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With a growing number of real estate diagnostics, what are the data likely to question your project? Whether it is a property for sale or for rent, take the time to consult them.

What is the purpose of real estate diagnostics

The technical diagnostic file (DDT) gathers real estate observations and diagnoses. These elements provide information on the condition of the property for sale or rent. They are important levers of negotiation and can help define future priorities (electrical installations, heating, insulation...).

Guarantee of a secure transaction

Each year, as part of sales and rentals, more than 1.2 million diagnoses are made. Far from the visual approach "heart stroke" and home staging, DDT delivers an objective and factual inventory. It helps to assess the health status of the home, its safety and its energy performance. Obligations differ depending on the nature of the transaction: the file includes up to 10 certificates for a sale and 3 for a lease.
The location of housing conditions three components: risk prevention plan and area concerned by termites or merella. In the presence of one of these parasites, it is mandatory to inform the town hall. If gas or electricity installations have been carried out for more than 15 years, they are subject to mandatory diagnoses. Only the diagnosis of energy performance (DPE) concerns all real estate.
These reports are a mine of information to consult carefully. If they are provided at the signing of the deed of sale, it is necessary to take advantage of the 7 days of withdrawal period. A bad surprise can hide and question the viability of a project.
The DPE is the only document to appear obligatorily in the real estate ad, as soon as it is published. It has informative and non-contractual value. It takes into account the insulation, the waterproofness of the windows and the efficiency of the heating equipment and must include four main information: a description of the characteristics of the housing and its thermal equipment; an estimate of annual energy consumption and its cost; a classification according to consumption2 and the indication of the amount of CO2 related to this consumption.
A list of works to improve the energy performance of housing is also proposed. Regular tests by consumer associations reveal that they must be considered with caution because they are still unreliable (1).
As part of a real estate purchase, the most sensible is to refer to the energy bills of the previous owner and compare lifestyles (number of people in the home, permanent or punctual presence...).


1) Notably: "Energy diagnosis, the big lottery", "60 million consumers", July-August 2014.

The DPE, leverage of negotiation

Misdiagnosis can be an important bargaining lever, up to minus 5%2 for the decommissioning of one energy class to another.
Example: a good labeled A or B can sell for almost twice the price of a similar good labeled F or G (2). The energy label is of particular importance in the context of the 1% employer credit. Since January 2010, the DPE of the housing concerned must be less than 230 kWhEP / m2/ year (classes A to D), but the average French housing stock is around 240 kWEP / m2/ year, which corresponds to class E (3). Isolate the entire house of 150 m2 represents a big budget (about 10,000 euros only in materials for walls and roofing).
(2) Source: Dinamic Association, April 2015.
(3) Source: "The key figures of the 2009 building", Ademe

Evaluate sanitary quality

Asbestos and lead, widely distributed in homes, are the subject of specific attestations. The identification of the location and state of lead is for painting and not for piping.
Works carried out by companies on sites involving asbestos or lead require special skills and protections (containment of the area concerned, waste treatment...). The company involved in asbestos materials must be specifically approved. Often, the company brought to do renovation or extension work is not and therefore uses an asbestos removal company.
The simple removal of 60 m² of asbestos roof can cost more than 5,000 euros. Even on degraded asbestos, there is no obligation to undertake work. But given its dangerousness, it is advisable not to wait for its deterioration.
In a house, many supports can contain: braids, corrugated or gray plates, flocking, slates, rough pipes, slabs...

Mandatory work

Diagnostic findings may require buyers to undertake work. The supply of a gas installation presenting a serious and immediate danger will be cut off; the presence of degraded lead paints implies a work obligation for the owner-lessor. The only diagnosis that requires work in the short term is that of sanitation, for homes not connected to the sewer. The new owner of a house whose sanitation poses risks to public health (overflow in gutters) or pollution (groundwater contamination) must carry out compliance work in the year following the purchase. Their cost is around 10,000 euros. This situation calls for a downward revision of the price of the good.

Sale under suspensive condition

In a sale, the obligation of information results in the production of the technical diagnosis from the compromise. Otherwise, the seller can not be exempted from the guarantee of hidden defects. In case of absence of the entire file or additional diagnoses, one solution is to sign a sales agreement under suspensive condition that future diagnoses do not reveal the presence of asbestos for asbestos diagnosis, no defects for the diagnostic electricity, no radon for this additional diagnosis, etc.
In practice, it is strongly recommended to wait for the completion of diagnoses before signing the pre-contract. This type of suspensive condition places a lot of uncertainty on the outcome of the sale. It is not uncommon for diagnoses to reveal defects in old buildings.

The opinion of the expert

"We must take the time to read all the diagnoses, even if they are only provided at the time of the promise of sale and contain more than a hundred pages. The ideal is to consult them on request during a counter-visit before the signature, in order to be able to integrate the data essential to the decision-making and the negotiation. "
Virginia Pumpkin, Real Estate and Construction Lawyer at the National Institute of Consumer Affairs.

Diagnostic, a new profession

Measure the lead with a real estate diagnoser

The real estate diagnosers have a certificate of competence issued by an accredited body, renewed every 5 years. This profession was the subject of strong criticism that led the Ministry of Sustainable Development to create a site to ensure the qualification of each of them: Diagnostics.application.developpement-durable.gouv.fr. The diagnostician must meet criteria of impartiality and independence vis-à-vis the owner, his agent (real estate agent) or any company likely to carry out work.
The owner remains responsible for the choice of his diagnostician and can be worried about co-responsibility in the event of misdiagnosis. After verifying that the provider is certified and that he has professional liability insurance, he must be asked how long he intends to go through a diagnosis. For a dwelling of 70-90 m2, it must devote between 30 minutes and one hour per diagnosis. Its price must be in adequacy with this duration. A diagnostician must have specific devices - for measuring lead, for example. It is imperative to go on site and use them to make a reliable diagnosis.

The limits of the technical file

The diagnoser bases his study on the visible elements. He is not authorized to carry out destructive soundings (verification of doublings, sheaths, isolations...). Thus, the state of the roof is not part of the mentions to the diagnosis. When a major change is considered, it may be useful to consult the Town Planning Department. Being assisted during a counter-visit by a professional (contractor, architect) makes it possible to establish the technical and economic feasibility of a construction site. The buyer can have additional diagnostics carried out, such as assessing the presence of radon in the regions concerned.
The list of work recommended by the DPE is unreliable, before engaging in energy improvement work, it is better to have an audit by an independent professional.

The 10 mandatory diagnoses

Click on the image to enlarge:

10 mandatory diagnoses during ECD

Energy label and climate label

The energy label of a dwelling evaluates its heating consumption, while the climate label quantifies the level of greenhouse gas emissions.
Take the example of a house of 120 m², renovated and built between 1975 and 1981, located in Calvados.
Its annual consumption is 20,000 kWh. The monthly cost of its electric convection heating will be 328 € against 208 € with a gas condensing boiler (installation, maintenance, subscription and consumption smoothed over 15 years) *.
The method of calculation of the DPE penalizes the electric heating by applying to its actual consumption in kilowatt hours a factor of 2.58. On the other hand, no coefficient is applied to the other heating modes.
Thus, our construction would be classified F with electric heating and gas D (20 000 x 2.58 / 120 = 430, 20 000/120 = 167).
* Source: Ademe, May 2014

energy saving building label

Energy label: energy consumption in kWhEP / m2.an Climate label: greenhouse gas emissions in kgeqCO2 / m2.year
Economy building

DPE on real estate advertisement

Since the 1st January 2011, the result of the DPE must necessarily appear in the form of a label on real estate advertisements relating to the sale or rental of real estate.

climate label

Climate label: greenhouse gas emissions in kgeqCO2/ m2.an Thrifty building
Low GHG emissions

Ministry of Health and Sustainable Development Brochures

Asbestos Brochure

The Ministries of Health and Sustainable Development publish leaflets informing the inhabitants of the health risks.
Two particularly useful brochures concern asbestos and DIY.
They are available on developpement-durable.gouv.fr.

prevention against lead


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