windows france

Replace your windows and doors to stay warmer and greener

Our planet is getting warmer for sure: glaciers are melting, sea levels are rising and average temperatures are getting hotter. We all have a responsibility to look after our environment for the generations of today and tomorrow – and by using energy more efficiently in our homes, we can all play a part.

How can we do this?

The average home in France loses between 25 – 30% of its energy through windows, doors and roofs, with many older properties lacking proper insulation and with single or double panes of glass which have poor heat retaining qualities.

However, recent improvements in the manufacturing process mean that modern windows and doors are much more energy efficient and also provide improved acoustic insulation.

Who benefits? By installing new windows or doors, your home will cost less to heat – and it will help the environment too with reduced greenhouse gas emissions from the use of electricity and fossil fuels.

Finding suppliers of quality windows and doors which are manufactured to the highest standards, are aesthetically beautiful and are highly energy efficient is crucially important to us. That’s why we have teamed up with AL-Tech to supply windows, doors, sliding doors, pergolas, gazebos, garage doors, aluminium framework and automated roller shutters. The company is a market leader in PVCu, aluminium and timber profile windows and all of the fixtures and fittings comply fully with French requirements – RT 2012 – for building and installation.

Here at Kiwi Construction we specialise in renovation and construction projects, particularly heritage properties. We respect the character of older properties, for example by retaining or enhancing original features, whilst improving the thermal insulation and energy efficiency of a house.

There are many ways in which we can become greener and reduce our energy use: if you would like to discuss how we can help, including whether you need a particular bespoke solution, please get in touch.

Kiwi Construction delivers professional expertise, exceptional customer service and quality construction to all its’ clients covering the Biarritz, the Pays Basque and Landes departments.

Grant and Joeline

Making the impossible, possible

New Zealanders – or Kiwis – are well known for their can do attitude and optimistic approach to life. So when Grant and Joeline Norris and their family settled in south west France from their native land more than 25 years ago, they were determined to share this positive spirit amongst their new compatriots and French friends.

Making the impossible, possible is at the heart of what Kiwi Construction, the firm created by the couple after Grant finished playing rugby for Dax, offers to all its clients. Grant who is a qualified quantity surveyor and Joeline, a chartered accountant, have utilised their professional experience, know-how and understanding of the French culture and heritage to the benefit of their international clients.

The family have over the years successfully integrated into the community, with their children attending local schools and the whole family participating in social activities which characterise everyday life in the Landes. Their approach has been to marry their Anglophone culture with a deep appreciation and understanding of French values and approach. In particular, their experiences over the past two decades have helped shape their way of working by listening to the views of the older generations.

“There is always a way” is very much the Kiwi Construction philosophy – a determination to find a solution which works for the client and gets a job done successfully. This approach combines a focus on the customer and a respect for the traditions of their community, including the buildings and architecture which forms a key part of the region.

If you have a project which looks to be seemingly impossible – or you are seeking a fresh perspective – why not contact us? We love the challenge of all kinds of different renovation and construction projects, large or small.

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Kiwi Construction delivers professional expertise, exceptional customer service and quality construction to all its’ clients covering the Biarritz, the Pays Basque and Landes departments.

Grant & Joeline Norris
+33 (0)5 58 55 35 22 / +33 (0)6 03 18 53 31


#renovation #France #artisans #buyingpropertyinfrance #landes #paysbasque #holidayhomes #bearn

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Making the best of the space in your home in France

Why is creating an effective use of space in your home so important?

We discuss that question often with our clients; we understand how crucial it is to plan the layout of their home to design the floor area as efficiently as possible. Whether the property is large or small, planning the allocation and positioning of the interior space is a key step for ensuring that your home is appropriate to your needs both now and in the future. 
Retaining the character of the property as part of a renovation project is an essential part of what we do, respecting the heritage of your home whilst also making it more comfortable for modern living. So, what are the main things you need to consider?

1. Think about the position of the plumbing for bathrooms, toilets, showers as well as for kitchen units. In the first instance, consider the practical needs of you and your family. Any significant new renovation is likely to require new plumbing pipes, so decide where you wish them to run and the position of your kitchen and bathroom areas. Termites can also be a problem, needing a water supply to exist. This could be from condensation on a water pipe or a leak in a badly maintained wall… so another reason for looking closely at the structure of your property.

2. If you are planning an extension, avoid through rooms. You need to ensure that your home is liveable and the circulation space healthy, therefore it is wise to consider the function of every room at this planning stage. Providing direct access to areas such as the kitchen, dining and living space is especially important.

If you are considering a renovation project and thinking about making the most effective use of space, contact us and we will be happy to help. We have extensive experience in undertaking renovation and constructive projects in this beautiful region, working with a range of property professionals.

Kiwi Construction delivers professional expertise, exceptional customer service and quality construction to all its’ clients covering the Biarritz, the Pays Basque and Landes departments.

Grant & Joeline Norris
+33 (0)5 58 55 35 22 / +33 (0)6 03 18 53 31

#renovation #France #artisans #buyingpropertyinfrance #landes#paysbasque #basquecoast #cotebasque #planning #spaceutilisation

How heat efficient systems can reduce your energy bills

If you live in an older property in France, you may be familiar with the challenge of keeping the property warm and properly ventilated.

We advise our clients that three of the most important considerations are good insulation, installing a cost effective heating system and ensuring a good circulation of air in the building.

Insulation will help to ensure that the property is air tight and well insulated. This will keep it cooler in summer and warmer in winter and save up to 80% in heating and cooling losses. Insulation can also help to reduce condensation.

Having a well maintained, efficient heating system is also crucial. There are of course a range of options, including solar heating, geothermal heating, wood, oil, electric or non-geothermal systems such as heat pumps.

However there is a third consideration which often clients do not think about…. the importance of good ventilation and the efficient circulation of air. Mechanical ventilation systems – often referred to in France as Double Flux VMC or otherwise known as Heat Recovery Ventilation Systems – can reduce your heating bills by around 20%. They work by drawing in the fresh air from outside and take it out via a simple flux mechanism.

There are a number of benefits: you’ll experience fresh, cooler air during the summer (perfect for hot evenings and nights) and it’s cheaper compared to air conditioning. These ventilation systems are better for your health, too. You will be less likely to experience mould in the house and for those who suffer from conditions such as asthma, the cleaner, purified air will be a real advantage.

So if you are looking to retain the character of your beautiful older property in France – but introduce modern thermal efficient systems to make it more comfortable – now you can… 
Kiwi Construction delivers professional expertise, exceptional customer service and quality construction to all its’ clients covering the Biarritz, the Pays Basque and Landes departments.

Grant & Joeline Norris
+33 (0)5 58 55 35 22 / +33 (0)6 03 18 53 31

#renovation #France #artisans #buyingpropertyinfrance #landes#paysbasque #basquecoast #cotebasque #ventilationsystems#thermalefficiency

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Come and join the party! Great Pays Basque festivals to enjoy in 2018

The Pays Basque in South West France has some of the biggest and best festivals for sure. The summer months are especially popular, but in truth you will discover local festivals in many communities throughout the year. Each festival has its own traditions, although events generally will have shared themes, for example music, concerts, puppets, artisanal craft markets, plenty of food and drink as well as fireworks as a finale.

Here in the beautiful Pays Basque, we know what makes a great party…. so here are just a few that have caught our eye.

– Fêtes de Bayonne (see photo). This captivating little city of timber-framed houses is set on the confluence of two rivers. Since 1462, every spring (29th March – 1st April 2018) the town has held a Foire au Jambon de Bayonne in honour of the world-famous ham. Every July (25th – 29th 2018) a 5 day festival is held – the largest in France. Many people will dress in red and white (the colours of the Spanish city, Pamplona) and enjoy the music, street theatre and parades. 

– Saint-Jean-de-Luz. This popular fishing resort has beautiful beaches and plenty of charm. In June, the town holds a Fête de la Saint-Jean to celebrate the arrival of summer and its’ patron saint. Expect concerts, colourful costumes and lots of food and drink. The following month be sure to catch the Fête du Thon (7th July 2018) in recognition of the town’s status as the first tuna port in France. There is even a Nuit de la Sardine too!

– Anglet is home to some of the beast beaches in France and has some superb surfing conditions too. Each July (10-13th 2018) there is an international surf film festival which brings together amateurs and professionals to celebrate cinematographic achievements… all surfing related. Alternatively, if rugby’s your game, why not try beach rugby? The summer festival is held this year between 20th & 22nd July. 

These are our choices; why not tell us which festivals in the Pays Basque are your favourites?

Kiwi Construction delivers professional expertise, exceptional customer service and quality construction to all its’ clients covering the Biarritz, the Pays Basque and Landes departments. 

Grant & Joeline Norris
+33 (0)5 58 55 35 22 / +33 (0)6 03 18 53 31 

#renovation #France #artisans#buyingpropertyinfrance #landes #paysbasque#basquecoast #cotebasque #festivalsinfrance#festivalspaybasque #placestogopaysbasque

batiment biarritz

Why you’ll love the food and drink of the Pays Basque

Food in the Pays Basque in South West France is a heavenly mix of Spanish and French cuisine: and increasingly other countries too. The region is famous for its tantalising sweet-hot peppers, an abundance of fresh seafood, hearty hams and other succulent meats, as well boasting an extensive choice of delicious cheeses. What is there not to love?

The legendary American Chef Julia Child once said, “Wine is meant to be with food – that’s the point of it.” And here in the Pays Basque, we have our fair share of superb wines from local vineyards; amongst these are the distinctive wines from Irouléguy (the smallest wine appellation in France) in the foothills of the Pyrenees, to the more widely known Madiran and Jurançon vintages.

There is so much to enjoy in Pays Basque dishes, both traditional and more modern.

On a typical Pays Basque menu you will generally find food steeped in tradition and flavour. Basque chorizo is one example; smoky and spicy, this tasty sausage has a vibrant red colour from the dried smoked Espelette peppers that are famous in the region. Let’s also not forget the celebrated Bayonne ham, a wide variety of duck dishes and cod prepared in a special Basque style sauce with peppers and flavoured with garlic.

Seafood is, without question, excellent; the superb Atlantic coastline is an ideal place to discover the best oysters in France as well as all kinds of fish and shellfish… accompanied by a chilled glass of rosé or white wine, perhaps?

As our taste buds change, the cuisine of the Pays Basque is also evolving to adapt original flavours and combinations. Many restaurants will include exciting new fusion recipes, prepared using ingredients from across the world and offering an additional dimension to French cooking; the aromatic and fragrant appeal of Thai food, elegant Japanese cuisine such as sushi and the spicier flavours of the orient, for example.
If you love good food or drink, you’ll love the Pays Basque.

Kiwi Construction delivers professional expertise, exceptional customer service and quality construction to all its’ clients covering the Biarritz, the Pays Basque and Landes departments.

Grant & Joeline Norris
+33 (0)5 58 55 35 22 / +33 (0)6 03 18 53 31

#renovation #France #artisans #buyingpropertyinfrance #landes #paysbasque #basquecoast #cotebasque #jurancon #madiran #wine #food #cuisinepaysbasque


3 reasons to love Christmas in South West France

If you love Christmas, then there are plenty of reasons to choose the south west France and here are our three favourites. The Landes, Pays Basque and Béarn in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region each have their own distinctive identity, culture, food and drink: and Christmas is no exception.

1. Food and drink. Le Réveillon is the traditional Christmas meal on 24th December, where family and friends gather to enjoy a feast of culinary delights, usually consisting of 7 or 8 courses. A French Christmas would be incomplete without oysters and in this part of the world the Hossegor oysters are the finest, usually served as an appetiser with a glass of champagne, of course! Seafood is an important ingredient as well, with gambas (a type of large shrimp) and other types of fish on the menu; followed by either a succulent goose, a capon chicken or a tasty duck and of course foie gras. Let’s not forget either the delicious cheeses from the Pyrénées …

2. Christmas markets. France is famous for its’ markets and Christmas is no different. You will discover Marchés de Noël throughout December, with many towns and larger villages providing the perfect opportunity to spend time looking for gifts or ornate decorations in the brightly coloured chalets and stalls. Especially in the smaller markets, the products will generally be made by local artisans and are of good quality. There is also plenty of delicious food to satisfy our appetites and vin chaud to warm us on the colder winter evenings.

3. Christmas lights. Even in the smaller towns and villages, local people take real pride in their decorations, with the sparkly lights illuminating brightly against the dark December skies. Definitely worth a trip out in the evening to soak up the festive atmosphere.

These are just three reasons why we so enjoy Christmas in this beautiful part of South West France: what do you love most about the festive season?

Kiwi Construction delivers professional expertise, exceptional customer service and quality construction to all its’ clients covering the Biarritz, the Pays Basque and Landes departments.

Grant & Joeline Norris
+33 (0)5 58 55 35 22 / +33 (0)6 03 18 53 31


#renovation #France #artisans #buyingpropertyinfrance #landes #paysbasque #basquecoast #cotebasque #Christmas #Noel

pays basque

The Pays Basque: the best place to live in France?

Why do we believe this? The Pays Basque in south western France has an exceptional coastline, beautiful beaches, and superb food and drink, taking the very best produce from the sea and from the land. It has festivals during the year which are lively, colourful and fun, with a language that is unique in Europe and a culture which is very special.

History, culture and geography come together in this delightful region, to create a land and a people that are welcoming, successfully marrying old traditions with more and contemporary lifestyles in a way that is both inspiring and impressive.

There’s no doubt that the Pays Basque is exceptional as a place to live, to work and for a vacation. The Basque region covers both France and Spain, with the French side consisting of three provinces Labourd, Bas Navarre, and Soule on the Atlantic coast. It has a history of autonomy and independence which gives the region its own identity, flag and local cultural traditions.

Architectural heritage is extremely important. Throughout the area you will notice the distinctive style of the Maison Basque houses, either red (“Basque red”) and white or green and white in colour. As a company which has worked in the Pays Basque for many years, we understand the planning issues and cultural considerations which ensure that the region is so attractive and appealing to newcomers and those who have lived here all their lives.

Geographically the Pays Basque has the best of so many worlds, with its amazing coastline, pretty countryside and the magnificent Pyrénées mountains which are not too far away. If you are looking at the Basque coast there are plenty of resorts to choose from, starting at Hendaye on the Spanish border, next up Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Guéthary, Bidart (see photo), Biarritz before finishing at Tarnos Plage.

Finally, let’s not forget the delicious food and drink! Tasty Bayonne ham, sweet chilli peppers, excellent local seafood, especially oysters and mullet fish; perhaps enjoyed with a glass (or two…) of Jurançon wine.
We love living here – why not discover this stunning part of France for yourself? Whether you are looking for a second home or a permanent residence, it’s the perfect choice.

Kiwi Construction delivers professional expertise, exceptional customer service and quality construction to all its’ clients covering the Biarritz, the Pays Basque and Landes departments.
Grant & Joeline Norris
+33 (0)5 58 55 35 22 / +33 (0)6 03 18 53 31


#renovation #France #artisans #buyingpropertyinfrance #landes #paysbasque #holidayhomes #basquecoast #cotebasque
(Photo credit: @olkoneweb Instagram/Twitter)


Les cercles : républicains et associatifs

Spécifiques au Sud de la Gironde et au Nord des Landes de Gascogne, les cercles font partie de l’histoire d’hier comme de la vie culturelle et sociale d’aujourd’hui.
On peut y parler gascon, écouter du rock, y voir une exposition, participer à un tournoi de belote ou de fléchettes ou simplement y boire un verre entre concitoyens… Les Cercles des villages des Landes font partie du patrimoine vivant, même si leurs statuts et leurs règlements ne sont plus ce qu’ils étaient vraiment autrefois.

De « cercles républicains » fondés en 1830 à « cafés associatifs » au 3e millénaire, ces lieux typiques remplissent une mission primordiale au sein des communes rurales. Bien moins nombreux qu’antan, ils sont au centre de toutes les attentions de la Fédération des cercles de Gascogne pour que perdure leur rôle rassembleur.

Des lieux en vie

Nés dans la première moitié du XIXe siècle à l’initiative de notables réunis autour d’idées communes (le plus souvent politiques), les cercles reflètent les affinités de leurs membres avec des appellations éloquentes : de l’Union, Républicain, des Démocrates, des Citoyens, Ouvrier, des Travailleurs, de la Concorde, de la Paix, de la Fraternité, de l’Avenir, etc. Leur existence est légalisée avec la Loi de 1901 sur les associations mais leurs principes restent pendant quelques décennies inchangées…

Pas de membres mineurs, pas de femmes (par ordre du Préfet !) et des lieux strictement réservés aux hommes qui y viennent deviser, s’informer, boire du vin… Depuis, les mutations de la société ont inscrit les Cercles dans l’ouverture. D’ailleurs, les institutions départementales et régionales travaillent même sur leur pérennisation au travers de pistes articulées autour de l’animation, de promotion des productions locales, voire d’informations touristiques.

Avec 25 ans d’expérience et de savoir-faire mis au service de ses clients, l’entreprise générale de bâtiment Kiwi Construction cultive de grandes valeurs éthiques : honnêteté, intégrité et professionnalisme. Grâce à une équipe d’experts et à l’utilisation de matériaux de qualité ainsi que des dernières technologies, Kiwi réalise tous les projets de rénovation et de construction, quel que soit leur dimension. Sa devise ? « Rendre l’impossible possible » ! Contact : Kiwi Construction – 460 chemin de Pedoucasse, 40360 Tilh. Tél. 05 58 55 35 22.

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Enjoying the sunshine in your swimming pool in France

The sun is shining against a bright blue sky, the temperature is lovely and hot – perfect conditions for a dip in the cool, blue water of your own swimming pool. If you are looking to build a pool for your home, or maybe you are seeking to renovate an existing one, below are a few things to think about.

We have years of experience in building pools and we will be delighted to help you consider all the different issues required to ensure that the final result will look and feel fantastic. The addition of a swimming pool will generally increase the value of a property so it can be a good long-term investment.

Firstly, what type of pool would you like? The choices are many… do you prefer an outdoor pool or an indoor pool where you can enjoy a swim whatever the weather; a pool house, spa facilities, hot tubs… not forgetting terracing, covers to reduce evaporation and security fencing. With water being a precious supply, it’s also worth thinking about recycling water for your pool, reducing the impact on the environment and your bills by installing a below the ground reservoir which will collect rainwater for use during the long summer months.
Finally it’s also important to factor in the necessary time for planning permission. For example, a swimming pool sized between 10m²- 60m² will require a Déclaration Préalable which can take around one month to be approved, plus you will need to allow some time for preparing the documentation.

We hope that this has given you some ideas on the things to consider when planning a pool project for your home in France.

Kiwi Construction delivers professional expertise, exceptional customer service and quality construction to all its’ clients covering the Biarritz, the Pays Basque and Landes departments.