French Property News - - Expert Advice -

Most of my clients are English-speak­ing, but I have a smat­ter­ing of French ones too, and to­day I’m work­ing on Mon­sieur Ey­mard’s cot­tage near Berg­erac, draw­ing up a build­able ver­sion of the ex­ten­sion he has sketched out for me.

I’m proud that a French­man in France has cho­sen me, an English ar­chi­tect, to man­age a sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment for him. I’ve been work­ing here for 15 years so my French is pretty good, and I know my way round the French plan­ning sys­tem and build­ing in­dus­try, but I still never feel en­tirely com­fort­able with French clients. So much of what I do de­pends on hav­ing a de­tailed un­der­stand­ing of their hopes and needs, and this is un­der­pinned by a good un­der­stand­ing of their ex­pec­ta­tions. In terms of their sen­si­bil­ity (stop me if I’m sound­ing pompous) the two cul­tures are very far apart and, while I eas­ily pick up clues on taste and pri­or­i­ties for an Anglo-saxon cou­ple, for the French it’s more dif­fi­cult. It doesn’t mean I can’t do it, it just takes longer.

I’ve had a fair num­ber of UK clients come to me af­ter try­ing a French ar­chi­tect and hav­ing the same prob­lem but worse, that the ar­chi­tect just doesn’t get it, and I take com­fort from the fact that I’ve never had that hap­pen to me. Yet.

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