Renovating in France Planning Permission Requirements

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Whether or not you need planning permission for your renovation in France depends on what you are going to do.

Applying for Planning permits in France

A good starting place is the local town hall, and, even if you think you don’t need permission, it’s usually best to check, rules change. The Mayor or his staff should be able to tell you whether or not you have to get permits signed off or if you can simply declare the works for your renovation project. They can also provide the necessary forms and make you aware of local restrictions or regulations. And, they’ll tell you where you need to go if there are further permits required such as the DDE, the Departmental Directorates for Equipment who control some aspects of permission granting.

If you’re buying a house and you know that you will need to request planning permission then before completing the sale process check with the notaire to ensure there are no planning restrictions in the area. If you know you are going to require planning permission, after you have paid the deposit but before you pay the full amount, you can ask the notaire conducting your purchase to apply for planning permission and insert a clause in the purchase contract that if permission is not granted, you can withdraw without financial penalty (including retrieval of your deposit).

Planning permits for updating the interior

Interior work on an existing house doesn’t require a permit – unless a change of purpose is involved e.g. converting a loft or outbuilding, creating a bathroom etc. The reason for this is that the conversion of space may mean that you need to pay more tax as you have more facilities in the house, eg a bathroom.

If the habitable space being created exceeds 170m², you need to employ an architect; this includes extending the current liveable area, e.g. if you have 150m² and converting an outbuilding adds 21m² or more. The architect will draw up the plans, liaise with the planning department and make life easier for you when it comes to form filling.

Planning Permits for Updating the Exterior

When it comes to exterior work, you need permission if you intend to change the appearance, including colour, such as painting shutters, doors, windows, walls, or if you intend using a different material e.g. render. Repairs don’t need a permit but amending the appearance whilst conducting repairs does, for example repairing a roof/adding a roof.

What’s the fosse all about? If your property comes with a fosse septique (septic tank) arrangement for waste water etc, make sure you know where it is. New regulations state that if you don’t know the location, you’ll have to put in a new one and that’s a big expense. If the seller can’t confirm location, this may be a chance for price negotiations. Estate agents are aware of this requirement but many brush buyers’ fears away – don’t be fooled.

Septic tanks: Permission is required to install a new one and you will probably need a survey conducted plus completion sign off.

Helpful words and phrases

Permis de démolir – Demolitions permit
Certificat d’urbanisme (CU) – Outline planning/planning in principle
Déclaration préalable – Minor works, this planning form supersedes the Déclaration de travaux
Permis de construire (PC) – Planning application for a building permit, an architect must be employed to submit this form.
Déclaration d’ouverture de chantier – Commence work on site
SHOB (surface hors œuvre brut) – gross floor area

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