The building permit in France

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.

What is a building permit?

The building permit is a mandatory planning permission. It 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).

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?

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.

Building permit: decision of the Town Hall

The permit must be displayed on the land, be visible from the street throughout the building work, and include specifications relating to the building project, and the rules and deadline applicable to recourse, which may be made within two months of the sign being displayed. 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. Upon completion of the work authorised by the permit, the permit holder must file a declaration certifying that the work has been completed in compliance with the specifications.

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 .

Frequently asked questions