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You are here : Home / Architectural Practice > Proposed Services > Condition survey in France

Conditions surveys in France - 3 methods

When a building owner carries out work near a property belonging to a third party, it can be useful to prepare a report, before work starts, of the state of the neighbouring property. It can act as proof of the state of the property before the work in order to:

  • simplify the management of any possible damage by avoiding any discussion on the initial state of the works
  • avoid being charged for work due to damage which existed already.

To safeguard himself a client can use one of three methods:

Inventory of fixtures - Etat des lieux contradictoire

Aménagement de bureauxEtude intérieure, aménagement de bureaux

The friendly method consists of establishing a clear inventory of fixtures with the owners in question, using one of two alternatives:

 - in simple cases by a written report describing the inventory of fixtures carried out directly by the interested parties (often with lots of photograhs)

 - for more complicated cases by involving an expert chosen by mutual agreement.

Bailiffs official report - Le constat d’huissier

Aménagement bureau 3Dfab_3Image : 3Dfabrique

A report  by a baliff, which can be carried out very quickly, will establish a photographic survey and describe precisely the condition of the properites.

Legal method - La méthode judiciaire

The legal method allows you to:

  • oblige an owner, who refuses the friendly method, to proceed to an inventory of fixtures
  • bring an additional guarantee for high-risk operations
  • simplify the steps involved with multiple parties


Moreover, the order which appoints the expert allows them to specify any safety works or protective measures if they prove to be necessary.   It is then advisable to ask the judge, within a framework of accelerated procedures, to nominate an expert who will carry out the necessary inventory of fixtures. This second method is generally called “Preventive judgement” (or instigators judgment). 


In front of the administrative courts, there are two further alternatives:

  • “the emergency report” in which the appointed expert has only one pure and simple task to write a report;
  • “the preventive judgement procedure” in which the applicant, by request to the President of the Administrative court, will specify the extent of the requested task. This procedure allows cleints to avoid damage by having better knowledge of the neighbouring buildings and any settlement due to litigation is facilitated in front of a legal expert.

Lastly, in the event of a disaster, the expert writes a precise report on the former state of the properties. Because of the number of advantages, the preventive judgement method is being used more and more.

If carried out well, an amical inventory of fixtures with a baliff should provide a similar guarantee to that using the legal method.  


Recourse to courts supposes that the procedure will start one to two months before the beginning of the works. This will require the following actions:

  • to identify the owners concerned as well as, possibly, companies and contractors of the building site, if they are already contracted,
  • to briefly describe the works in consideration,
  • to decide on the applicable court in the area by a formal summary request.


The time taken to obtain a summary order can vary between 15 and 45 days.

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