Whether you’re planning to convert outbuildings or install a new swimming pool, Arthur Cutler explains the nuts and bolts of the French planning process.
What is the planning application process like in France?
We aim to convert an outbuilding at our home in Vendée. Can you please provide a basic outline of the planning process here in France?
I’m going to begin with my favourite expression to answer this – “it depends”! There are a number of things to consider or verify before the process for your particular project can be determined. Amongst other things, planning consent is required for any of the following:
- A change to the external appearance of a property requires consent
- A change to the external footprint (eg. extension) requires consent
- A change to the habitable space – eg. barn conversion, creating a mezzanine, extending the existing building
The first thing to check is whether the commune in which your property is located has a local plan. If so, that can be consulted to see whether there are any reasons why planning consent would not be granted, or any restrictions that may apply. If the property is within a “protected zone”, or close to a working farm building, these may also affect what is possible, and in the case of protected zones, certain architectural designs and features may be either imposed or forbidden.
On the assumption that the conversion is feasible, then it is likely that you will need to prepare and submit an application for a permis de construire, with a full set of scale plans and drawings, site plan, etc. If you are not on mains drainage, then any existing septic tank system will also need to be upgraded or replaced to ensure it is capable of dealing with the increased accommodation levels. You can see here for more information on the process.
Do we need an architect to plan our pool installation?
We intend to have a swimming pool installed by summer 2023 at our gîte complex here in the Aude. Do we need to employ a designer or architect to plan it out or will the swimming pool company do all this?
Many pool installers will deal with the official design and planning requirements, and submit the application on your behalf, but not all. Consent is required for any pool (whether above-ground or in-ground!) where the surface area exceeds 10 m². For any pool below 100m², a déclaration préalable is required. Anything over 100m² requires a full permis de construire. If you intend to house the pool in a building or other structure, then that can affect the type of application, and the taxes payable! It is worth checking in advance that your property is not in a zone where swimming pools are prohibited before you commit as it isn’t always possible (local regulations sometimes prohibit pools).
How do we check the condition of the electrics in an old French house?
When buying a dilapidated old house in France, how can the buyer go about checking the condition of the electrics ?
As part of the purchase process, the seller is obliged to undertake a number of diagnostic reports, one of which is the electrical installation. That will highlight any defects and requirements to bring the system up to French norms. It won’t provide any costings, but the report can be given to local electricians for quotation purposes. If fully renovating, it is better to consider a complete re-wire than carry out a series of changes to specific defects.
French Plans is a fully bilingual nationwide architectural and planning service. Director Arthur Cutler has over 20 years’ experience of solving French building conundrums
For more information about French Plans, visit www.frenchplans.com
To enquire about renovations, new builds or conversion projects, call +33 (0)2 96 36 56 16, +33 (0)685 993 248 or email [email protected]
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