In France ‘English type’ Structural Surveys are almost unknown, and thus are rarely offered by French Estate Agents as houses are ‘Sold as seen’. There is not even a word for “Surveyor”! The nearest being ‘Expert de Bâtiment’.
Traditionally, obvious defects, like cracked walls for example, were referred to a local builder for an opinion. This is less common now as builders are rarely inclined to give free advice. You have to pose the question, how independent is a local builder who may know the agent and the vendor quite well?
There is a legal requirement for a vendor of a property to provide the purchaser (and the Notaire) with a range of Diagnostic Reports.
If you would like to have a UK style survey on your future home, it would have to be with the permission of the present owners, we have to remind you though, that it is for your own personal peace of mind and that it carries no legal weight in the French system.
We recommend Tim Bowen from Brittany Architectural Services and/or Nick Warner from Wellesley House Surveys.