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Finding builders/help with DIY

Finding builders/help with DIY

Old Jan 12th 2020, 10:45 pm
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Default Finding builders/help with DIY

Hi
We have a home in SW France in between Foix and St. Girons in the foothills of Pyrenees. We still live in UK but are spending more and more time there and hope to live there within the next few years if we can make this possible.
Our house needs some repair...new windows, bathroom to be extended, new heating of some sort and garden landscaping (on a steep incline so will need terracing).
Our problem is that the area we live is very agricultural and having spoken to our lovely neighbour, very few builders can be recommended as many of the young people are working away from the area in such professions!
Can anyone please advise us as to where to start i.e.where to find people to do the work. It is a bit too far from UK for any builders etc we know to travel but maybe you could recommend services/builders near out home in Ariege?
Thank you in advance.
Jane and David 👍
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Old Jan 13th 2020, 9:41 am
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Default Re: Finding builders/help with DIY

Pages jaunes? Local advertising?
Unfortunately, finding people who will come out and do things for you is one of the challenges of living rural. Once when I was looking for a decorator I approached a man sitting outside a house in a van that said on the side that he was a decorator. He came and gave me a quote although I didn't use him in the end.
Originally Posted by JaneMad54 View Post
It is a bit too far from UK for any builders etc we know to travel
This isn't really advisable for two reasons, even if it were feasible. Firstly because major work done by French artisans is required by law to carry a 10 year guarantee; a British artisan's work won't carry that guarantee and this could cause issues if you sell within 10 years. Secondly, even though Brits currently do have freedom to work in other EU countries they still have to comply with national labour law. France's labour inspectorate is more stringent than in many countries and EU workers aren't allowed to just nip over to France, do a job and go home again without first getting the correct paperwork and notifying the French authorities (DIRECCTE) in advance of the period they will be in France as a worker and the details of what they will be doing.
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Old Jan 13th 2020, 9:43 am
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Default Re: Finding builders/help with DIY

Hi
Welcome to the forum.

Have a search in pagesjaunes.fr for the different tradesmen you need.
Regarding UK builders, please be very careful. You need to apply for planning permission at the local mairie and all work must comply with French (not UK) standards.
French tradesmen need to be certificated; registered and insured. They should give you an estimate with their registration details.
Only French qualified tradesmen can sign off certain work and otherwise may invalidate your insurance.
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Old Jan 13th 2020, 10:12 am
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Default Re: Finding builders/help with DIY

If your neighbour cannot suggest any recommended handymen, gardeners etc, you could well have an uphill struggle to maintain your property as you'd like it.
This is one of the major problems of locating oneself in a department known for it's relatively isolated areas, which is of course exactly why the younger folk move away as soon as they are able to.
To address you dilemma:
i) Start by looking through the Yellow Pages for your area. YPages used to be delivered as a hard copy, but that's been discontinued and is now on-line.
ii) Look for a large diy store (such as Brico Depot) somewhere near you - I recall seeing one close to Pamiers. Bricomarche - although often smaller outlets may also be worth checking out. Whilst you're there, look on the notice boards, because in the Brico Depot near me, there are usually several artisans who advertise their trade. If there are none, ask at the advise desk, that's what they're there for.
iii) Put an ad/petite annonce on LeBonCoin, or look on the same site for a craftsman who is looking for casual work. If you've never navigated the LBCoin site before, in the 1st drop-down box select 'Offre d'emploi', and in the 2nd drop-down box type 'Jardinage' and select 'Jardinage dans Prestations de service'. Click Blue 'Rechercher' tab. (Just did the same for my Dpt and immediately got 9 hits).

I use LBCoin frequently, and here's another good tip for finding a tradesman for whatever task required by filtering the search function.
Select 'Offre d'emploi', and in the five catagories indicated just below, click on 'Fonction', then from the listings that appear move down to Ouvrier/Artisan and select that box. From the 3rd main heading above you will observe a box with 'Saisissez une ville et un rayon' (which is greyed out), there you should enter your department i.e. Foix or 09000. Slide the scale to a distance approx 50klm required from that location (the further you are able to travel the more hits you get), then click 'Valider les localisation'. Click Blue 'Rechercher' tab. In your case this gave 34 hits within a distance of 50klm from Foix. (See attached).



Regarding your plans on eventually moving to the area to live, I'm wondering if you've ever stayed there out of season. More than one person on this forum has eventually moved away from Ariege due to it's remoteness, especially depressing to some during the fairly long cold season. Related link HERE.

Another very worrying concern in many more remote areas is finding a GP, as over the last 15-20 years many areas of France have become medical deserts. When a doctor in these areas plans to retire, it has become almost impossible to find a replacement, as 99.9% of young certified doctors and medical staff all wish to live in more 'dynamic' locations. Macron's government is aware of this extreme problem and have plans to ease the situation, but the public and especially the aged doctors wanting to retire are not holding their breath. Interesting related links follow:
https://www.medgazette24.com/france-...edical-desert/
https://www.mediapart.fr/en/journal/...edical-deserts
https://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journ...17)30138-X.pdf

I wish you luck in finding local assistance for your property, and for the future. Please report back, especially if this has proved helpful.

PS. Whoops! I see that ET and Cyrian have pipped me to the post. They have indeed given very good advise. ALWAYS get at least 2 written estimates for any planned work, and never pay in advance.

Last edited by Tweedpipe; Jan 13th 2020 at 10:18 am.
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Old Jan 13th 2020, 10:49 am
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Default Re: Finding builders/help with DIY

Lots of advice now! good luck with your search, and lest this gets lost in and amongst,
Originally Posted by cyrian View Post
You need to apply for planning permission at the local mairie
- hopefully you knew this already. Most work that affects the external appearance of the property, such as replacing windows, needs to be notified and approved. Always best to tell your mairie what you intend to do and ask if you need to fill a form in/provide photos etc.
Sorry if I'm telling you how to suck eggs!
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Old Jan 13th 2020, 11:02 am
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+1 for all the above advice. Anything which changes the external appearance of a property requires prior permission from the Mairie. And, here I stand to be corrected, even if the OP's bathroom extension is contained within the original footprint, the work must be declared beforehand, as the value of the property, and therefore the Taxe Foncière, will increase....
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Old Jan 13th 2020, 11:33 am
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Default Re: Finding builders/help with DIY

Always use registered workers They should give you a written estimate called a devis which will contain their registration number -SIRET-and details of their obligatory insurance I know you live in a rural area but do try and use local workers where possible Not only will you get a good quote you will also show that you aready to support the local economy For your windows look in your area for a menuiserie They will supply and fit what you need and if there is a problem will come and sort it as opposed to phoning a call centre possibly in North Africa Also they can point you in the direction of other good reliable tradespeople especially if you are the type of client who looks after their workers and pay promptly This way they WILL look after you when that horrendous problem arrives at 7pm on a Friday night DO NOT be tempted to bring in UK workers French people will not be pleased and will not be willing to sort out the mess they have made eg wrong wiring system etc Also be wary of over friendly expat Brits who claim to be sparkys plumbers etc that you meet when out and about France is littered with expats who made that mistake and were fleeced rotten so please be on your toes
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Old Jan 13th 2020, 1:35 pm
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Default Re: Finding builders/help with DIY

Not so much about finding builders or diy, but on the tv news today there was an interesting report on how folks make out in isolated areas of France, especially with very few or no stores nearby. And very timely too, as the clip featured a Boucher-charcutier ambulant in...... Ariege, (Lorp Sentaraille), not far from St. Girons, and as mentioned in the clip some 50klms west of Foix.
Take note of the delightful local 'singing' accent in the clip below - especially the child's.


Last edited by Tweedpipe; Jan 13th 2020 at 1:46 pm.
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Old Jan 13th 2020, 8:53 pm
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Default Re: Finding builders/help with DIY

Thank you so, so much for your very detailed reply. We are extremely grateful and you have given us a lot to think about and I can’t wait to try LBCoin! Yes, we stay there out of season and have had the house since 2016. We only retired from teaching last year so hope to stay there for longer periods this year.
My only regret is not joining this forum sooner! Bye for now and ty again
Jane
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Old Jan 13th 2020, 9:02 pm
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Default Re: Finding builders/help with DIY

Oh my!
thank you for the clip...le boucher even stopped in our village!
Cheers
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Old Jan 13th 2020, 9:05 pm
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Default Re: Finding builders/help with DIY

Hello
thank you for your reply and advice. Yes, we both said we would prefer not to ask anyone UK based for the very reasons you give. A lot of food for thought, we will definitely act upon it.
thank you once again
Jane
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Old Jan 13th 2020, 10:58 pm
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I would go and ask at the local mairie for recommendations, or at least a list of local companies.
If you need a recommendation for a very good landscape architect and/or an architect, then pm me. Both are based outside Toulouse, are Brits that have lived in France for 20+years.
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Old Jan 14th 2020, 7:56 pm
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Default Re: Finding builders/help with DIY

Originally Posted by JaneMad54 View Post
Hi
We have a home in SW France in between Foix and St. Girons in the foothills of Pyrenees. We still live in UK but are spending more and more time there and hope to live there within the next few years if we can make this possible.
Our house needs some repair...new windows, bathroom to be extended, new heating of some sort and garden landscaping (on a steep incline so will need terracing).
Our problem is that the area we live is very agricultural and having spoken to our lovely neighbour, very few builders can be recommended as many of the young people are working away from the area in such professions!
Can anyone please advise us as to where to start i.e.where to find people to do the work. It is a bit too far from UK for any builders etc we know to travel but maybe you could recommend services/builders near out home in Ariege?
Thank you in advance.
Jane and David 👍
Plenty of builders in St Girons and Foix and beyond but get windows from a window company and building work done by builders it is easy to get confuddled by advice from plumbers appearing to be builders and snow men appearing to be coal miners in that region.

I know the region very well and I'm happy to advise.....

Last edited by Chatter Static; Jan 14th 2020 at 8:18 pm.
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