Friday, 6 January 2012

French frolics

For all the love the French have of bureaucracy, I always find it surprising that they manage to ignore so many rules, regulations and, especially, dictats from the Big Brother in Brussels, otherwise known as the European Parliament (or Commission, which is rather like an unelected parliament with the power to make its own laws). Take, by way of one example, the average French tractor. Yes, I know that many French farmers, courtesy of the European Common Agricultural Policy and the French government, which seems to think that farmers and fishermen have more rights than anyone else, there are many rich French farmers. But there are just as many who simply scratch a living. Certainly they are better off than peasant farmers in, say, Bosnia, but rich they are not. Their tractors are often twenty or more years old, which means they don't possess some of the modern safety features which are required by law in England - and probably in France as well. Many is the tractor one sees in the fields or lanes where there is no roll bar to protect the driver in the event of the tractor overturning.

Sometimes, however, the French seem to delight in going to the other extreme. When one sells a house in France, there are several reports the seller has to have prepared - at his expense. This is possibly because the French rarely have a survey done when buying a house; they rely heavily, it would seem, on these reports. Until quite recently there were three of them, covering lead paint, asbestos and termites. It doesn't matter if there are no termites withing a couple of hundred miles of the house you are selling, you still have to have the survey and report done. Now there is a fourth report if the house you are selling is not on mains drainage.

Our holiday home in France is not on mains drainage. I think our house and the one next door are the only ones in the village that don't enjoy this amenity. Sewers were installed along our road when two small developments were built, one each side of the road, way back, but for some reason the drains didn't get as far as our house. Maybe the elderly occupiers of the two houses decided they couldn't afford - or didn't want to pay for - the extension of the sewer to our house. It means, of course, that we have a fosse septique, a cess pit. It works quite adequately, but. . .

Back in 2004 new rules were introduced. All houses not on mains drainage were to be surveyed and, where necessary, the drainage systems had to be brought into line with the new requirements by the end of 2005. I am not aware that our house has ever been surveyed and we have certainly never been told officially that our drainage system is not up to standard - but I know it isn't. I also know that we have insufficient land for us to bring the system up to the required standard, which states that the whole system must be a minimum distance from passing traffic. We - the Old Bat and I - just assumed that, as in so many things, the French were being pragmatic and just shrugging their shoulders in a Gallic way. We should have known better. There is now a fourth survey and report required when selling a house, a report confirming that the drainage system is up to standard.

Quite how we shall overcome this problem I have no idea. Oh yes I do - we don't sell but leave the house to our children and they can have the problem!


Uncle Skip, said...

I'm sure they'll thank you for that

Brighton Pensioner said...

I thought it quite an ingenious solution, especially as if they are cunning and don't tell the Revenue, they won't have to pay death duties on that bit of the estate.

Stephen Hayes said...

The more I read, the fainter my dream of owning a home in France becomes, even though we have many strange regulations here in Oregon. I had to pay $12,000 dollars to decommission an oil tank in my backyard so I could sell the property, even though the tank had been decommissioned in the late forties. We sold the house and the tank is still there.

SP said...

...and the latest is that we've got to remove the radar warnings from our TomToms!

You couldn't make it up,