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We bought a farmhouse this summer and are now ready to renovate - basically add new bathrooms, remodel the kitchen and generally freshen up the place as it looks tired.

Would like your advice on how to go about it. Should we hire an architect to manage the project? We will not be on site, and it seems a sensible thing to do, but are worried about:

1) Higher costs (what is the incentive for the architect to help us think of simple solutions?)

2) Over-renovation resulting in the farmhouse fitting more in Suburbia than rural France

Any suggestions/advice would be much appreciated. Also, would value any recommendations of project managers,architects or artisans - we are in Aveyron, close to the intersection of department 12 and 82.

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You might find a Master of Works / Maitre d'Ouvres  willing to take it on. Based on very limited experience of French Architects they are even more interested in Grand Designs / New Build. than their UK equivalent. Friends house design came back annotated with stress calculations must be checked by a civil engineer.

Go and find something local that has been done as you want yours knock on the door say how much you like it and ask who did it ? - Is the best I can offer

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I'd endorse Anton's comments. What's more, I'd suggest that you wouldn't find an Architect willing to do a (basic) renovation nowadays - too many black holes for them to fall into nowadays.

IMHO, your best bet is to find (by recommendation and having checked references) a good builder and let them manage the project. Certainly cheaper than an Architect (or Maitre d'Oeuvres) and, assuming they are capable of working on their own, likely to be able to spot potential problems before they arrive.

Doing a renovation remotely is full of pitfalls. If there is any way you can be on site to oversee the project, you will find that this is the best solution.


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Anton and Nick have given very good replies and I agree with them.

Employing a good local builder IMHO is probably the best route to take, he should have the other necessary local contacts, plumbers, electricians etc.


If possible keep going over for short visits (stay at a local B&B) so that you can keep an eye on things. Let your builder know that you will be arriving and arrange a rendez-vous so that you can keep an eye on progress.


Bon courage

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Good luck!

I heartily endorse the suggestion of being frequently on site to observe and oversee any renovations.  Having purchased an old farmhouse some 4 years ago, we are still trying to get everything done, despite having a building trade background.

It is well nigh impossible to obtain your desired end result uness you are there frequently, as things crop up out of the blue and the builder etc needs an answer.  Two people can have a totally different vision of what is required even if they are extremely experienced and diligent.

We find that dealing with one aspect often opens up another problem which then has to be thought about andf hopefully solved.  Good French builders, plumbers, electricians etc.usually do excellent work, but there is usually a very long waiting list and the temptation to try to run more than one job at a time if the customer is not there for long periods! as of course happens in the UK.

Any work we have had done by registered carpenters, electricians has been excellent, but we had to wait a long time.  A replacement window ordered in May was finally fitted in October.

I wish you the best of luck, it is all great fun overall, and we have certainly learned a great deal.  We can recommend it.  Sitting outside with a glass of wine on a lovely long summer evening makes you forget all the toil and like childbirth you soon forget!


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