Buying a French home brings about a lot of excitement. It also brings means a lot of checking and researching. There’s a lot to consider, and the DPE [diagnostic de performance énergétique] is just the starting point when looking to buy your French dream home, and French floors are no exception. There are structural elements to consider, such as the roof. Are those beams safe and solid? Will they survive another 100 years? Is the fosse compliant? Are those electrics safe? And for many French homes, there’s a lot of wooden flooring that’s equally as old as the house and assessing the quality of the French floor is equally important.
“Quite often, flooring costs get overlooked,” says Artisan Central directory member and floor restoration expert Brad Quarless of ParfaitParquet. “When looking at the overall costs for your dream home, include flooring. Whether it’s for reparation or replacement“. To help understand what you should be looking for, Brad shares some helpful top tips during the house hunting stage or if you have just purchased your French home.
Brad’s top tips for assessing French floors:
1. If you are viewing a house with a carpet or rug, ask permission to lift the carpet or rug so you can see the floors underneath. Always check the corners of the room and under the windows. You are looking for rot within the timber and dampness within the wall gaps and between the floor and wall. Check that the floor is attached to the wall and there is no flex, i.e. the floor is not bouncing. If the property has a cellar and is accessible, check there too.
2. Strategically placed rugs can hide under floor issues. I can tell you that with confidence because of the number of times I’ve assessed French floors and was informed by a client, “when we bought the house and lifted the rugs, we found this!”
3. Look out for glued carpets or linoleum. The carpet or linoleum was likely to be laid using a hard-to-remove brittle self-levelling compound or glue. Do not be fooled. It is not easy to remove and is costly to remove, not to mention the time it would take. You may also find that the flooring underneath the glued carpet/linoleum is compromised. You must assess the room properly when viewing a property.
4. Staircases are a fundamental feature of a home. Staircases are expensive to replace and less costly to restore. Most old French staircases warrant a good clean. Restoration cleaning treads and risers often give you virtually a brand-new staircase if done right. Staircases can hold dark secrets, so it’s necessary to walk up and down the stairs and look under the staircase if there is access. Take a torch to check for woodworm. Check for damage to the treads and the bannister rails. Be thorough; this is the house you may be buying, so check everything.
5. Attic/roof spaces often harbour pine floors, the old pine that takes time to restore and is the most time-consuming to get right. Pine floors are my most rejected restoration projects. Not because I don’t wish to restore them, but because restoration is impossible. I work on simple logic; if it costs more to restore the floor than it will to replace it, then replace it, especially if the floor is rotten or heavily attacked by woodworm.
Brad, Parquet Parfait, has helped hundreds of would-be homeowners and homeowners in France understand some of the fundamental issues of old French floors. As beautiful as they are, they can also be costly if you do not take the time to assess the floor before making a purchase.
Brad Quarless, Parfait Parquet is a pre-checked member of the Artisan Central Directory, the home for English speaking pre-checked trades in France. For more information on Brad’s services please visit his profile