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Selling self-renovated French home: faults found on sale

Reader question, answered: we’re renovating a home. What comeback falls on us if we sell and a fault is found with work we did ourselves?

The buyer is unlikely to have a valid case over problems with superficial decoration but if there are more structural problems, you can be found responsible. One problem with DIY work is that most people do not take out dommages-ouvrage insurance. If serious problems appear within 10 years, the buyer may demand you pay to repair it.

Many insurers will not even provide this insurance to those doing work themselves so ideally avoid selling the property within 10 years. Also keep evidence of when the work was done (eg. bills for the materials).Only issues affecting solidity or fitness for living in are concerned. More minor faults sometimes fall under a less common rule of “intermediary damage” but the buyer would have to prove you were at fault.

Finally, there are vices cachés; hidden faults which existed at the time of sale but were not obvious and later render the home unsuitable to live in, or would have meant the buyer would not have bought it, or not at the same price. Most sales contracts exempt the seller from responsibility for these but you need to be in “good faith” and if they arise from work you did, courts deem that you should have known.

Property and tax: French taxe foncière is due this month, with some exemptions

Tel: 05 61 57 90 86

If you have a legal query send it to We select questions for answer every edition.

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