Plenty of British people want to buy a house to renovate in France either because they love a good project, or because they want their French property exactly as they wish. But when renovating or improving a house – on a large scale or not – there is one thing you can be sure of: the builders will leave a mountain of rubbish…
Here are a few tips to reduce the quantity of rubbish that will be generated:
Reuse your rubbish:
The very first thing to do is to take care of this matter in the contract by including an express clause requiring the builder to be responsible – at no additional cost to you – for disposing of the resulting rubbish. Depending on the nature and the size of your project, this may often consist of wooden floors, brickwork, roof and floor tiles, and bathroom fittings that have been replaced, among other things. Make sure you have a clear understanding with the builder and his men with regard to any items that may be reusable.
For example, wooden floor slats can be cut up and used as firewood. Hence, you could use any floor joists of old barns or rotten beams that have been replaced if they are full of woodworm, sunken or in very bad condition. Knowing that oil prices have skyrocketed, suppliers of wood for burning have also increased their prices; so much so that you are getting a ‘free’ source of heating.
Remember that such items are supposed to belong to you: make sure the builder does not dispose of anything that you want to keep or reuse.
The way to deal with your rubbish is… the déchetterie:
Any items left in a barn or outbuildings that have been cleared and renovated need to be disposed of. In such cases, the builder may be reluctant to dispose of any TV sets or other unusable objects. You will have no other choice but to go to the local tip (déchetterie as it is called in France) and get rid of the items there yourself. A visit to the déchetterie could be quite an experience as you are entering another world- you’ll find Christmas trees next to fridges, old sofas next to paint tins. Be aware of the opening hours, as of course, it will close for lunch like every other establishment in France does. Within the déchetterie, you will need to identify yourself and say in which commune you live and give your address to the person in charge.
What to do with items made of iron
If the builder does not take away metal items, it may not be the best idea to take them to the déchetterie as it won’t always be accepted. If your French property is deep in the countryside, you may meet a well-established custom: a rag and bone man (known as a chiffonnier in France). This man comes round your village once or twice a month but does not ring his bell, so you have to watch out for him! Sometimes the municipal dustman will do a special collection and take away various unwanted items left outside your property. These may include iron objects, bedsteads and fridges but don’t worry, you will be notified of the times of such visits.
As you can see, the disposal of waste is a universal problem and authorities are generally quite strict on the matter. This is why it is a good thing to recycle!