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Egr rénovation

French Building and Renovation


  • Responsibility of perfect achievement: introduced by the 1978 law and running for a period of one year starting from handover of the works to the client.
  • Biennial responsibility for satisfactory functioning: introduced by the law of 1967 to cover minor works and lasting for a period of two years starting from handover of the works to the client
  • Decennial responsibility: as set out in articles 1792 and 2270 of the Napoleonic Code and lasting for a period of 10 years starting from the handover of works to the client. This covers two aspects, the solidity of construction and the fitness for purpose.
  • Third party responsibility under common law: starting from the moment the third party is damaged and (since 1985) lasting for a period of 10 years.
  • Client insurance (DO) is obligatory under law (loi 78.12 du 4 janvier 1978). Prior to the undertaking of any construction work it is essential that owners are fully aware of their liabilities regarding insurance cover if it is not taken out Contractors are insured for the specific work they are due to commence

TVA on Building Work

The amount of TVA (value added tax) payable on building work is 19.6 percent for all new build and are reduced rate of 5.5 percent for renovations. Generally creating new space, does not benefit from the reduced rate of 5.5 percent, renovating existing habitable space does.

Renovation work on an existing habitation has a reduced rate of TVA of 5.5 percent, it is only when you are restoring an existing habitation that you benefit from the reduced rate of TVA

Attention: you have to sign a reduced rate 5.5 percent TVA attestation when you sign a quotation (devis). This is a declaration by you that the reduced rate of TVA applies to your project, should it transpire that all your project does not qualify for the reduced rate of TVA then the attestation exempts the artisan from paying the additional TVA due and makes you liable. For a definitive answer on whether a project will benefit from the reduced rate of TVA, visit the local tax office (Hôtel des Impots) for confirmation.


The acceptance of a quotation is a private contract, a person arranging building work themselves should ensure before signing that it is written in the quotation that:

  1. All work must comply to the norms and DTUs
  2. The contractor has the correct insurance for the work about to be undertaken.

Note: A roofing contractor will be insured for roofing work as defined in their insurance policy. Alterations to roof trusses or rebuilding a chimneystack will not be covered by their insurance unless there is an express clause in his policy.


  • It is the contractor's responsibility to comply with the norms and DTUs for the work undertaken if that is the basis of the acceptance of the quotation
  • In general, only work that is in accordance with the Règles de l'art as stipulated in applicable regulations, that is, DTUs, the officially published standards or avis techniques, will be given insurance cover

The most common French building terms can be often found in the dictionary. However, even quite large French-English dictionaries - being aimed more at students of literature, can miss out even pretty mainstream terms. In order to help you here's a list (listed alphabetically in English) to get you started, whether you're renovating your own place or trying to communicate with a local builder.

English French Type
air vent trou d'aération or conduit d'aération nm
alarm bell sonnerie d’alarme nf
angle grinder meuleuse nf
arch voûte nf
architect architect nm
architrave baguette nf
asbestos amiante nm
awl poinçon nm
axe hache nf
bandsaw see "saw" below
base assise nf
batten latte nf
beam poutre nf
bearer support nm
belt sander ponceuse a bande nf
bevel biseau nm
bitumen bitume nm
blade lame nf
blow lamp chalumeau nm
boiler chaudière nf
bolt boulon nm
bore vriller vt
bore hole trou de sondage nm
bow/bay window oriel nf
brace vilebrequin nm
bracket tasseau nm
bradawl poinçon nm
brick brique nf
brush (paint) pinceau nm
building  bâtiment  nm
building site chantier nm
casement window fenêtre à battants nf
ceiling plafond nm
cement ciment nm
cesspool fosse d’aisance nf
chimney-sweep  ramoneur  nm
chipboard panneau de particules
clay roof tile tuile terre cuite nf
concrete béton nm
cork tile carreau de liège nm
countersink fraise nf
crack fissure nf
cupboard (built in) placard nm
custom made fait sur commande adj
cut out découper nm
damp humidité nf
damp proof course couche isolante nf
day-work travail à la journée nm
de-humidifier déshumidificateur nm
delay delai nm
delivery livraison nf
discount escompte nm
DIY  bricolage nm
door handle poignée de porte nf
door knob bouton de porte nm
dormer window lucarne nf
double glazing double vitrage nf
downpipe tuyau de descente nm
drain vidange nf
draught-excluder bourrelet nm
dry-rot carie sèche nf
duct conduit nm
eaves avant-toit nmpl
estimate devis nm
false ceiling faux plafond nf
fanlight imposte nf
fence  clôture nf
fencing wire mesh grillage  nm
fibre glass (insulation) laine de verre nf
fire extinguisher extincteur nm
fire-guard garde-feu nm
fire proof ininflammable adj
firewood bois de chauffage nm
first floor premier étage nm
fit out aménager vt
fix pose vt
fixed price prix fixe nm
flammable inflammable adj
flashing  un revêtement de zinc (nm) / noue nf
floor plancher nm
floorboard planche nf
flue conduit de cheminée nf
flush (toilet) chasse d’eau nf
foundations fouille nf
frame (door or window) chambranle nm
freeze up se prendre en glace vt
french window porte-fenêtre nf
frost stat thermostat a gel nm
fuel gauge jauge fuel nf
fuse fusible nm
fuse box coupe-circuit  nm
gable end pignon nm
general company entreprise générale
glass cutter diamant nm
glass door porte vitrée  nf
gloss (paint) brillant adj
ground floor rez de chaussée nm
gutter roof gouttière nf
hacksaw scie à métaux nf
hammer marteau nm
handle poignée nf
handrail main courante nf
handyman bricoleur nm
hard water eau dure nf
hardboard carton-cuire nm
hardcore (rubble) blocaille nf
hardware (building) quincaillerie nf
hardwood (red) bois exotique nm
headroom hauteur libre nf
hedge haie nf
hinge gond nm
hire location nf
hose-pipe tuyau d’arrosage nm
hot plate (hob) plaque chauffante nf
immersion heater cumulus électrique nm
(more commonly) ballon nm
in stock disponible adj
invoice facture nf
iron (material) fer nm
iron (cast) fonte nf
ironmongery quincaillerie nf
jig saw scie sauteuse nf
joinery menuiserie nf
joist solive nf
junction box (electrical) boite de dérivation nf
keyhole trou de serrure nm
ladder échelle nf
lag envelopper vt
lampholder douille nf
lampshade abat-jour nm
landing palier nm
latch loquet nm
lawn pelouse nf
lawn-mower tondeuse nf
leak fuite nm
lean-to appentis nm
lease bail nm
letter box boite aux lettres nf
level à niveau nm
level (tool) niveau nm
(not) level bancal adj
lever levier nm
light bulb ampoule nf
lighting éclairage  nm
lime chaux nf
linseed oil (bats!) huile de lin nf
lintel linteau nm
lock serrure nf
mains (sewers) tout a l’égout nm
mains (water) eau de la ville nf
maintenance l’entretien nm
manhole trou de visite nm
manhole cover plaque d'égout or regard 
masonry paint peinture crépi  nf
meter (elec or water etc) compteur nm
methylated spirit alcool a brûler nm
mildew moisissure nf
mortar mortier nm
mould moisi nm
mouse souris nf
mouse-trap tapette nf
mullion meneau nm
nail clou nm
non-slip antidérapant adj
notch entaille nf
off-peak (electric) heures creuses adj
overflow (an) tuyau d'écoulement nm
overflow (to) déborder  vi
overhang surplomb nm
padlock cadenas nm
partition wall cloison nf
party wall mur mitoyen nm
patio terrasse nf
paving dallage nm
paving stone pavé  nm
pelmet lambrequin nm
pickaxe pioche nf
pipe tuyau nm
pipeline canalisation nf
pipeline gas  canalisation de gaz or tuyau de gaz
pipeline oil  canalisation de fuel or tuyau de fuel
pipeline water  conduite d'eau
plan(s) plan nm
plane rabot nm
plank planche nf
plaster plâtre nm
plaster block carreau de plâtre nm
plasterboard placoplâtre nm
pliers pinces nfpl
plug (electric) fiche nf
plumb-line fil à plomb nm
plumbing plomberie nf
plywood contre-plaque nm
point (brickwork) jointoyer vt
porch porche nm
post (fence) poteau nm
preservative agent de conservation nm
price list tarif nm
prime (wood) apprêter  vt
project manager maitre d'oeuvre
prop support nm
putty mastic nm
quote fixer un prix vt
rafter chevron nm
rawlplug cheville nf
receipt reçu nm
recess recoin nm
reinforced concrete béton arme nm
removal déménagement  nm
render enduit nm
repair réparation  nf
residence demeure nf
restoration restauration nf
restore restaurer vt
ridge faîte  nm
rising damp infiltration nf
rockery jardin de rocaille nm
roof toit nm
roof truss armature à toit nf
roofing felt feutre a toit nm
room pièce nf
rope corde nf
rot pourriture nf
rough sketch ébauche nf
router défonceuse  nf
rubbish (building) détritus nm
rubble gravats nmpl
rust rouille nf
sand sable nm
sand paper papier de verre nm
sandblast sablager vt
sander ponceuse nf
saw scie nf
saw: bandsaw scie à ruban
saw: circular saw scie circulaire 
saw: fretsaw scie à chantourner/découper
saw: panel saw scie à guichet 
scaffold échafaudage nm
screed chape nf
screw vis nf
screw to visser vt
screwdriver tournevis nm
semi-detached jumelée adj
septic tank fosse septique nf
service hatch passe-plat nm
set-square équerre à dessin nf
sewage eaux d’égout nfpl
sewer égout nm
sharp tranchant adj
shelf étagère nf
shingle (roofing) bardeau nm
shore up étayer vt
short-circuit court-circuit nm
shovel pelle nf
shower tray bac de douche nm
shutter volet nm
shutter (slatted) persienne nf
sill (door) seuil nm
sink (kitchen) évier  nm
sink (bathroom) lavabo nm
skip benne nf
skirting board plinthe nf
slate ardoise nf
sliding door porte coulissante nf
soak away puits perdu nm
socket (mechanics) douille nf
socket (electric) prise nf
soil pipe tuyau d’égout nm
solder soudure nf
supplies, provision or stock réserves 
sound proof insonore adj
spiral staircase escalier spiral nm
spirit level niveau à bulle nm
split level jumeau duplex nm
spotlight projecteur nm
spray gun pistolet nm
spring (water) source nf
square meter mètre carré nm
stable (horse) écurie  nf
stainless steel inox nm
staple agrafe nf
steel acier nm
step ladder escabeau nm
stone pierre nf
stop cock robinet de fermeture nm
storey étage nm
subsidence affaissement nm
supplier fournisseur nm
swing door porte va et vient nf
switch(one way) interrupteur nm
switch(two way) interrupteur va et vient nm
tank (heating oil) réservoir de fioul nm
tank (water) citerne nf
tap robinet nm
tar goudron nm
tarpaulin bâche nf
tenon saw scie à tenon nf
temporary support (Accro) etais
thatch chaume nm
tile (floor) carreau nm
tile (wall) faïence  nf
tile (roof) tuile nf
time-switch minuterie nf
transom traverse nf
trellis-work treillage nm
trowel truelle nf
unblock dégager vt
under floor heating chauffage sous-sol nm
undercoat sous-couche nf
unfurnished non meublé adj
uninhabited inhabité adj
valve soupape nf/ robinet nm
valve: check valve  robinet non retour  nm
valve: ball valve boisseau sphérique nm
Veneer placage nm
wall mur nm
wall thickness épaisseur de la paroi
wall lamp applique nf
washer rondelle nf
waste disposal unit broyeur a ordures nm
water heater chauffe-eau nm
water main conduite principale nf
water softener adoucisseur d’eau nm
waterproof imperméable  adj
watertight étanche  adj
waterseal (silicone) hydrofuge nf
wedge coin nm
well puits nm
welding soudure  nf
wheelbarrow brouette nf
width largeur nf
window sill rebord nm
woodburning stove poêle nm
woodwork boiserie nf
workshop atelier nm
worm eaten vermoulu adj
wrought iron fer forgé nm

Further Information

Building in France

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