French property diagnostic surveys

Property Diagnostic Surveys in France
Electrical installations
Gas installations
Natural and technological risks
Energy performance certificate
Floor area – Loi Carrez
How to check if a Diagnostiquer Immobilier is certified

Property Diagnostic Surveys in France

When you sell a property in France you are obliged by law to provide the potential buyer with certain information regarding your property’s condition, exposing any defects and thus absolving the vendor of any related liability. The resulting property diagnostic surveys are included in any sale agreement drawn up regarding the property with the purpose of informing the potential buyer of any hidden defects, potential health risks and the property’s environmental impact.

The reports, or surveys, are collectively known as a Dossier de Diagnostic Technique which from the 1st of November 2007 must be commissioned from a qualified (i.e. in possession of all the necessary qualifications and guarantees) Diagnostiquer Immobilier. The Diagnostiquer Immobilier is required by law to be completely impartial, having no connection with either vendor or buyer and is not allowed to either carry out any remedial work themselves or be connected to any company that does.

Depending on the type of property, its age, location, presence of electricity and gas installations, and type of contract (sale or lease), there can be up to 8 property diagnostic surveys carried out.

  • Asbestos
  • Lead
  • Termites
  • Electrical installation
  • Gas installation
  • Natural and technological risks
  • Energy performance
  • Floor area


Asbestos has been used in the past for its excellent insulation properties and fire resistance. Since 1997 its use has been forbidden due to inherent health risks, so all properties built before 1st July 1997 are required by law to have an Asbestos survey carried out. The most common places asbestos is likely to be found is ceiling and roof insulation/lagging, cladding, pipe work, window sills, ventilation ducts, agricultural roofing etc. The survey will determine if asbestos is present in a property and its condition. The latter is important as any asbestos found in a stable condition can remain so long as it is not disturbed; a new survey will have to be carried out if the property is sold again within 3 years. If however the survey finds asbestos in a degraded condition the owner will be required to have it professionally removed, or contained, in less than 36 months. A negative survey is valid indefinitely.

What is asbestos

asbestos 4    asbestos 1    asbestos 2    asbestos 3


Asbestos is a naturally occurring silicate mineral for which there are 6 commercial versions – Actinolite, Amosite, Anthrophylite, Chrysotile, Crocidilite and Tremolite. The three most popular are Amosite, Chrysotile and Crocidilite. They are all known carcinogens. Chrysotile is probably the most widely used and is often known as white asbestos. A member of the Serpentine group, because of its curly nature, it can be spun and woven like cotton and was incorporated into many building materials to reinforce, resist against alkaline attack and withstand fierce heat.

It is important to make a distinction between the two categories of bonded and un-bonded asbestos. The bonded asbestos is more dense and stable whereas the un-bonded asbestos tends to be more loosely set in the material composition and is therefore more likely to be released when disturbed or removed. In all cases, removal should be carried out by an expert.


The lead survey is known as CREP (Constat de Risque d’Exposition au Plomb – Attestation of Risk Exposure to Lead). The use of lead in building work in France has been forbidden since 1949 and consequently a lead survey is mandatory for all property built before 1st January 1949. The validity of a positive lead survey is 1 year, for a negative (i.e. no lead present) it is indefinite but it must be in the property owner’s name. Lead is most commonly found in old paint work but can also be present in pipe work. Depending on the stability of any lead found, home owners may be liable to eliminate any risk of exposure prior to a sale agreement. Intoxication, known as lead poisoning, is most dangerous to children and pregnant women.


A termite survey is carried out to identify the presence of termites in and around (within 10 metres) a property, and is regulated by Law No. 99-471, 8th June 1999. Whether you are obliged to carry out this survey will depend on the area/department the property is located in, and is governed by prefectural decree. Some areas are more at risk than others and predominantly the Mediterranean coast, southwest France and Atlantic coastal are more vulnerable; for more information go to – Observatoire National Termite. A termite survey is valid for 6 months.

What is a termite

termite 1    termite 2    termite 3    termite 4


A termite is an insect that feeds on wood, destroying structural timbers, wood frames and flooring etc. Like bees and ants, termites live in colonies. Because of their potential numbers they are able to inflict substantial damage to a property, gnawing into wood, sometimes leaving the outer skin intact, and consuming over 1000cm³ in around 3 months. They can often be undetected for years before any obvious sign of their presence is found. It is therefore imperative they are diagnosed as soon as possible so disinfection work can be carried out. If termite infestation is detected it must be dealt with before a sale contract is finalised.

Electrical installations

An electrical survey is compulsory if a property is more than 15 years old and is valid for a period of 3 years. The aim of the survey is to identify any areas of risk that may affect the security of the occupants. Amongst others, fuses, switches, circuit breakers, earth bonding and any fixed electrical installations are inspected. The distance between electrical outlets and switches and water outlet points (hand basins, baths, showers etc) is measured. If anomalies are detected it is strongly recommended that they are immediately rectified by a qualified electrician. The three most prevalent faults are, an absence of earth bonding, lack of a 30mA residual current circuit breaker and, insufficient distance between electrical outlets/switches and water points, particularly in bathrooms.

The  Diagnostic Electrique has been in force since 1st January 2009 with the aim to identify the risks associated with outdated and poorly executed electrical installations. According to ONSE, Observatoire National de la Sécurité Électrique, up to 7 million households are at risk, 2.3 million of which are considered dangerous.

Gas installations

Since 2007, if applicable, a gas survey has been compulsory if a property is more than 15 years old and is valid for a period of 3 years.The aim of the survey is to detect any gas leakages. All fixed installations are tested and inspected including gas boilers, heaters, cookers (if they are supplied by a fixed gas supply) and any other fixed gas appliances. The survey will also consider the condition of fixed pipe work and any associated ventilation systems. The danger of a faulty system is obvious, leading to fire, explosion and poisoning. According to INPES (Institut National de Prévention et d’Éducation pour la Santé), 6000 people a year are poisoned as a result of faulty gas installations leaking carbon monoxide into a dwelling, with approximately 300 deaths.

Natural and technological risks

An ERNMT (État des Risques Naturels, Miniers et Technologiques) survey must be carried out on all property being offered for sale and is valid for a period of 6 months. Since July 2013 it has replaced the ERNT (Etat des Risques Naturels, Miniers et Technologiques), highlighting any natural, mining and technological hazards surrounding a property.

Natural hazards

A natural hazards is where the population is exposed, or is vulnerable to, a catastrophic event of natural origin. These include floods, tidal waves, heat waves, cyclones, storms (and other adverse weather conditions), avalanches, forest fires, landslides, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Mining hazards

Mining hazards relate to abandoned man-made underground excavations and cavities that may pose a risk of collapse. The PPRM (Plan de Prévention des Risques Miniers) demarcates areas of danger and precautionary zones, defining what measures of prevention, protection and backup need to be made and, how they are to be managed.

Technological risks

The technological hazards are primarily related to the Seveso II Directive which is EU law directive 96/82/EC of 9th December 1996 on the control of major accident hazards involving dangerous substances. Also considered are the dangers from industrial accidents, nuclear, transport of hazardous materials and dam breaks.

Energy performance certificate

Energy Performance Certificates


Energy Performance Certificates, in French, are known as DPE (Diagnostic Performance Energétique). The DPE is an important element of the Plan Climat implemented by the French government whose aim by 2050 is to divide their CO² level by 4. A DPE is mandatory and must be attained before a property can be advertised for sale, whereas all other surveys can be commissioned after the initial contract has been signed but before completion. Note, for a property to be advertised for sale it must show a current DPE alongside the details. If no energy improvements have been made, the survey is valid for 10 years (set by decree on 13th April 2011).

What is a DPE

The report provided when a DPE diagnostic survey has been carried out should tell the home owner the following

  • The classification of the property with regard to its yearly energy consumption/efficiency, measured in kWhEP/m²/year
  • The property’s environmental impact with regard to the amount of greenhouse gas emissions (CO²) calculated from the energy consumed/estimated in one year, measured as kg éqco²/m²/year. The French national average is 250kg éqco²/m²/year, giving a rating of E.
  • Recommendations on how to further reduce your energy consumption and thus improving your DPE rating. The recommendations are incentive rather than mandatory, and are for the benefit of the home owner.

How to read a DPE

The energy rating is graded from ‘A’, being the lowest and most desirable result, to ‘G’, meaning that a home is poorly insulated and will require investment to improve the insulation in the roof, walls and windows and maybe even a change of boiler to a more modern efficient model. It also takes into account air conditioning systems used to cool a property in summer.

What documents are needed by the home owner for a successful diagnostic survey?

The home owner/vendor needs to provide the surveyor with current energy bills showing yearly consumption so an accurate energy diagnosis can be made. If the owner fails to provide the documents the surveyor can provide a DPE blanc which allows the sale to continue but does not provide the potential buyer with evidence of the property’s energy performance. This can lead to a renegotiation of sale or complete withdrawal from the sale contract.


Since 1st April 2013, the surveyor is obliged to consider 60 checkpoints when calculating the DPE, twice the number than before. Once the report is made it is registered with the ADEME (Agence de l’Environnement Et de la Maîtrise de l’Énergie), the French Environment and Energy Management Agency. If no energy consumption information was provided the report will be marked ‘DPE blanc’ forcing the owner to commission a new survey.

Floor area – Loi Carrez

The Loi Carrez (Law Carrez) diagnostic survey is a calculation of a property’s habitable area and is only required when selling an apartment. The calculation is made not on the foot print of a property but the real habitable space within a property; it does not include areas taken up by walls, doorways, stairways, areas with a ceiling height of less than 1.80m, cellars, garages, car parks etc. It was brought into practice following the publication of the Loi Carrez in December 1996, to protect the buyer from overzealous vendors/estate agents exaggerating the habitable area of a property. A buyer has the right to contest the sale contract within 1 year, after the purchase, if the floor area is found to be less than 5% of that stated in the sale contract, and demand a price reduction in proportion to the extent of the error. If the floor area is found to be greater than that stated in the sale contract then no further recourse is available. Although a Loi Carrez diagnostic survey is valid so long as the floor area is not altered in any way, it cannot be used in successive sales of the same property.

How to check if a Diagnostiquer Immobilier is certified

Only a certified Diagnostiquer Immobilier is permitted to carry out diagnostic surveys, proving impartiality, qualifications and guarantees. To find one in your areaclick Diagnostiqueur Certifié.