From basic to luxurious, kit-built homes offer an option to create your own custom-built home in France for a very reasonable price, as Robin Gauldie discovers.
For many of us, our dream home in France is a pretty village house with lavender shutters and a small garden, a quiet old stone country house or, for the more ambitious, a spacious maître’s house in Normandy either Dordogne.
However, half-timbered houses have been part of France’s architectural heritage since medieval times, and today’s versions are part of a long tradition.
Starting from scratch by purchasing land in the area of your choice and building your own home can seem like a daunting task. But buying a kit-built house (house kit in Franglais or, more correctly, a maison à monter soi-même) can be a quick, easy and affordable out-of-the-box solution.
A navigation of property websites will appear. terrain to beat from just €10-20 per square meter, depending on location. As with buying a home, sales prices vary by region, and you’ll pay more for real estate near beaches, airports, and Mediterranean or Atlantic towns with amenities like shops and restaurants.
Other key considerations include infrastructure: if you choose building land some distance from the nearest town, connection to municipal water supply, sewage, mains electricity and gas may be an issue, and you will need to budget for those connections. , so get estimates from energy and water suppliers before closing the deal. Buying land that already has electricity and water will cost more initially, but can be cheaper and certainly easier in the long run.
The simplest solution may be to look for a plot in a subdivision It is zoned by the local council for new build homes, with services including electricity, water and sewage already installed, but your home will need to comply with local planning conditions, so consulting the local council should be your first step.
He local development plan (PLU) and the soles occupancy plan will confirm that any potential purchase is classified as open land and will define the size of the house that is allowed to be built on it.
The PLU sets out a series of design requirements for all new-build properties, from maximum height to façade design. If your chosen plot is near a listed historic building, those requirements can be quite strict in terms of materials to be used, shutter dimensions, and paint color, so your best bet is to find a plot away from classified historical areas. .
If your heart is set on land that happens to be classified as non-buildable, you may be able to apply for buildable status, especially if there are remains or foundations of previous buildings on the site.
You can learn more about the legal ins and outs at plu-en-ligne.com
How much does a kit-built house cost?
Elimination of bureaucracy, what can be achieved, how much does it cost and how long does it take? As a general rule, expect to pay around 1,000 euros per square meter of surface. Add around €250 per square meter to have your house built by professionals, a service offered by most building kit providers. As with any new home, you’ll need to budget for approved professionals to carry out plumbing and electrical work.
How long will it take? From pouring the concrete foundation (which takes at least a fortnight to cure) to finished work, it takes between 10 and 12 weeks, weather permitting, before you can move in.
Some builder kit suppliers offer a virtually turnkey service, from delivering the components of your new home to assembly, insulation, wiring and plumbing, and some also cater for kitchens and bathrooms. Most suppliers can also recommend construction companies, and you can also find specialist timber home builders through the Union des Industriels et Constructeurs Bois (UICB).
If you’re confident in your DIY skills, putting everything together yourself is an option. But even if you’re handy with tools and have plenty of willing helpers, at some point you’ll need the services of qualified local tradesmen, such as plumbers and electricians. DIY wiring is a big no-no in France. Therefore, it is necessary to include those costs in your budget.
On the bright side, wiring and plumbing a new home built from scratch will almost certainly cost less and be less complicated than rewiring and reinstalling an old brownstone for repairs.
One of the cheapest and simplest kit building offerings comes from Baticos, a specialist timber construction company based in Guewenheim, near Mulhouse. It is promoting flat A-frame homes that come partially pre-assembled and rely on long stakes rather than a concrete slab, speeding up construction so that Baticos says its homes can be finished in just two weeks.
Compact one-bedroom houses with around 40 square meters of floor space on two levels start at around 40,000 euros.
Lodge Homes Spain offers bespoke DIY log homes, delivered from its base in Spain to sites across France, with lodge-style homes starting from around €52,000. Company owner Al Hewitt points out some of the advantages of kit-built homes over conventional buildings.
“Due to the terrain in part of France, a home-supplied kit means a much faster delivery time and cheaper transport,” he says.
“Building on site with Tim requires a good level of DIY skills rather than a qualified builder. The wood we use is certified and comes from cold areas, which gives it a dense grain for better insulation. It is mainly supplied as a double wall, which provides a pleasant environment and cheaper running costs.”
Like Alan, Lars Mellblom, director of Tiro, is a fan of Scandinavian wood and extols the virtues of an expert kit-builder. Based in Normandy, Tiro has sold and delivered over 80 kit homes since 2004.
“The kit we supply is just the structure of the house,” explains Lar. “The interior is empty, and so is the foundation. they are not included. The price of the kit, including VAT, represents approximately a third of the total construction cost if you build it yourself.
“Such a house is easy to build, economical and quick to complete,” says Lars. “The wood comes from Swedish Lapland. It is very compact in growth, graded for mechanical strength and shaped with Scandinavian precision. The kit is delivered from Sweden by ship or road to the site, and transport and on-site technical assistance for self-builders is included in the price.”
Tiro’s basic kit includes lumber, wood-based boards, vapor barrier and mounting material for a house. Internal walls and fittings are optional, so buyers can decide how and where they want to place rooms, doors and windows.
Lars says DIY kit builders must be able to lift weights of up to 60kg (not necessarily alone) and have a good head for heights. As a rule of thumb, he advises, the total cost of completion can be about three times the price of the basic kit. He also warns that French banks will not grant loans to self-builders, as the 10-year construction guarantee normally required for new builds is not available for DIY properties.
That also means that if you want to sell your DIY home within 10 years of completion, you must provide the buyer with some form of compensation for construction faults.
If you’re looking for something sleeker, brighter and less rustic (perhaps more appropriate for a Mediterranean location than Dordogne or Normandy), Spanish company HAUS offers high-end prefabricated homes, built in its studio-factory in Valencia. then transported to your chosen location in France. In other words: plug and play, not nuts and bolts.
There’s no Norwegian wood involved here: architects and founding brothers Rubén and Sergio Navarro have developed a modular construction concept that makes extensive use of concrete, steel and glass, with designs pre-adapted to meet local building codes. The company boasts a turnkey, fixed-price offering that guarantees price and delivery time, with completion ready for delivery in five months. If you want to go full oligarch, you can order designer brand interiors and furniture and a custom-made prefab pool surrounded by a landscaped garden.
The catalog offers smaller homes as well as opulent mansions, based on what the Navarros describe as the “four axes” of “Mediterranean warmth, high-tech oriental minimalism, Italian elegance and Nordic purity.” These, however, are not houses for people on a tight budget: even for the little ones these are high six-figure prices.
A kit-built home may not be to everyone’s taste, but the advantages are plentiful, especially since a newly built kit home won’t become a bottomless money pit needing endless repairs and upgrades, like so many older French homes. . Building from scratch allows you to customize your home to your own needs.
Do your homework carefully, don’t skimp, and it doesn’t have to be a scary task.
Are you thinking about moving to France?
The unique combination of legal, financial and tax advice together with detailed location guides, inspiring real-life stories, the best properties on the market, entertaining regular pages and the latest real estate news and market reports make French real estate news magazine A must-have publication for anyone serious about purchasing and owning property in France.
Main photo credit: InHaus
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *