|We offer a complete range of building services for property owners in the Vendee, covering all types of works and trades, whether renovation of the existing, or the creation of new rooms, or the conversion of attics and outbuildings. You have the fabulous advantage of dealing with one contact - IN ENGLISH - able to coordinate the whole project from start to finish.|
WORKS - choose your topic in this list:
Kitchens and bathrooms
Wood-burners and fireplaces
Rendering and pointing
Floor and wall tiling
Windows and doors
Design, plans and Planning Permission.
Having completed dozens of these, we can say that the most critical areas are establishing the right specification, techniques and materials and carefully designing the conversion to make the most of the available space. There a many fundamental decisions to be made that can benefit from an experienced eye - positioning of stairs, soundproofing the original boarded floors (commonly the only separation betwen the two levels), having adequate thermal insulation, to name but a few.
Back to top
Whether to create a main residence, or an annexe, or for holiday letting units, these larger projects need careful management. Vendee Building Services can propose a start-to-finish service, from the plans and planning permission, right through to the final details. If you are managing the project yourself, we can simply step in on the aspects that you wish, each job quoted and accomplished as a separate entity.
Back to top
To really get the best from your house in Vendee, a swimming pool is a real bonus. For those who intend letting the property to holiday-makers, the current letting market is dominated by properties with pool, to the point at which it is now becoming difficult to let a house without a swimming pool.
Installing a pool is one area where you really need sound advice, as sadly there are many rogue companies, offering poor design, unsuitable products and untidy workmanship. Vendee Building Services works with partner pool specialists that have a proven track record. We can take you to visit example pools to see for yourself. A pool is not just the water - we can propose a full range of associated elements to complete your dream (patios, stone walls and features, built-in barbecues, safety fencing, etc.).
Back to top
You should not under-estimate the benefits of installing central heating. For second homes it gives the peace of mind that it will come on automatically if temperatures fall near freezing and a little background heating works wonders in keeping the property aired and damp-free whilst unoccupied. It also ensures that you get the most out of the property, being able to use it at any time of the year in full comfort - yes, it does get cold in western France !
Until just recently, the most popular form of central heating was oil-fired, or gas-fired for town situations. There is no mains gas in rural areas and tanked gas is rapidly becoming too expensive. As fuel prices have risen a lot recently there is a tendancy towards considering more ecological solutions. These include geo-thermal systems and/or heat-pumps which extract heat from the surroundings and offer 3/4 of your heating for free. Surprisingly, wood-fired boilers are making a come-back, modern versions being highly efficient, producing little pollution and being cheap to run.
Whilst conventional radiator installations are often the usual system employed, we have seen an increase in under-floor heating and have installed this in several full renovation projects. In some cases it is still possible in a partial renovation situation or an 'almost-finished' house, using under-floor downstairs and radiators upstairs.
Back to top
Most older French properties have at least one fireplace, but many have undergone nasty 'renovations' over the years, being blocked off, painted, converted, brick-faced, etc. We have restored many fine stone fireplaces to their former glory and have our own favourite Mr Fix-it who can turn a feebly smoking hearth into a real source of heating for the whole house. If wood-burners are your choice we can offer top quality units in a variety of styles, and include any adaptation required and the necessary re-working of the chimney flue to comply with the installation regulations.
Back to top
You need to be aware that ALL properties in France will shortly have to comply with European regulations for waste/soil water treatment. In rural areas and small villages, the cost of mains drainage is prohibitive for the local council and therefore the solution of upgrading individual septic tanks will have to be adopted in many cases. It is unclear whether the costs of this will be born by the property owner, or whether finacial assistance will be available.
Any existing system installed prior to around 1990 will probably not be compliant. One finds two basic types; a) soil water disposal into a small septic tank, then on into a simple drain or soak-away, with waste water going directly into the drain or soak-away, b) a larger tank taking both soil and waste water and leading into a more elaborate drain system. The former will certainly need replacing completely, whilst the latter may in some cases be suitable with some modification.
Sometimes, the type of system is totally unknown, having laid undisturbed for 20 years or more and there are instances of surprising discoveries - waste water going into the storm-drain in the road, or even just a simple hole in the ground !
A new system needs consultation with local specialist authorities to determine the capacity required and the type of drainage in relation to the sub-soil. The finished work is inspected and approved by the local authority. Our experience will save you time and hassle and ensure that the finished system is fully compliant.
Back to top
With thousands of square metres of roofing under our belt, this is one of our specialities. Many roofs on older properties in Vendee covered with the traditional half-round terra-cotta tiles. Whilst these unboubtably give an "authentic" look, they require constant maintenance (getting onto the roof at least once a year to reposition slipped tiles). There are many modern solutions, including interlocking tiles that are virtually maintenance-free and can be obtained in multiple shades and with a dappled finish to blend in perfectly with character properties without looking too new.
Whilst it is often possible to re-tile onto the existing roof structure, this needs to be carefully assessed to determine whether rafters and boards need to be changed at the same time, avoiding "false-economy".
In cases where the existing insulation is inadequate it is possible to add further insulation at this stage, on the outside, without disturbing the interior of the property. The addition of some Velux windows can transform a house and are well worth considering.
Back to top
With many older properties the type and condition of the existing stone pointing or rendering is primordial in ensuring the long-term preservation of the building and controling damp. Sadly, many properties have been badly affected by previous 'renovations' using inappropriate materials - the classic case being cement rendering on a stone house, which simply locks damp in the walls and makes the damp problem far worse and can lead to damage to the structure of the walls.
One of our specialities is traditional lime rendering and stone pointing for older properties. This uses the same proven methods that existed at the time the house was built, so is entirely compatible with the structure and restors the humidity balance in the walls by allowing them to 'breathe'.
A complete renovation project should address this problem as a priority and we can easily point out to you the tell-tale signs that indicate that this type of work is necessary. Once the property has been returned to it's original condition, as well as the peace of mind of having a property free from mould, damp smells and peeling paint you have the possibility of taking full advantage of authentic lime paint finishes offering a really fabulous look for traditional interiors.
Back to top
and wall tiling
The sucess of a tiling job is only as good as the support underneath and in many instances a diagnosis is required to see if any specific preparation is required. For wall tiling in kitchens and bathrooms this may involve cladding with water-resistant plasterboard or re-rendering to achieve a flat solid support. Whist floor tiles can be laid over existing tiles in good condition, there are many instances where specific preparation is required to ensure a quality finish and a durable floor. This may be limited to a self-levelling screed, or may involve breaking up the existing floor. We can advise on the best methods most appropriate to the condition of the floor and propose solutions for incorporating under-floor heating at the same time if heavy work is to be envisaged. In complete renovations and conversions we can propose a unique anti-damp system with a ventilated sub-base that has proved to be superior to conventional damp-proof membranes.
We specialise in authentic terra-cotta tile floors and can offer a superb range of locally made tiles in a wide variety of shades and styles, including stunning replicas of time-worn "tomettes". Prices are far below that which you find at the specialist companies in the UK, making tham readily affordable.
Back to top
A subject which often raises heated debate. Whilst the UK system has undeniable merits, a modern French installation also has its own advantages and most technicians who understand both will tell you that it's poor reputation is totally unfounded. Whatever your position on this, it must be said that only approved French methods and fittings should be used in France (no, don't even think of bringing over 'twin and earth' cable and 13Amp sockets). Not only will a UK-style installation reduce the resale value of the property, but in the case of a fire or accident your insurance may not cover you.
One finds that most properties have installations which have had many improvements and additions over the years and the diagnosis of the real condition is often difficult. It is necessary to go back to the weakest links to find the limitations - often finding an indadequate fuse box, dubious earthing or under-sized cables, all of which are potentially a hazard. We can offer a diagnosis of the existing installation and can advise on what essential works there may be. The costs involved in replacing the electrical installation in an older property can vary by up to 100%, depending on whether the existing basic arrangement is replicated and brought up to latest standards or whether a full installation is envisaged, including all the facilities required in a new house. You need guidance on this aspect to make sure that the result will meet your needs.
Back to top
Another subject which seems to have a bad reputation in France. There are vast differences in the techniques used here, compared to the UK, but a well designed French system is far simpler that in the UK, is totally trouble-free and works very well. The absence of header tanks and having proper regulated water pressure on both hot and cold is really an advantage. Once again, avoid trying to mix French and English materials, as the pipe sizes are not the same, the adaptation necessary is time-consuming and rarely satisfactory and spare parts are impossible to find.
There are two main systems of plumbing in France:
a) The traditional copper system, typically using pipes from 10mm up to 18mm (ie smaller than the UK due to higher water pressure). This is normally brazed using cupro-nickel alloy instead of soft soldering, making it much stronger and more resistent to vibration and frost. Any buried or hidden pipework is in continuous lengths of anealed (soft) copper, laid in plastic sheathing, avoiding potential leaks in inacessible places. The life of such a system is reckoned to be at least 50 years.
b) Recently the plastic system has become more common and is generally used in any major re-work, leaving copper for any visible pipe runs and connections to some appliances. The pipes are in Reticulated Polyethylene and reinforced by a hefty plastic conduit making them very resistant. Despite being relatively expensive, the overall job costs no more as the simplicity of installation reduces the labour costs. The life of these systems is generally thought to be superior to copper pipe.
Back to top
Whatever your requirements, we can find a solution, whether it be an additional window or door opening, breaking through an interior wall, changing a roof line, creating a stair well, creating a first floor level or mezzanine, or adding a complete extension.
For stone properties we can propose new openings in either dressed stone or with brick jambs to match whatever existing style you have.
Back to top
plans and Planning Permission
Vendee Building Services. Nicholas Hall, La Petite Chauvetterie, 85400 St Gemme La Plaine, France.
Web design: Accord Services, Vendee.
Services in Vendee. Builder in Vendee. English tradesmen in Vendee. English
speaking artisans in Vendee. English speaking builder in Vendee. English
electricien in Vendee. English plumber in Vendee. heating engineer in Vendee.
Pool supplier in Vendee. Pool builder in Vendee. English speaking surveyor
in Vendee. English speaking architect in vendee.
All building trades: Building, renovation, extensions, concersions, roofing, rendering and pointing, floor and wall tiling, septic tanks, swimming pools, central heating, electrrical installation, plumbing, kitchen fitting, bathroom installation, wood-burners, fireplace renovation, timber treatment, damp treatment, structural alterations, plans and planning permission.