) says "job's a good un". I'll pm anyone who is interested in a super reliable builder, with prices suited to the average purse, in South Vendee.

Mrs Postie

 

 

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  • 3 months later...
a bit late on this post but we done all our work from england came across three bad builders who ripped us off but finaly found a very good one who put all bad work done by others right and reduced the cost hence recouping some of our money it just shows there not all bad out there will recomend him to anyone interested top job
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