The building permit in France

Updated on

The building permit makes it possible to undertake any new construction (such as a house) but extension works for an area greater than 20 sqm or work for historical monuments.




The building permit is an urban planning authorization issued by the town hall of the municipality where the project is located. It concerns new constructions (such as the construction of a house), even without a foundation, with more than 20m2 of floor area or footprint. Extension works and certain changes in the use of the premises are also subject to the building permit application procedure.

The law dated November 23, 2018, known as the ELAN law, provides that all municipalities with more than 3,500 inhabitants must, from January 1, 2022, have dematerialized procedures to receive and process requests for planning permission and certificates of 'town planning.

What is a building permit?

The building permit is a mandatory planning permission. The building permit allows in particular to build any new construction that is not relieved of formality or not subject to prior notification (such as a house).

Several town planning rules need to be respected.  For example, a house intended to be rented or sold must respect accessibility rules. On the other hand, if the construction of the single-family house is to be used as a dwelling, you do not have to comply with this regulation. Do not hesitate to consult an architect to find out if the project can be possible to implement.

Note: The use of an architect is mandatory for a construction project if the floor area exceeds 150 m2. The use of an architect is also necessary for all expansion projects subject to planning permission for a floor area or footprint of the existing construction of more than 150 m2.

Exception: Note that when the building is located in the urban area of town covered by a PLU or a POS, a building permit is required only if the work added a floor surface or hold superior ground 40 sqm or if they add 20 to 40 sqm of floor area or footprint and have the effect of increasing the total construction area beyond 150 sqm. It should be noted that since 1 March 2017, natural persons who "erect or modify other constructions" must have recourse to an architect if the construction exceeds 150 sqm. Previously, this formality was only mandatory if the floor area of the property concerned was more than 170 sqm.

Only exceptions to the rule: if the building permit in question concerns agricultural constructions or production greenhouses.

Building permit: what steps? what time?

The building permit application must be made using:

  • cerfa n° 13406 * 07 for an individual house
  • a teleservice.

The request for a building permit sent to the town hall by the owner of the land must include certain documents :

  • the cerfa form,
  • the declaration of the required elements for calculating taxes
  • the list of attachments,
  • the site plan,
  • the ground plane,
  • the torque plan of the land,
  • the notice,
  • the plan of the facades and roofs,
  • the graphic document,
  • photos to locate the land in its near and far environment.

In mainland France, the building permit application must also include a certificate that thermal regulations have been taken into account.

The town hall issues a receipt upon receipt of your permit application. In the case of an incomplete file, the town hall has one month to claim the missing documents from you.

The processing time for the permit application file for a house and its annexes is 2 months. The town hall has 3 months for other projects.

Building permits, which are issued by the mayor on behalf of the Commune or State depending on whether or not a local development plan exists. It constitute authorisation for work that must begin within three years of issue after which time the work may not be disrupted for more than one year.

This period of three years may, however, be subject to an extension. The original period of validity and can be extended twice for a period of one year. In many cases, unless notification is received from the administrative authorities, a permit can be obtained tacitly, i.e. without the mayor having to issue an order. The request for an extension must be sent to the town hall 2 months before the expiry of the permit.

However, the absence of a response can also mean an implied refusal. This is the case for a project which is subject to the agreement of the architect of buildings of France when he has issued an unfavorable or favorable opinion with provisions.

Building permit: decision of the Town Hall

The building permit is granted if the works of the construction project comply with the town hall planning rules.

The display of the building permit on the site is mandatory. The display should be visible from the street throughout the building work, and include specifications relating to the building project:

  • the name of the license holder (the corporate name or corporate name for a business),
  • the name of the architect author of the project,
  • the date of issue of the permit and its number,
  • the nature of the project and the area of the land,
  • the address of the town hall where the file can be consulted,
  • legal notices of legal remedies

Depending on the situation of the land (subdivision, etc.), other elements may need to be indicated.

Also, within eight days of its express or tacit delivery, an extract of the permit is published by posting to the mayor for two months. The lack of posting does not make the authorization illegal, but allows for litigation during the duration of the work and up to 6 months after its completion.

Third parties can consult the file at the town hall and contest it with a free appeal

The administrative authorities have three months in which to inspect the said work (this period may be extended to five months in certain areas or certain buildings)­. As, unless otherwise specified, building permits are not issued according to the specific person who files the application but to the characteristics of the land concerned, they are transferrable. Though a permit issued to a farmer for the needs of his operation, and therefore granted in consideration of the person of the beneficiary, can not be transferred to another operator­.

As the consequences of failure to obtain a building permit or to comply with standards are extremely serious (this may even lead to demolishing the building), the notaire plays an essential role when a deed is signed.

The notaire alone is liable for checking not only that a building permit exists but also that it is valid, at least in terms of legal requirements. The notaire questions the seller and requests all the necessary documents which he then checks. He informs the parties of the slightest anomalies and asks them to remedy the situation. The notaire guarantees certainty of ownership.