Rising renovation costs, €20,000 folding house: French property update

We also look at soaring prices in ski resorts, the tenant who was evicted for a radical bathroom makeover, and hear why the former PM is against banning energy inefficient homes from the rental market

We look at five updates affecting property owners in France
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The big property news of the week was the announcement that all homeowners in France will have to fill in a tax declaration, to be completed by summer 2023. The form is required if you have a main home or a second home in France, and whether your properties are currently being lived in or not. You can read more about why the measure has been introduced and exactly what is required here.

Steep rise in cost for carpentry and plumbing jobs

Quotes from tradespeople have become significantly more expensive in the past year as anyone who is renovating French property will likely attest.

Soaring materials costs, which were on average 25-29% more at the end of 2022 than the start, have been cited as the main reason by the Confédération de l’artisanat et des petites entreprises du bâtiment (Capeb).

Read more: French eco-renovation grants increase as price of materials rises

Delays on site caused by supply issues have also contributed to higher quotes.

A survey by Capeb of its 1,700 members found that 92% of firms have passed on all or part of the extra costs incurred with the biggest rise found in carpentry jobs.

Quotes for those went up 15% between the third quarter of 2021 and the same period in 2022.

Plumbing, heating and air conditioning installations also rose – 12% over the same 12 months.

Roofing work, meanwhile, is now likely to cost homeowners 10.6% more.

"For companies in the building trade, materials represent around 30% of current expenditure", a spokesperson for Capeb explained to Capital.

"Companies are forced to pass on this increase.”

Work which saw less significant price hikes included electrical jobs (5.5%), and painting and replacing windows (5.9%).

Read also: When can a French business charge you for a quote?

Read also: Paying upfront for removal company in France: is there way around it?

Folding house that can be assembled in less than an hour on sale from €20,000

The modular units have been hailed as a more affordable way to buy a house. Photo credit: Patrick Barrière / Little Giant Modular

Not all property is getting prohibitively expensive – a Toulouse company is offering new homes for just €20,000 - and they take under an hour to install.

Called folding houses (maisons pliables), the units are made in China and have been sold in France since the start of the year by a firm called Little Giant Modular.

The company’s director, Patrick Barrière, said that he sees them as a solution for people looking for a low-cost home, although you will still need to buy land and get planning permission to build on it.

He told BFM that business so far is “going very, very well”.

“I knew there was a housing crisis [but] I didn't think it was that bad.”

The houses could also be used by charities and other associations as emergency accommodation, or campsites looking to expand their accommodation offering.

Measuring 35m², the units are roughly equivalent to a one-bedroom apartment and can be placed on any type of land.

However, in coastal areas or in countries prone to storms, they must be fixed to the ground.

The walls are made of three layers – painted galvanised steel on the outside, painted aluminium inside and polystyrene boards in the middle. Customers will have to arrange their own insulation to meet building regulations.

If you are willing to pay a little more – €35,000 – you can upgrade from the bare shell to have a fitted kitchen with fridge, two induction hobs, a sink and microwave, plus a shower cubicle, washbasin, toilet and air conditioning.

The company also suggests the houses can be personalised by joining several together, paying for a glass façade, repainting the walls or rethinking how the units are configured.

As well as the folding houses, Little Giant Modular advertises homes and pools made from shipping containers.

Read more: Growing trend for shipping containers as trendy pools in France

It hopes to sell them in other countries, including the UK, if it can find distributors.

Property prices in ski resorts continue to climb

Neither the economic downturn nor lack of snow this winter seem to be affecting the price of property in ski resorts – they rose by 9.3% last year in the Southern Alps and by 8.2% in the Northern Alps.

Read more: Ski stations in France see some snow after major lack in mild January

According to a study of over 100 French ski resorts by Meilleurs Agents, the Pyrenees is also still buoyant, with increases of 5% in the same period.

By comparison, prices nationally went up just 4.6%.

Read more: Why French property prices are expected to fall 5-10% in 2023

Read more: French property market: what notaires and experts expect for 2023

In total, prices have risen by almost 30% over three years in the Northern Alps.

Val d'Isère is now well ahead of Courchevel with an average ‘hybrid’ price (mixing flat and chalet prices) of €13,569/m² against €10,977/m².

Megève rounds out the top three most expensive resorts in the Northern Alps, with average prices of €10,714/m².

In the Southern Alps, although prices are lower (€3,304/m² on average compared to €6,295/m² in the Northern Alps), it is there that the increase is strongest.

Read more: Energy efficiency rules could put French ski resorts at risk

“This phenomenon can be explained on the one hand by the attractiveness of property prices compared to those of the Northern Alps but also by the growing attractiveness of the entire PACA region since the health crisis, with a rise in property prices of 21.8% in three years,” said Alexandra Verlhiac, an economist at Meilleurs Agents.

The Pyrenees remain a more accessible mountain range for property buyers, with a hybrid price of €2,651/m².

Read also: Ski holidays in France: why British tourists shun the train

Former PM slams ban of energy inefficient homes as ‘madness’

Former prime minister Édouard Philippe has claimed the ban on renting out property that does not meet energy efficiency standards will hit the most vulnerable hardest.

From January 1, people who own properties with an energy efficiency rating (diagnostic de performance énergétique) of G+ – the lowest score possible – and which consume over 450kWH per square metre per year, are no longer able to rent them out.

Read more: Home energy efficiency: Key dates for property owners in France

This rule will extend to all G-rated properties from 2025, all F-rated properties from 2028 and all E-rated properties from 2034.

The measure was introduced as part of Emmanuel Macron’s Climate and Resilience Law, and is one of a number of new rules being gradually phased in to improve the energy efficiency of properties.

Read more: Rent prices in France frozen for least energy efficient properties

However, Mr Philippe, who served as Macron’s prime minister from May 2017 until July 2020, said the ban was "madness".

In an interview with Le Point, the politician, who is currently mayor of Le Havre and widely tipped to run for president in the next election, argued it would dry up the rental market.

"It may be born of the best intentions in the world, but it will reduce the number of homes available to people, and in general to the most vulnerable.

“It’s frightening, what’s coming,” he warned.

Housing minister Olivier Klein has been quick to respond to the accusations.

"What is madness is to let people live in [these] flats,” he said, and reiterated that only new leases or contract renewals are affected by the ban.

"It is obviously out of the question to put anyone on the street.”

Talking to Le Figaro, he added: "Changing windows and heating, or even insulation from the inside, is enough to get out of [the ban], which does not require the tenant to be rehoused.

By 2028, some 17% of homes may be excluded from the rental market if not renovated.

Tenant who turned toilet into a walk-in shower evicted

Most people know that doing work on a rental property without seeking the owner’s permission is a breach of contract, but for one tenant the temptation to upgrade her bathroom proved too much.

The woman, who has not been named, was evicted after swapping the toilet for a walk-in shower.

Read more: Airbnb found liable for illegal sublet of Paris home

It was installed on a 24cm-thick concrete base, later found to contravene building standards as the embedded pipes were not accessible in the event of a leak.

The landlord also expressed concern that the floor would not support the weight of the concrete.

The case, which was heard at the Paris Court of Appeal last year, was the subject of a recent legal blog before being picked up by mainstream French media this week.

They reported that as well as bypassing her landlord, co-owners in the same building were also unaware of the work.

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