Les Compagnons Bâtisseurs (Master Builders) help residents in priority neighborhoods renovate their homes

The association Compagnons Bâtisseurs is experimenting with the self-help approach to home renovation in five urban priority areas

Rennes, Roubaix, Sarcelles, Bordeaux et Avignon
2017 to 2019


Project description

For over 60 years, the National Association of the Compagnons Bâtisseurs has been defending the universal need for decent housing. Building on each person’s contribution, it helps disadvantaged neighborhood residents renovate their own housing by promoting mutual help and cooperation.

This project was launched as part of the New National Urban Renewal Programme (NPNRU) that aims to rehabilitate 200 priority neighborhoods by 2024. As a complement to heavy urban renewal operations, the association will help residents renovate their homes, acquire new eco-habits, and make good use of community goods and facilities.

The project will also act as a platform for citizen engagement and learning for young volunteers completing their Community Service (French national volunteer service), who will take part in renovation works alongside residents.

After helping the association occasionally via its subsidiaries since 2015, the Rexel Foundation decided to financially support this new project at the national level.


The first objective of the project is to test the self-help approach to housing renovation at five priority urban sites via a series of field actions:

  • Conducting assisted self-renovation works at the homes of residents facing severe difficulties.
  • Leading collective training and mutual help sessions with the beneficiaries and their neighbors via weekly practical courses (DIY, maintenance and housing-related budget management), maintenance visits or hands-on repairs, tool loans, etc.
  • Improving energy management in beneficiaries’ homes and supporting the adoption of eco-gestures.
  • Accompanying young non-graduates from priority neighborhoods enrolled in Community Service, allowing them, upon completion of their engagement, to gain access to vocational training and a job as assistant technical leader.

The second objective of the project is to assess the results and social impact of the experiment on four different levels:

  • The individual impact on the household and the way it uses its housing
  • The impact on the relationship between social housing providers and residents, as well as on the social housing assets
  • The collective impact on community life in the area
  • The impact on the residents’ involvement and application, as well as the impact of the Urban Renewal Plan itself.


Last but not least, its third objective aims to roll out the experiment across the NPNRU. A more in-depth analysis of the business model will be conducted in collaboration with national and local actors in order to validate its reproducibility and scalability.  

Find out more about "Les Compagnons bâtisseurs"

The association Les Compagnons Bâtisseurs, present on the national level for more than 50 years, aids those suffering from substandard housing by helping them to remodel or build their homes themselves with the assistance of a technical leader and volunteers. The organization also facilitates the economic integration of those in need within the building sector through work-integration and training projects. Finally, it welcomes volunteers and young Community Service participants, who contribute to the management and leadership of its network.

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