Post Written by Jay Cross

Over the past 30 years, owners of French holiday homes or ‘Maison Secondaires’ have been relying on British builders to repair and renovate their property instead of using their French counterparts. For Antiques Dealer Mary Isobel Smith, the experience of instructing a French builder to refurbish her ‘Maison de Maitre’ near Bayonne was often challenging:

“I’m sure many French homeowners have satisfactory relationships with French builders, but in my experience, it has not been easy because my spoken French is simply not as good as it could be. You just don’t find the words in the English/French dictionary for “leaking pipe”. It’s enormously difficult to give clear instructions to a French builder when faced with a stressful experience such as water coming through the roof or a burst water main.”

Cross builders from Folkestone have been working on all types of French holiday homes for British owners and it helps that three of the senior members of the building firm are fluent French speakers. Xavier Fougasse, Colin Gaunt and Jay Cross have all lived and worked in France so there are no problems when it comes to ordering building materials from Gedimat or Batiland – the French equivalent of Jewsons.

With a strong pound against a weak Euro now is a good time for British owners to carry out renovations and essential repairs.

Cross Builders have been attending French building conferences such as JADDE in Lille and Environord and Energaii in Montpellier, in the South of France to learn about the latest innovations and building technologies that are helping to improve homes, making them warmer and more comfortable in Winter whilst using less heating fuel.

Jay Cross commented: “Sometimes we are so impressed by these new European technologies that we bring them back across the channel on our return home. An example is a reflective quilt manufactured by Actis near Carcassonne. With a thickness of just 12mm it is a huge improvement on glass fibre insulation because it does not irritate the skin, it takes up less room and is 3 times more efficient.”

Cross Builders also use their product knowledge of UK manufactured materials to help repair structurally damaged homes without the expense of underpinning. By installing thin stainless steel rods into cracked masonry walls, they can skilfully repair a property that would previously been considered too expensive to repair.

With smooth, well maintained ‘Autoroutes’ throughout France, the Kent based building company can arrive at any destination in France and often within 10 hours be ready for work. Last year the team travelled to Birmingham to collect a large iron spiral staircase and then travel nearly 800 miles to install it in a lakeside house in the depths of the Dordogne countryside. The next project is for an English Interior Designer from Leicester whose holiday home in Brittany is a stone built ‘Longere’ in need of some TLC.

Jay Cross says “ It is often hard work and in the summer months when temperatures reach 30 degrees or more, in the South, the extreme heat can affect us but we all learn from the experience and it is often an honour to work on beautiful houses in truly amazing locations.”

Cross Builders are a STEM accredited company, based in Folkestone just 10 minutes from the Channel Tunnel.

Click onto www.cross-builders.co.uk website for examples of some of their recent projects. Contact Cross Builders – 07966496911, 01303 211805 or email jay.cross1@ntlworld.com

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