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Outdoor Facilities: In Which Cases Is a Building Permit Compulsory ?

Posted by Michel on September 15, 2021

You own your home and want to design it in the most attractive manner possible in order to maximize the available space. Whether you want to park your vehicle and tools in the garage, add a veranda to extend your living space, or just relax in the pool or on the terrace, the construction of outside arrangements is controlled. Some may just need a simple statement of work, while others will necessitate the submission of a building permit application. Let’s examine what actions you’ll need to do to comply with the law.

Simple declaration of work or building permit?

The difference between a previous declaration of work and a construction permit will, first and foremost, be determined by the scale of your project. Articles 421 et seq. of the Town Planning Code allow for various scenarios:

• There are no steps required for “small projects” with a total area of less than 5m2.

• A previous declaration of work is needed for projects between 5 and 20 m2 (40 m2 in metropolitan areas).

• Building permits are needed for projects larger than 20m2 (40m2 in urban areas). The same is true for constructions that are taller than 12 meters.

Also keep in mind that if your project surpasses 150m2 of floor area, you’ll need to hire an architect.

Two levels of requirement

Simply stated, a previous declaration of work (PD) is a kind of urban planning approval that may be needed for work that does not require a building permit. This enables the town hall, in particular, to plan the buildings and works required for the town’s administration in the medium and long term (water evacuation, waste management, creation of green spaces, etc.).

It may also reject activity that damages the municipality’s town planning strategy or aesthetic coherence.

Towards a comprehensive municipal project

Municipalities were formerly bound by the Land Occupation Plan (POS), which established town planning guidelines for the construction or alteration of existing structures. Municipalities have benefitted from a PLU (Local Urban Planning Plan) since 2000, which is more ambitious than the POS and defines the municipality’s entire development strategy with a view to sustainable development.

As a result, it must be consistent with laws governing urban planning, housing, and transportation. It therefore considers, among other things, the requirements of residents in buildings, the municipality’s overall aestheticism, and the general well-being of its residents. It is the responsibility of the town hall to create, maintain, and change its PLU in accordance with the municipality’s growth. Small towns may occasionally band together behind a common goal and create a global PLU to improve inter-municipal coordination.

Note that if your home is in a classified or protected region, you must additionally contact Bâtiments de France to verify that the materials, forms, and proportions are legal.

The various projects subject to regulation


In the following circumstances, an application for a building permit is required for the installation of a swimming pool in your yard, whether above ground or with foundations:

• if the pool alone has a surface area of more than 100m2;

• if the pool is between 10 and 100m2 and is covered by a permanent or movable shelter with a height of more than 1.8m;

• if the swimming pool is indoor or if the pool enclosure or technical room has a surface area of more than 20m2.

In contrast, no declaration is needed in the event of a pool smaller than 10m2 (jacuzzi) with a cover less than 1.80m high.


According to the regulations outlined above, the surface of the terrace will decide whether a previous declaration or a construction permission is required. However, even if the terrace is less than 20m2, a permission request is required if the height is more than 60 centimeters above ground level.


Regardless of whether the fence is made of plants, mesh, or a wall, a prior declaration of work will be required if:

• the PLU stipulates it;

• the fence’s height is more than or equal to 2 meters

Please keep in mind that the fence must be built on your property, not on the property boundary with your neighbor. In the event of a plant fence, depending on the height of the plantation, a distance from adjacent property must also be observed. Then count two meters for a tree or hedge that will likely grow to be more than two meters tall, and fifty cm for anything else.

Garage / Veranda / Extension / Garden shed / Photovoltaic panels

These configurations merely satisfy the fundamental criteria of the surface and height of the project. Depending on their size, they are thus required to previous declaration or construction permission.

Exterior renovation

The external renovation (maintenance or repair) is not subject to any declaration if it does not alter the look of your house. This is especially true when it comes to restoring or replacing an identical roof, replacing doors and windows, replacing a gutter, or repairing a chimney.

On the other hand, if the renovation includes changing the external look of your home (color, form, or kind of coating), you’ll need permission: depending on its size and features, it may be subject to a previous declaration or a request for a construction permit.

You’ll notice that when it comes to outside installations, the size of the project is the most important factor in deciding the method to follow. Whatever your responsibilities under the general regulations, you must nevertheless check the PLU of the municipality where you are installing to guarantee appropriate compliance with the town planning laws stated there. In terms of colors and materials, what is possible in one place may not be possible in another. Your town hall has all of the information and a comprehensive list of processes, therefore contacting them should be the first step in your project!

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