French building boom leads to shortage of builders for property renovation projects

If you've got construction work planned you may struggle to find a builder this year, after a surge in demand as French owners undertake renovation and improvement works on their property.

French building boom leads to shortage of builders for property renovation projects
Photo: Philippe HUGUEN / AFP.

Swimming pool installers are also seeing boom times, with almost 200,000 polls installed last year alone.

French builders were just as busy in the first six months of this year as they were before the pandemic, according to a study by the Confederation of Crafts and Small Building Companies (Capeb) published on Tuesday.

The growth of the building industry was driven by energy renovation, which grew by 3.3 percent in the first half of the year from the same period in 2019.

Overall, maintenance and renovation grew 2.2 percent from pre-pandemic figures.

“Being confined and working from home has prompted French people to change their homes in order to live better,” said Capeb president Jean-Christophe Repon.

READ ALSO How to avoid being conned by rogue tradespeople in France

Government funding for energy renovation

Growth in energy renovation – which includes retrofitting and power-saving upgrades – is key to France meeting its climate change commitments as buildings account for 28 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions, Andreas Rudinger of the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations wrote in an article last year.

France has been actively encouraging people to undertake energy renovation projects. In January, the government opened up its MaPrimeRenov’ scheme – which offers grants of up to €20,000 to make properties more energy efficient – to all homeowners, including for second homes.

Around 200,000 people requested grants in 2020, when the scheme was reserved for modest-income households, but the government expects to help 800,000 further homeowners in 2021, housing minister Emmanuelle Wargon told Le Parisien in April.

READ ALSO EXPLAINED: How to access France’s €20k property renovation grants

So what does this mean for people looking to renovate their property? Well, you might have to do a bit of searching to find someone who’s available to do the job.

At the beginning of September, 14 percent of small builders said they still hoped to recruit more staff.

Builders employing fewer than 20 people added 26,000 jobs in the 12 months to March 31st, according to the report.

The Capeb is predicting a total of 25,000 new jobs will be created in 2021, but Repon warned that “the lack of skilled labour is a real concern for our businesses”.

Rising prices

If you are able to find someone to do your works, you may have to pay more than before the pandemic.

In addition to high demand for builders, a global shortage of raw materials has made prices shoot up and caused delays to supply chains.

Three-quarters of small builders say prices of materials have risen, and 57 percent report disruptions to supplies according to a survey by Capeb and research company Xerfi. 67 percent of businesses said they have occasionally had to delay jobs.

Carpenters and locksmiths are the most likely to be affected, with 86 percent reporting a rise in costs, followed by plumbers and heating engineers (81 percent) and painters and decorators (80 percent).

READ ALSO France to bring in new environmental rules on log burners and open fires

While the offer of materials is slowly picking up, global demand has exploded, according to economist Philippe Chalmin, who specialises in raw material markets. From the summer of 2020, the Chinese economy kicked back into gear, and “Chinese demand exploded for a great number of industrial products,” Chalmin told Le Figaro in May.

“If Chinese demand is subsiding slightly now, this growth has been replaced from the end of 2020 by the recovery of the American economy, which is being kick-started by stimulus packages.”

While major companies operating large construction sites have reported little impact on their turnover, smaller firms or independent workers who undertake home renovations are more likely to feel the effects of rising prices and shortages.

Tradesman Stéphane Payen told Challenges magazine that his quotes “used to be valid for three months. Now, no more than a week.”

The Local now publishes a weekly roundup of French property news, which is available HERE.

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Income tax declaration in France: The key dates you need to know

It's tax declaration season in France and some of the key dates have changed. Here's a reminder of the ones you need to know.

Income tax declaration in France: The key dates you need to know

It is tax season in France, and pretty soon we will be approaching the deadline to file for your 2021 revenues. 

Filing by the post

For those who use the paper form and file their tax declarations via the post, the deadline, which was initially scheduled for May 19th, has been pushed back to May 31st, 2022 (at latest by 11:59pm).

This is due to the fact that some taxpayers received their 2021 tax return (pre-filled in paper format) significantly later than in previous years, an issue that concerns “a little less than 5 percent of users receiving these returns,” according to a press release by the French finance ministry. 

This should not change the dates for everyone though, as most taxpayers will file online.

READ MORE: The complete French tax calendar for 2022 – which taxes are due when?

Filing online

The deadlines for filing online déclarations have not changed. The date to declare your revenues remains based on the département you reside in. If you are a non-resident, the date is May 24th.

Tuesday, May 24th 2022 by 11:59pm: “Zone 1” (départements 1 through 19) 

Tuesday, May 31st 2022 by 11:59pm: “Zone 2” (départements 20 through 54). As mentioned previously, this is also the deadline for those filing by the post. 

Wednesday, June 8th by 11:59pm: “Zone 3” (départements 55 to 974/976)

Who has to fill one out?

Most people living in France – residents, second home owners, those working in France or employers of those working in France – need to fill out a déclaration de revenues. If you are wondering about whether you are exempted from declaring your revenues in France, here is a guide

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Who has to make a tax declaration in France in 2022?

For filling out your tax declaration, you will first and foremost need to have a numéro fiscale (tax number). The French government has recently created a guide to help foreigners with filling out their first French tax declaration, though you can always go straight to the official government tax website.

Nevertheless, if you are still struggling, you can always email the Tax4Business help desk service ([email protected]) which is run by the French government’s Public Finances Directorate (DGFiP). It is the primary point of contact for all tax related questions involving foreign nationals.

READ MORE: Ask the expert: How to fill out the 2022 French tax declaration

What should you include in your declaration?

You will need to include your salary income (which includes professional expenses, bonuses, etc), any additional income you earned on top of your salary, your pension income and/or social security payments, any income related to investment or real estate, and finally any unemployment benefits you received in the last year. If you’re worried about any bank accounts you have outside of France, here is what you need to know.

READ MORE: Reader question: Do I need to declare my non-French bank accounts?

You’ll also need to declare any changes of status – Did you get married or have a child? Did you change or lose your job? These are the types of changes you will need to note on the declaration form.