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The Illusive French Property Renovation Form

I think most people would agree there’s not much more stressful than buying and renovating properties… apart from doing it in a language that you don’t speak. Even if your French is fantastic, there’s something undeniably stressful about the mountain of written paperwork that comes alongside renovating and completing home improvements - particularly for those unfamiliar with the French renovation jargon.

Locally to us in the French Alps, property renovation is incredibly common. There’s a huge array of properties here that have a lot of potential and a queue of people waiting to fix them up. . However, many of our clients report feeling mixed emotions towards it all, from excitement to nerves and feeling a little overwhelmed.

Chalet renovation
Chalet renovation


Well, the thought of going through the planning permission process, living in a building site and all the little hiccups you have to deal with are enough to shake even the most apt renovators!

Oh… And All The French Property Paperwork

As much as we’d like to say that yes, once you’ve gone through the rigmorol of planning permission, that the work is done! Unfortunately, that’s not the case. The amount of admin and paperwork to complete is dependent on the type of work being completed.

For example, in some instances, declaring the renovations to the tax office is necessary. Don’t worry, if the work revolves around aesthetics like painting the walls a different colour and installing a new fridge this won’t be of concern… However, if the m2 of the property is changing inside or out then a declaration is necessary. For example if the size of the bathrooms or the size of the kitchen is changing, the tax office will need to be informed.

But, Why Declare It If It’s Only Changes To The Inside?

The internal m2 is actually used to calculate taxe foncière. So, any changes to this must be declared through in typical French fashion- another form. Specifically, a cerfa form; an H1 for houses, and H2 for apartments.

If a house is being built from scratch, the same form is used to declare the amenities for them to calculate the tax - which streamlines the process a little!

Okay. So When Do You Have To Worry About This Form?

The form needs to be sent by post to the relevant tax office within 90 days of the work completion. Failure to declare within the 90 day time frame will result in the loss of temporary property tax exemptions, if eligible for them. As for a late declaration, it leads to a limitation of these same exemptions to the period remaining after 31 December of the following year… so, best not to miss it!

Don’t be fooled- this declaration to the tax office is actually independent of the permis de construire, and validated by the Mairie. If you just need to declare a renovation on an existing property instead of building from scratch, you can drop by your local Mairie so they can complete the correct “cadestral parcels” to help make sure there is no confusion at the tax office.

It will all be worth it in the end when you can settle into your new and improved home!


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