French property law: prior declaration of works

Generally required to carry out minor developments, the prior declaration is an administrative act which gives the administration the means to check that your construction project is in keeping with the town planning rules in force.

A prior declaration of work is mandatory in the following cases (Articles R 421-9 to R 421-12 and R 421-17-1 of the Town Planning Code)

  • New constructions (garage, dependency, etc.) or works on an existing construction which leads to the creation of a floor area or a floor space of between 5 m2 and 20 m2. To work on an existing construction, this threshold is increased to 40 m² if the construction is located in an urban area covered by "a local urban plan" PLU or "a land use plan"
  • Small country residences with a floor area of over 35 m².
  • Structures and accessories for electric power distribution lines whose voltage is less than 63,000 volts.
  • Walls whose height above the ground is greater than or equal to 2 m.
  • Swimming pools whose pool has an area less than or equal to 100 m2 and which are not covered or whose cover, fixed or mobile, has a height above the ground, which is less than 1.80 m.
  • Frames and greenhouses whose height above the ground is between 1.80 m and 4 m, and whose floor area does not exceed 2000 m2 on the same property unit.
  • Electricity production works from solar energy with a peak power less than or equal to 250 KW.
  • The pools necessary for agricultural activity whose basin has an area greater than 10 m2 and less than or equal to 100 m2.
  • When the constructions are located within the perimeter of remarkable heritage sites "SPR", in the vicinity of historic monuments, in a classified site or those pending classification: those which result in the creation of a floor surface and with a footprint of less than or equal to 20 m2, infrastructures generating electricity from solar energy installed on the ground with a peak power of less than 3 KW, the walls regardless of their height, the fences…
  • Work modifying the initial exterior appearance of a building, for example: replacing a window or a door with another model, drilling a new window, or the choice of a new paint color for the facade. 
  • Changes in the destination of a premises (for example, the transformation of a commercial premises into a residential premises) without changing the supporting structures or the facade of the building.
  • Work renovations carried out in protected areas, for example: within the perimeter of a remarkable heritage site, the surroundings of historic monuments or in a classified site.

Decision of the town hall and response time

The prior declaration does not exempt you from requesting the authorizations provided for by texts other than the Town Planning Code (for example, for co- ownership accommodation, certain developments require the approval of a general assembly).

The processing time is (with some exceptions) one month from the filing date of the application (if the file is complete and with some exceptions).

At the end of this period, the competent authority may issue a certificate of non-opposition to the prior declaration or object to the prior declaration. If it remains silent, this silence translates into the tacit decision of non-opposition. In this case, a certificate of non-opposition can be issued through a simple request.

Frequently asked questions