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Rising construction costs in France: Should you delay renovations?

The effects of the Ukraine war are hitting France’s construction industry. We look at what two experts say about the idea of putting off work for the moment

Renovation project

Building a house today in France is around 20% more expensive than it was last year Pic: Roman Zaiets / Shutterstock

Reader question: I was considering doing some renovations to my home in Normandy this spring, but it seems that prices are through the roof at the moment. Is there any expert advice on if I should go ahead with it?

The war in Ukraine is amplifying the effects on the cost of construction materials for renovation and new builds and also causing delays in builders getting certain supplies. 

The building sector had already been impacted by Covid, which caused several delays to projects due to health restrictions. 

It means building a house today in France is around 20% more expensive than it was last year, Franceinfo reported. 

Should you delay renovation or new-build projects?

One point that many industry experts agree on is that when there is a crisis that affects prices, they never normally return to lower levels once the issue passes. 

Jean-Pierre Liebaert, director of the research centre at the Belgian Confédération Construction, said that those who decided to wait when Covid came along are still waiting. 

“Some might have thought that after the pandemic the situation would level out, but then the war in Ukraine happened, which was not foreseen. We cannot predict what other unforeseen events will occur,” he told the newspaper L'Echo. 

Fabrizio Trobbiani, an architect at the Belgian firm ARQeh, said there are several other factors to consider when thinking about postponing work. 

“Many renovation projects require planning permission. You have to wait a long time to get this [sometimes], so it may be a bad idea to put off work [once you have started the process of applying for permission].”

He also said that putting off renovation to improve the energy efficiency of a home could end up being more costly in the long run. 

“Doing insulation work today means direct savings on your energy bills. If you wait one or more years, you will end up losing money on your [energy] consumption,” he said. 

Every situation is different, but delaying renovation work due to high costs of materials is not always a good plan financially. 

French building sector feeling effects of war in Ukraine

The war in Ukraine is having a knock-on effect on several sectors in France, including the building trade.

One main issue is steel. Italian producers are the number one suppliers to French construction companies, and they get their raw materials from Russia and Ukraine. 

Orders on Italian-made steel were stopped when Russia invaded Ukraine towards the end of February. They have now restarted but without a time frame on delivery and without set prices. 

The second largest steel producer for French construction companies is Turkey, which also gets its supplies from Ukraine. 

Another issue for the sector is energy costs, which are increasing rapidly in Europe.

It means that the production of materials such as aluminium, tiles, bricks, etc. is increasing as these are made under high temperatures. 

Wood is another resource affected by supply issues. 

France’s building federations are in talks with the government about managing the increasing costs.

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