Information

Here are some points of interest to anybody contemplating a renovation or construction in France (you will also find a separate page detailing grants available for environmentally friendly work). Detailed knowledge of these – and many other – procedures is part of our expertise and is one of the many reasons why hiring a project manager so often saves you a lot of time, money and joie de vivre!

TVA

When renovating here in France it is worth noting that in some cases the TVA (VAT) will be charged at 19.6% and in others at 5.5% – a potential minefield. Eligibility must be confirmed and the trades informed of the correct route to follow. The savings can of course be enormous.

Devi

The devi or quote is very important and should be thought through carefully. Once completed, accepted and signed for, it is a binding contract for the work described within. It is very important to be both precise and detailed when making the initial specifications, as changing one’s mind later can be expensive.

Insurance

PMR Renovations ensures that everybody associated with the worksite is registered and correctly insured (French law states that if you use unregistered labour there is no available recourse in the event of any problems connected to the work; you are furthermore at risk of being taken to court).

Siret

You will note that our Siret number is shown at the head of the web page. This number proves that PMR Renovations is registered and meets all the legal requirements necessary to operate in France.

Happy Clients

We had been lucky enough to meet Paul some years earlier, and had the benefit of viewing a number his finely renovated houses, we were very impressed…
Kevin MacCready

We have no doubts as to Paul’s credibility, trustworthiness and abilities, and have no hesitation in thoroughly recommending him.
Drs John and Mary Tilley

Working with Paul has been an absolute pleasure. The artisans he chose for the build have all been professional and a delight to have on the small but difficult project.
michael-john-llewellyn-white

The outcome has been very pleasing: the job was done on time and within budget, and the quality of work was superb. The key relationship, with Paul Riley, has been excellent.
Peter & Barbara

Paul Riley is without doubt the reason our house purchase and renovation went so smoothly. He repaid that trust by completing a beautiful house on budget.
Stephan Chambers, Oxford

Grants

State incentives for environmentally favourable projects

Like its European Union partners, France is committed to the ambitious “20-20-20” target, a policy aiming to reduce carbon emissions and energy consumption by 20% and increase the share of renewable energies to 20% of total energy production by 2020. While this admittedly appears difficult to bring about (and France, with barely 7% in 2006, was second best only to Sweden), the state is anxious to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy power sources in the building sector have been introduced since 2009.

This is good news for house renovation projects, because tax credits and other incentives are becoming increasingly available. Although the sums involved are still relatively modest, they are definitely worth taking the time to obtain, and new projects permitting interest free loans for far larger sums are likely to be introduced in 2009.

Tax credits

For all equipment costs that meet government standards, a tax credit of 50% up to a ceiling of 16000€ is available. This may not be self-evident (I certainly did not find it so!), so let me explain further: For any “green” materials used in a building or renovation project (heat exchanger pumps, solar panels, efficient windows, doors or insulation with a high thermal resistance), 50% of the costs up to a maximum of 16000€ are reimbursed. For example, if I purchase a geothermic heating system costing 16000€, I can then obtain a tax credit of 50%, or 8000€ of that sum. Furthermore, if I only pay 2000€ in tax, this will be cancelled and the state will write me a check for 6000€. Again, if I purchase insulation materials for 5000€ and solar panels for 11000€, I will receive 50% of that sum, or 8000€. On the other hand, if the system cost 20000€, I will still only receive 8000€, because no tax credits above 16000€ are available – this incentive therefore clearly favours relatively small investments.These are subject to change.

Zero interest loans

As mentioned above, tax credits clearly play to the advantage of small scale projects, and bigger budgets fare relatively poorly (although an 8000€ check is always welcome). Rectifying this, and seeking to provide the large scale private projects that are just as necessary to kick start the renewable energy sector, the government intends to provide 0% interest loans (up to a so far unspecified ceiling). These loans will be conditional to comprehensive renovation/building packages: while tax credits on approved equipment were not dependent on other features in the house (for example, there is no legal objection to installing a heat pump in a leaky, draughty house), zero interest loans will demand sweeping, across the board standards. For bigger budgets, providing generously for high quality clean power sources, windows/doors and insulation, the zero interest loan is a highly attractive and powerful incentive (though loans and tax credits will not be cumulative).

Where we work?

The South West of France sometimes known as hidden France but served with excellent road, rail and airport connections. An area that offers the best of France, beaches, mountains, skiing, golf cities, shopping and the sun.

Comfort & environment

PMR Renovations enthusiastically supports the use of environmentally friendly power sources, design and materials.

la-meune-daffs

In order to respect tough European Union energy and climate standards, the French government is pushing ecological solutions with tax credits and (due in 2009) zero interest loans. By themselves, these incentives are doing much to make green technologies worthwhile, but when coupled with increasingly erratic fluctuations in the traditional energy markets (oil, natural gas, and electricity), environmentally friendly solutions are becoming ever more financially attractive.
Stone houses are renowned for the beauty of their traditional features, but can be notoriously damp and cold. By exploiting modern techniques to the full, we preserve the beauty while creating space, warmth, light and comfort. The simplest way to achieve this goal is to install efficient, durable heat pumps, coupled with under floor heating: with this system, heat is extracted from air, water or geothermal sources then pumped around the house. Although the use of radiators to distribute the heat is also a possibility, we have found – both in our own houses and clients’- that under floor heating generates a far more uniform and comfortable warmth. A further advantage is the possibility of reversing the flow and enjoying air conditioning during the hotter months. This and all other energy solutions discussed below are equally valid for renovations and new construction.

Lighting is another considerable issue. Historically expensive window taxes caused many residents to close up openings and resulted in dark, gloomy rooms. On the southern, western and eastern sides of houses, we recommend opening new windows and/or enlarging existing ones. The result is a lighter, airier living space (think of all those lovely sunrises and sunsets!), with considerably enhanced solar gains – we take the orientation into account and favour tall openings for their greater seasonal efficiency. Large window expanses require higher specifications of glass, but fortunately technology has progressed in leaps and bounds in recent years. Essentially, the key feature is that one can now have very high thermal insulation (keeping the heat in and thus saving on energy costs), without sacrificing sunlight and natural heating during the cooler months – or necessary shade in summer.

The most exposed part of the house is generally the attic space – useful for bedrooms and bathrooms – but which, depending on the season, is all too often unpleasantly hot or cold.  PMRrenovations introduced the concept of extremely thick roof insulation (300mm, comparable to passive house standards) in a new built house in the early 2000s, and we have since systematically applied this principle to all of our house renovations. Living comfort is greatly enhanced while heating and cooling bills are slashed. Wall insulation can be a greater issue in old buildings, because of the risk of losing the traditional features –sinks, cupboards and of course the stone itself. We like to compromise by installing high quality insulation on the weather walls (north and west in our area of France), thus keeping the house warm without affecting its character. Finally, installing green insulation materials, such as hemp, lambs wool, cork or cellulose lowers the carbon footprint even further and could well avert respiratory or other health issue.

A healthy mix of these technologies results in a beautifully traditional, yet modern and efficient home. Although we were previously intrigued by the prospect of building or renovating up to the full passive housing standards, we finally decided that the possibility of totally foregoing all heating installations just couldn’t compensate for the more enclosed lifestyle (no open windows, reduced apparent ventilation) that a passive house implies. Instead, we chose to exploit the advantages of environmentally friendly features to the full, but adapt them to the more outward looking lifestyle that France offers. Heat pumps and under floor heating, for example, allow to you keep your windows wide open throughout the day and absorb all the scents and sounds from the garden area (which we integrate into the house plans from the outset), without having to worry about warming the house up again at nightfall…

Project Managing

Renovating or building a house has never been so challenging, interesting, and rewarding. As a professional project manager, I am constantly amazed by just how much the sector has evolved in the past 20 years. When I moved to France from the Borders Region of Scotland in 1990, a house was hardly more intricate than four reasonably straight walls and a roof – more exotic designs seemed to be reserved for the super wealthy on the Mediterranean coast. Now, however, medium priced projects can be wonderfully original creations, combining beautiful stonework and character with modernity, essential warmth and comfort. Bringing out traditional character features (such as the lovely stone sinks – éviers, mangers, wall cupboards or beams) is as much a priority as integrating cost-effective renewable energy power sources, under-floor heating, extensive well-lit rooms with extra-large windows and doors, vastly improved wall and roof insulation and equipment to match. Thankfully, the traditional box shape is decidedly outdated – nowadays, we wish to live both in and around our houses, and building practices are tending to reflect this preference. Swimming pools, gardens, lawns or outdoor barbeque areas are no longer simply add-ons, their location and orientation is conceived from the outset, resulting in a far more pleasant, extensive and flowing living area.

Modern house renovation or construction is exciting because it is like taking an empty shell and pouring in ideas: every person is their own architect. I personally find it both essential and fascinating to be constantly on the lookout for new technologies, materials and designs for the client to choose from. Integrating passive heating and cooling principles into house projects – such as using roof angles to provide shade in summer and sunlight in the cooler months, special solar- control windows, solar chimneys (which evacuate hot air in summer) – will, I am convinced, develop into a major trend. A wealth of new materials matched by vastly increased enthusiasm among the tradesmen for innovative practises mean that the possibilities offered by a decent budget are virtually unlimited.

A note of caution however. There are many potential pitfalls. While many architects, tradesmen, suppliers and administrative staff often have more than just a sprinkling of English, it can be very difficult to explicitly convey precise information, ideas and instructions. This confusion can lead to horrendous (and expensive) messes, especially if the owner resides in the UK. No one is truly to blame but these can cause frustration, delay, upset and loss of money. Maintaining a dialogue between the trades and the owners is, I feel, perhaps the biggest single contribution a project manager can make to successful building or renovation work. (While employing British workers is an option, there is far less choice, with the result that, overall, French artisans are far more knowledgeable and boast a greater affinity and experience with the local materials).

Services

So how is a renovation organized?

Paul Riley is a professional renovator who works primarily in the South West of France. His process is ‘Keep it simple, stupid’. Planning is easy, but he doesn’t just plan, he listens to customers needs and delivers unquestionable results.

The first step

The first step is to meet each other! A house renovation or new build can be a lengthy process, so establishing understanding and trust is essential. We often find that clients start with a clear global idea of their project, but are less sure about specific details.

See our previous results

The best way round this issue is to take you to see as many of our completed projects as you wish; this will give you a good idea of all the potential opportunities a structure can offer and how they can be achieved.

Its good to talk through ideas

This consultation period will help us become fully aware of your requirements and preferences. We will then generate ideas for the renovation and the materials to be used -this includes budget requirements, design and type of swimming pool, as well as landscaping.

A price range

Next stage – if required once the ideas have been approached and discussed- is to prepare an initial estimation of the renovation costs (either before or after you have bought the house). This is based on prices obtained from previous projects and you will find it a very exact guidance.

Official plans can be drawn up

With the project now clearly defined, an architect –if required- will draw up the agreed plans. We will then secure any required building permits while preparing detailed estimates and work specifications. With your approval, we will then negotiate with, appoint and supervise licensed and insured local contractors for the building works.

Constant Communication

Once the work has started, PMRrenovations will monitor progress on a daily basis, making on-site decisions consistent with the overall specifications and using our own best professional judgement. Throughout, we will keep you regularly informed on the progress and refer any major decisions involving changes to previous agreements or existing specifications to your review and approval.

What is Our Process?

1. Collect Ideas

Our first meeting of course is crucial to both parties, I am there to present myself, listen to your ideas and dreams, view the property and present ideas and materials. Then it is for you to decide once I have left whether you feel confident to work alongside me.

2. Data Analysis

Yes, you wish to move forward, this is when I come back, measure, listen, propose methods, consider the flow of the house, heating, pool situation, in effect, all the thousand and one decisions required to bring a successful renovation to a happy and exciting conclusion.

3. Magic Touch

I find I gain ideas while I drive, walk and sleep, also when I look at all the photos which I have taken of your home. I then pull everthing together. After discussing with you I prepare the dossier/specifications for all the different (insured, registered) artisans/trades. The dossiers will be as exact as possible, down to the door ,handles paint colour, type of render or pointing, importantly also, which quarry the stone for any new openings will come from. France is rich in many local carriers/quarry which are still functioning. These dossiers are then sent out to chosen artisans who prepare their devis/quotes from the information given to them, this task also includes site visits and conversations until all parties are happy with what is expected of them.

4. Finalize Product

During this period, I will have meetings with an architect who will draw up the plans according to my/our ideas and submit for planning consent, this usually takes two months. After I have received, compared and studied the devis I prepare a report for yourselves. When you the client are happy we arrange the time plan schedule and start. From then on, it is work until your dreams become reality, flowers on the table and a bottle of champagne in the fridge!

Our Fees

Not all projects are the same…

Due to the nature of the projects, their complexity and individual characteristics, we are only able to give a general guide to our fees. In all cases we will give you a very precise estimate prior to commencing any work.

Building and material specifications – designing the renovation / construction, preparing trade specifications, visiting the site with the tradesmen to answer any questions concerning their costs estimates, checking quotes and presenting them to you with our recommendations (we only use licensed, qualified and insured personnel with a proven track record). Fees are based on our hourly rate (at present 50€ per hour) and basically depend on the size of the project and the number of visits to the site.

Project Management – regularly visiting the renovation / construction, monitoring progress, making on-site decisions and keeping you fully informed of all developments (see “our services” for a complete description). Fees are 12-13% of the total cost of the renovation before VAT.

Consulting – if you wish to employ PMR Renovations’ purely for advice, you will be charged on the same rate as for above; 50€ per hour.

Finally, if you wish to employ us to find a house suitable to your requirements, assist in securing the best price and also to arrange for the signing – or to sign on your behalf with the notary – we would charge between 2-4% of the total purchase price.

We always expect that, by employing us, you will save well in excess of our charges (we are happy to refer you to any of our previous clients to confirm this statement). This is because of the savings that we would procure for you in the choice of the tradesmen, the knowledge of where to find the materials required for your renovation and, perhaps above all, in ensuring that the work is finished on time, as planned and to budget.