French property blog: How to convert a rustic barn into your dream home

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French property blog: How to convert a rustic barn into your dream home
Photo: Luc Coekaerts/Flickr

The 'Barn Conversion' has long been a favorite of the buyer seeking a rustic home in France on shoestring budget. But there are a few things you need to bear in mind, says Mary Hawkins from Leggett Immobilier estate agents.


There are things to know in advance when undertaking such a renovation – forewarned the process is fairly straightforward and the potential rewards are enormous.

A key factor to take in to consideration is the 'Change of Use' regulations – as you may be taking an agriculturally purposed building and creating a residential property.

This is the point at which the mayoral system in France comes into play.

Approaching the local Mairie will yield all the information and advice you will need. Firstly whether the ‘Change of Use’ is acceptable to the commune and the various planning and legal ramifications you will encounter.

A good working relationship with the Mairie is clearly advantageous, even if merely buying a house in France, let alone taking on a conversion – it can make all the difference to the smooth-running of your project.

It needs to be borne in mind that any renovation or conversion involving a building over 170 Square Metres will require the involvement of a registered architect.

Additionally, changing the external dimensions of the property (a small extension for example), fitting additional windows, altering the structure or facade etc. - will again necessitate the advice of the Mairie.

They will guide you through the “Declaration Prealable” paperwork – effectively planning permission in UK terms.

Providing all your plans are sympathetic to the local environment and nearby properties this should not prove to be an issue.

Be aware that conversions have a cost – whilst you will ultimately have your dream living space - a sensible budget plan is a must.

A realistic ‘Ball Park’ is to allow €1500.00 Per Sq, Metre.

This will act as a good guide with a reasonable contingency included. Inevitably some parts of the project will come in under the guide figure, whilst the unexpected can result in drifting over. Based on current costs the above figure should not be far wrong.

In conclusion – Plan, Budget and Communicate. Then settle back and enjoy your new country home.

Three properties worth renovating

1. Three barns in the Auvergne, €36,000

Describe the property: "The barns are situated at the edge of a small hamlet, the biggest one is approximately 14.5 x 9.5 and the smaller barn is approximately 7.80 x 12.20. There is planning permission for a 4 bedroom and a 2 bedroom house. The smallest barn is perfect for storage. Water is already connected in the big barn.

"Clermont Ferrand with international airport is 60 km away and the lovely village of Crocq with all amenities needed at 19 km."

CLICK HERE for more information

2. Stone wine barn in Hérault south western Franc, €56,000

Describe the property:  "In a lovely village with its own château, with beautiful countryside on the doorstep, this large barn of approx. 178m² could become residential, subject to planning permission. There are also possibilities for outside space.

Water and electricity connections are in place although not used at present.

CLICK HERE for more information

3. Barn in Dordogne south west France (€31,000)

Describe the property: "Large semi detached barn for renovation, set in a peaceful secluded area with garden and views to the countryside. In a beautiful, peaceful location this double height barn could be converted into a stunning home. The garden to the rear is flat and slopes down to the chemin with great views over farm and woodland.

CLICK HERE for more information




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