Diagnostics as a starting point
At the time of the sale, as required by law, the lead, asbestos, termites, gas, electricity and energy reports are grouped together in a single report known as the Technical Diagnostic File (“dossier de Diagnostic Technique”). Although sellers (or their agent) should have that document available for inspection by prospective buyers, it is not always the case. And this report will give only a limited amount of information. But you should use it as a starting point.
Get an inspection done
Surveys are not usually undertaken in France, because the profession of surveyor does not exist as such. If you are concerned about certain aspects of the structure of the property you could contact one of the growing number of English-speaking surveyors working in France, or you could arrange to visit the property with a local builder to get opinions and costings. If you intend to do this, it is better to act before you agree a price and sign any contract – especially if you anticipate doing a lot of renovation. If you need a survey, but do not have time to carry it out before you sign a contract, you should ask the notaire to include a “clause suspensive” in the compromis de vente to ensure that your purchase is subject to a satisfactory survey.