Planning in France

The following paragraphs should give you the answers to the most frequently asked questions on ‘do I need permission and if so what ‘ but before we go on we must make you aware of another very important document – the Certificat d’Urbanisme.

If you wish to extend your house by up to 20m2 you will use a Déclaration Préalable.  HOWEVER – If the total floor are ( all floors ) or footprint of the building (s) is or will be more than 150m2 the application will become a Permis de Construire and must be created and submitted by a member of the Ordre des Architectes in France.



This is normally applied for during the purchase process of any property in France. The purchaser should insist that the notaire or estate agent applies for one and the grant of which will be a condition ‘suspensi’f in the initial compromis de vente.

If you are intending to extend/alter/change the use of all or any part of the property you are intending to buy you need to ensure that what you intend to do is included in the certificat application.

THERE ARE TWO TYPES OF ‘Certificat d’urbanisme’

A – gives you details of the planning zone the property is in and what taxes etc will be levied on it.

B – gives you ‘outline ‘ permission, subject to the submission of a Permis de Construire dossier, to do what you have applied for.

Most people who are intending to do anything to the property need type B (operational). Be very aware – if your Notaire only applies for a type A you could find yourself being committed to buying a property that you cannot change in any way !


Used for minor works such as installing windows, doors, roof lights, renovating external render, constructions under 20sq metres. Etc.


This is planning consent for the plans submitted etc


Do I need permission and if so what …

For an individual habitation the period is set at two months from date of receipt of the application. If there are any details missing from the application the authorities have one month from date of submission to notify you.

The two month period starts from the date they have a complete application.

For all other projects the period is three months.

If the project is within 500 metres of a listed building, church, graveyard, cross , area of beauty or any other structure of architectural or historical interest then the Architectes de Bâtiment de France get to have a say in the decision – in which case the decision period can be anything up to six months. However do not despair we have had them turned around in 5 weeks !

Certain works do not need a Permis de Construire but a Déclaration Préalable – for example : Creations of less than 20m2

: Swimming pools of less than 100 m2

More on this subject later !

You can appeal but normally only on the basis that the authorities have not followed the system.

You can modify your proposals and submit a new application.

Please note that the system will not allow you to modify certain parts of a refused application and still keep the same application number. Once it has been refused you will have to start with a new application and the timescale for approval starts all over again.

I want to build a house – Permis de Construire
I want to enlarge my house – More than 20m2 – Permis de Construire
Between 2 & 20m2 – Déclaration Préalable
Less than 2 m2 – No permission necessary
I want to construct a garage of 11 m2 with a normal roof – Déclaration Préalable
I want to do works to my existing house which does not create any more floor space or modify the external appearance – No permission necessary
I want to do work on my existing house and create a new opening in the outside wall – Déclaration Préalable
I am the owner of a dwelling and I want to give the external walls a facelift – Déclaration Préalable
I want to reorganize the interior of my building without changing the use of any part of it – No permission necessary
I want to remove the existing floors and create new floor surfaces –
If the reconstructed floor is smaller than 2m2 – No permission necessary

If the reconstructed floor is between 2m2 and 20m2 – Déclaration Préalable

If the reconstructed floor is 20mé or more – Permis de Construire

a, The bedroom is bigger than 10m2 – Déclaration Préalable

b, The bedroom is smaller than 10m2 AND you do not modify the exterior appearance of the building – No permission necessary

a, It is a retaining wall – No permission necessary

b, Wall is less than 2 metres high – No permission necessary

c, Wall is over 2metres high – Déclaration Préalable

d, The fence is in a protected sector or in a commune where there are controls on fences – Déclaration Préalable

e, The fence is anywhere else – No permission necessary

I have a roof terrace and I want to put an enclosed roof over it –
If there is no additional floor area produced , just a change in volume – Déclaration Préalable

I want to change the surface of my roof without increasing the volume of the space beneath it ie a velux to light an existing space – without changing the use of the space Déclaration Préalable
I want to raise a part of the roof surface to create a window ie you want to insert a dormer that does not touch the floor – Déclaration Préalable
I want to lower a portion of the wall under the roof to create a dormer that touches the floor – Permis de Construire

a, Overall area over 20 m2 Permis de Construire

b, Overall area less than 20 m2 Déclaration Préalable

a, height less than 1.8 metres – No permission necessary

b, Over 1.8 but less than 4.0 metres high and less than 2000m2 area – Déclaration Préalable

c, Over 1.8 metres high and over 2000m2 – Permis de Construire

d, Over 4 metres high – Permis de Construire

In ground more than 10m2 less than 100m2

a, It will not have a cover – Déclaration Préalable

b, It has a cover to keep the heat in or for security – Déclaration Préalable

c, It has a sliding cover height more than 1.8 metres above the water level – Permis de Construire

d, It has a fixed cover more than 2.0 metres high – Permis de Construire

a, Less than 10 m2 – No permission necessary

b,More than 10m2 but up for less than 3 months – No permission necessary

c, More than 10m2 and up for more than 3 months – Déclaration Préalable.

If you do not change the volume of the building, just the external appearance – Déclaration Préalable

a, Windmill of less than 12 metres in height – No permission necessary

b, Windmill of more than 12 metres in height – Permis de Construire

c, Solar panels – no creation of extra floor area and less than 12 metres in height – No permission necessary BUT the local plan may ban solar panels to protect the visual environment !

d, Solar panels more than 12 metres in height OR installed on an existing building – Déclaration Préalable

a, for less than 3 months per year – No permission necessary

b, More than 3 months per year , consecutive or not – Déclaration Préalable

a, It is stored on my land and to be used for my holidays – No permission necessary

b, It will be a fixed installation ( wheels removed ) – Permis de Construire if stationary for more than 3 months.

a, On a designated camping site – Authorised

b, In my garden or on my land – NOT AUTHORISED