Now that you have bought your new Property in the Languedoc, and are planning to renovate it, spare a thought to some of the legal requirements.
Garden sheds, conservatories, garages under 20sq metres or external changes such as swapping windows or doors will only require a declaration de travaux, not a permis de construire.
Planning Structure?Planning is administered at a regional and local level with the same standard application forms used across France. The Maire will provide the key documents including building permit applications (demande de Permis de Construire) and the Plan d'Ocupations des Sols (POS) for the planning zone of your property.
Developments over 170 meters of net habitable space (SHON)?The law states that a request for a Building Permit (Permis de Construire) cannot be investigated unless a qualified registered architect has "established the architectural project", that is, prepared the plans and written documents, shown site plans, volume and layout, sections, and elevation treatment, as well as choice of materials. Buildings of less than 170 square meters SHON (net habitable space) owned by persons who want to build for themselves do not need the plans to be submitted by an architect. (C. Urb. Art. L421-2)
Advice and Clarification
Definitions as to what constitutes habitable space are precise and clear, however, when applied to a particular situation clarification can be required. Within each Direction Departementale de l'Equipment (DDE) their exists an architecte conseille who will have the jurisdiction of your commune and, free of charge, will provide advice on the type of building permit required, explain and expand on the POS and confirm if your project constitutes more than 170 square meters of net habitable space and therefore require the services of an architect.
To arrange a meeting with an architecte conseille contact the DDE by phone first, never arrive unannounced and remember that their time is precious and ultimately they will examine the building permit upon submission for compliance with the POS.
Take photos of the existing development together with plans and elevations of your proposals and a site plan; if you want to convert a derelict building be precise regarding its future use and learn the technical planning language of the POS before the meeting or have someone with you who can translate.
Architectes des Batiment du France?There exists within the law a requirement to "establish the architectural project" this is an important concept because as well as conforming with the POS there is a obligation for all building permits (Permis de Construire) to be evaluated by the Architectes des Batiment du France for their architectural merit.
If your property is more than 500 meters from a historic monument, a development can comply with all the technical standards of the POS but receive a recommendation for rejection on architectural grounds by the Architectes des Batiment du France. In this situation the local Marie decides whether permission is granted or refused
If your property is within 500 meters of a listed site, building or historic monument then your project comes under the separate legislation of historic monuments and in this situation the local Marie cannot overrule any refusal or condition stipulated by the Architectes des Batiment du France.
A Certificate d'Urbanism is an approval "in principal" subject to the granting of a Permis de Construire. This is particularly important for those who are in the process of purchasing a property to note because their development must still comply with the POS and pass before the Architectes des Batiment du France. An approval "in principal" does not guarantee a Permis de Construire.
Change of use of a building?If you own a building and want to convert it from a garage/storage to a house or gîtes then there is little point in applying for a Certificate d'urbanism and certainly no obligation to submit a Certificate d'Urbanism prior to a Permis de Construire.
Types of Permis de Construire (Building Permits)
The Permis de Construire is the main instrument of planning control. There are three types: one application for an individual house, one for general purposes and one for amendments to the others. If you wish to make amendments to your design following the approval of your Permis de Construire, then you must submit a Permis de Construire modificatif. It is crucial that the building work that is undertaken upon completion complies with the work described in the Permis de Construire or the Permis de Construire modificatif.
Three types of building permits
0. Demande de permis de construire: for general-purpose PC.
0. Demande de permis de construire une maison indivduelle: request to construct or modify a private dwelling.
0. Demande de permis de construire modificatif: request for minor amendments to an existing permis de construire
There are some very minor works that do not require a Permis de Construire, relevant domestic examples are as follows:
0. terraces less than 0.6 meters high
0. walls of a height of less than 2 meters (without prejudice to the regulations referring specifically to enclosures/fences)
0. any work whose ground surface is less than 2 square meters and whose height is no more than 1.5 meters from the ground.
There are some very minor works that do not require a Permis de Construire but do require a declaration de travaux, relevant domestic examples are as follows:
0. uncovered swimming pools
0. greenhouses and frames between 1.5 meters and 4 meters high and less than 2,000 square meters on the same land
0. constructions or works that does not change the future use of an existing building, not creating a new storey, or not creating additional floor space of more than 20 square meters.
A separate additional permit demade de permit de demolir is required for all demolitions or part demolitions of buildings; this must be submitted simultaneously as the Permis de Construire.
If you wish to cut down trees then the relevant permit for this is the demande de permit d'autorisation de coupe ou d'abbatage d'arbes
Processes & Responsibilities
Liability:?It is the land owner's responsibility to ensure that all applicable building permits are submitted for the construction work undertaken; there is no fee to submit any of the development permits described above, however, the tax payable on your property will be directly affected by any development.
Who makes the application?: ?An application for a Permis de Construire must be made by the owner of the land, by someone mandated by him (their representative), or by a person with a title permitting building or by a person able to benefit from the expropriation of the land for public utility.
0. Domestic situation:?The application is signed by the owner of the land or the person mandated on their behalf, if the 170-meter rule applies the architect stamps the application as well. Four copies of the application are submitted together with four copies of the technical dossier, it is not uncommon for each page of the technical dossier to be stamped by the architect
Submitting the demande de permis de construire: ?The application is submitted either by hand or by registered letter to the local Maire, a receipt (decharge) will be issued; the application will be administered within two months of your receipt (decharge) or the date of your registered letter.
A letter of notification will be sent following submission with the application number; after an examination to ascertain the correct information has been presented, details of the request will be posted in the Town Hall. The application will be verified for compliance with the POS and then sent out for consultations to the Architectes des Batiment du France, police, highways, fire service et al and a decision is made. A tacit approval may be assumed two months from the date of submission and the Permis de Construire will normally be delivered within three.
Permission:?The Mairie or state can grant full or conditional permission. Construction must commence within two years of issue of the permit.
When work starts you submit a Declaration d'ouverture de chantier (declaration the work has commenced). The authorities have the right to inspect the works to ascertain conformity with the terms of the Permis de Construire. The Permis de Construire has to be displayed on a panonceau or panel at the entrance to the site so that third parties can object if you have failed to take their interests into account when you applied.
After completion of the work you have 30 days to enter a declaration that you have completed the work to the terms of the Permis de Construire the form for this is the Declaration d'achevement des travaux. Within 3 months the authorities will send a certificat de conformite. (from France AngloInfo)