Obtaining the certificates
All the required tests are done by a single insured expert and the process takes around an hour. The price for doing the minimum for the estate agent to be able to legally advertise a property, the size “loi carrez” and the energy efficiency, cost around €100. The price for the complete set of tests is around €350, unless you can find the previous certificate for the tests for lead, in which case this knocks about €100 off the price.
The complete set of certificates are:
- Size – as apartments are renovated the configuration can change. For this reason there must be a certificate less than six months old giving the official size, ie the minimum habitable surface area, done by an insured expert. If you sell the apartment and the apartment is remeasured and found to be 5% or more smaller then the buyer can take the expert to court and is sure to win compensation.
- Lead – used to be used in paint until the process was banned in 1948. It is unlikely to be inside a modern apartment but is commonly found in the wooden shutters outside the windows. The law was passed to protect children from living in a decrepit apartment with peeling paint with lead in, where the child might eat fallen flakes and contract lead poisoning. There is no expiration on the certificate for lead, and the equipment used to detect lead traces is expensive, so if you can find a certificate from a previous sale (ie the one provide when you bought the apartment) then you will significantly cut the cost of all the tests being done.
- Asbestos – rarely found except in the lagging for pipes in the cellars, if the building has them, a certificate is still required for both the apartment and the communal areas. If any is found then the information provided should be passed onto by the buyer to any renovation company they engage to make them aware of the risk. In general any asbestos found not in a “degraded” state, ie flaking or peeling, can be ignored.
- Termites – not really a city-dweller problem, it is still nether the less a legal requirement. Expect this to be a mere formality.
- Electricity / Gas – this is for informational purposes only. The regulations change almost on an annual basis, and no apartment will get a clean tick sheet. Even a loose plug socket will get noted. The latest change regularly appearing is the lack of a low-tension circuit breaker for bathrooms. There is no obligation to make any changes, no matter how faulty the electricity is found to be.
- Energy efficiency – those famous coloured bars you see on fridges are now a requirement for apartments. The apartment and the building are tested for emissions and energy efficiency and then given a rating from A to G. In general they are always both somewhere in the middle around C/D, unless the building has particularly old communal central heating in which case emissions may fall lower on the chart. There will also be helpful hints attached, such as “Install double glazing”.
- Natural and technological risks – these apply to the whole region, not just to the city. It will inform you that you are in a forest fire area, flood risk area, and earthquake zone. The risk of the first is zero as there are no forests. We will see the residents of Monaco clinging to super-yachts before we see a drop of water on the Promenade. Flooding did cause a billion euros of damage and was declared a natural disaster in the middle of the Var, and reached as far as Antibes where cars floated down the road, but none has ever occurred in Nice. The city is also built on a rock shelf which means the earthquakes that hit Italy and Corsica are not even felt here, though the local paper might report that somebody noticed a tea cup rattle (no joke, that was an actual article).
Of all these certificates, only the “loi carrez” is really important. The two key components buyers look for after area are price and size. The number of square metres on this certificate directly determines the price per square metre, an important metric. If the expert plays it over-safe on the size, it can cost you a considerable amount of money. If the official size does not nearly match the “loi carrez” marked in your deeds of purchase then it is worth getting it remeasured again.