Asbestos and termite checks

Legally Required pre-purchase checks

The following aspects of a property are always checked as part of the purchase of a property in France. While all renovation projects in France are going to uncover some surprises (some welcome and some not) there are some problems that you do need to know about in advance. It is the responibility of the person selling the property to provide a report prepared by a certified specialist verifying the following items


This check applies to all properties with a ‘permis de construire’ (planning permission) dated before 1st July 1997. The most common places where asbestos is found is in insulation, especially near very hot surfaces (eg built in fireplaces), and various other roofing materials. Before panicking if you are told tht asbestos has been found you should be aware that:

– there is more than one type of asbestos

– asbestos is often found – corrugated type roofing often contained asbestos until quite recently, for example

– it is usually recommended that asbestos sheeting – a garage roof for example – is left undisturbed rather than removed. If it is in good condition there is no danger.

The asbestos survey will make specific recommendations for each incidence of asbestos that is found.


Applies to houses built before 1948 and in certain geographical areas. Your notaire will know if it applies to your property. The most common sources of lead are lead plumbing pipes and old paintwork.

The surveyor will often have a device that he can point at an old window and declare that there is a coat of lead paint underneath several coats of newer paint. As with asbestos, he will make recommendations. Typically the advice with old paint that is covered up will be to do nothing unless you – but if you ever set to with a heat gun, sander or chemical potion to strip the old windows, you might like to be aware that there is lead paint underneath and take advice at that time.


Anyone who finds termites at their property must report the find to the local maire. This is a legal requirement and enables the state to monitor affected areas.

‘Termites’ does not mean you have found an ant nest in the garden – termites are altogether different, they are big and destructive. They are the only wood-boring insect in a property that really should concern you a lot.

If you live in an affected area the survey will check for termites.

Surface area

The surace area of the property must be included in the sale agreement, and will be confirmed before purchase.


There will soon be a legal requirement (possibly in force by the time you read this) to verify the condition of all gas installations at the time of purchase of a property. The law and its requirements have not yet been finalised, but if there is a gas installation at your property you should consider getting it checked either before you buy the property or before you use the installation.

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