Applying for a building permit for the construction, transformation or demolition of a building

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Before beginning work to construct, transform, renovate or demolish a building, the interested party must have a building permit (also known as a construction permit), otherwise they may be ordered to stop work.

The permit application must contain information about the owner and the precise location of the land, as well as a description of the planned works.

The building permit application should be sent to the communal administration authorities of the district where the building or cadastral parcel in question is located.

The procedure for issuing building permits may vary, as it is determined by the building regulations, which are specific to each commune.

Who is concerned

Anyone planning to:

  • develop or construct single-family housing units, residential or commercial buildings, garages, annexes, outbuildings, industrial hangars, or administrative buildings;
  • transform, extend or change the intended use of buildings.

Prerequisites

A construction permit is required for:

  • new constructions;
  • extensions, works to increase the height or transform existing buildings, and any other modification to external walls, structural components and roofs, or changes to the intended use of premises;
  • installation of canopies, awnings, and illuminated signs and advertising panels alongside roads and public places;
  • the erection and modification of fencing of any kind alongside public roads or adjacent properties;
  • the construction of wells, water tanks, fodder silos, solid and liquid manure storage pits;
  • demolition works;
  • earthworks and backfilling, as well as the construction of retaining walls;
  • street, pavement and car-park development works;
  • the landscaping open spaces;
  • the installation of storage tanks for liquid fuel and chemical products;
  • the construction of garden sheds, swimming pools and ponds;
  • the installation or replacement of connections to public utility networks (water, drains, gas, etc.);
  • the demolition of existing buildings.

The following works only require a written declaration to be sent to the mayor of the commune no later than10 days before the works begin:

  • major maintenance works inside buildings;
  • replacement of façade facing;
  • roofing works;
  • scaffolding;
  • assembly and transformation of natural gas-powered heating installations.

Deadlines

The length of time required for the issuance of a building permit is not usually specified in the commune's building regulations. Communes' building regulations may be consulted on the Legal portal of the Government.

The building permit lapses if, within one year, no significant progress has been made in connection with the commencement of the authorised works. This time limit may be extended by an additional year following the submission of substantiated request by the beneficiary.

How to proceed

Submitting the application

The permit application is submitted via an application form, which may be obtained from the communal administration authorities in the district where the building in question is located. Several communes offer document downloads on their websites.

Note that document and submission requirements may vary according to commune.

In general, the following must be attached to the application:

  • a recent cadastral extract at a scale of 1:2500 for the parcel in question;
  • a site plan at a scale of 1:2.500 (the scale may vary depending on the commune);
  • constructions plans at a scale of 1:100 or 1:50;
  • the architect's or engineer's certificate of registration with the Order of Architects and Engineers (Ordre des architectes et ingénieurs-conseils - OAI);
  • where applicable, a layout plan at a scale of at least 1:200, showing contour lines, distances between constructions and with respect to boundaries, accesses to buildings, built volumes and the names of the buildings;
  • the name of the special development plan (plan d'aménagement particulier - PAP) or the land parcelling authorisation in relation with the application.

All new residential buildings and, in certain cases, existing residential buildings (in the event of a modification or extension) must comply with minimum energy performance requirements. Consequently, all applications for a permit to construct a new residential building, or to extend or modify an existing residential building, must be accompanied by an energy performance calculation report and an energy performance certificate.

Construction plans must contain:

  • plans for all levels, including basements and attics, showing the roof design. These plans should provide data on ventilation installations, fireplaces and chimneys;
  • longitudinal and transversal cross-sections—which are essential for reviewing the construction project—showing the existing topography of the land and planned modifications to the latter;
  • elevation views of all façades, showing the levels of courtyards, the slopes of public roads, and the façades of existing adjacent constructions.

All plans must be prepared and signed by a practising architect or construction engineer, except in the case of individuals who declare that they wish to transform the interior of a dwelling intended for their own use, provided that such work does not concern the load-bearing structures of the building and does not impact either the façade or the roofing. Plans must also be countersigned by the owner(s) of the building.

Once the required documents have been collected, applicants can submit the building permit application using the standard application form provided by the relevant communal administration authority. A certain number of specialist intermediaries (engineers, architects, etc.) can also provide applicants with assistance in completing the administrative formalities with the commune.

The permit application must be sent to the mayor in writing, in several copies. Works may not be started until the building permit is received.

Processing of the application is subject to a fee to be paid to the communal receiver. The amount of the fee depends on the commune and the size of the project.

The building permit is issued to the applicant against receipt.

Review of application conformity

The communal services check whether the construction applications and related plans are in compliance with the provisions of the general development plan (plan d'aménagement général - PAG)—which comprises a graphic part and a written part—and local building regulations. In so doing, the commune ensures that the planned constructions fit in well with their surroundings and that they are aesthetically consistent with adjacent buildings. The building regulations also aim to improve public health and safety.

In the interest of safeguarding the historical and architectural heritage, or to guarantee harmonious groupings, specific construction or transformation conditions may be imposed. In all cases, before purchasing a parcel of land or planning construction works, it is advisable to seek information from the relevant department in the commune where the land or building is located.

Building permits are granted subject to various conditions, which are specified therein. In particular, buildings intended to accommodate persons for an extended period of time must be connected to mains water, drainage, electricity and gas networks at the owner's expenses. It is generally enough to simply complete a form that can be obtained from the communal administration authorities, or downloaded directly from the commune's website.

Building permits are only issued if the project is compliant with the building regulations, the PAG and the PAP.

Conditions of validity and other required authorisations

The building permit is only valid if the applicant has been granted all necessary authorisations for the road and public infrastructure works required for the construction project to be viable.

The building permit does not exempt the applicant from obtaining other related authorisations that might be necessary, especially if land or a building is being acquired;

  • a road-works permit: a road-works permit is required for any construction or transformation work conducted alongside government roads at a distance of up to 10 m for local roads (chemins repris - CR) and up to 10 or 25 m, depending on the case, for national roads (N). These distances are established from the boundary of the applicant's property;
  • an operating permit—also know as a commodo-incommodo permit—for listed establishments; certain types of establishments require such an operating permit. The building permit only takes effect when the 2 operating permit orders from the Inspectorate of Labour and Mines (Inspection du travail et des mines) and the Environment Agency (Administration de l'environnement) have been issued;
  • authorisations with regard to the protection of nature and natural resources;
  • deforestation/clearing permits; a deforestation/clearing permit from the Nature and Forestry Agency (Administration de la nature et des forêts) is required when land with a surface area of more than 2 ha is to be cleared/deforested;
  • authorisations concerning national sites and monuments;
  • permits from the CFLs or the Department of Transport (Département des transports) of the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Infrastructure (Ministère du Développement durable et des Infrastructures).

Monitoring of works by the building inspectors

When the construction of the walls, interior partitions, ceilings, stairs and roof coverings has been completed, the owner must apply in writing to the commune for acceptance of the structural works by the corresponding building inspectors (police des bâtissses).

The finishing works may not begin before the structural works have been approved.

If the building inspectors do not raise any objections in writing within 3 weeks of their inspection, the construction is deemed compliant with the building permit and finishing works may commence.

Work completed after the building permit is granted and which impacts energy performance

If after the construction permit is granted, adaptations are made which do not require the building permit to be modified, but which have an impact on energy performance, a new energy performance calculation report and a new energy passport must be established and submitted for informational purposes to the competent authority for building permits.

It is not mandatory to obtain an energy passport when carrying out significant modification or transformation works if:
  • the works concern less than 10% of the surface area of any one building envelope component (e.g., external walls, roof, windows, flooring);
  • the cost of the works relating to technical installations is less than EUR 1,500.00 (single family buildings) or EUR 3,000.00 (multifamily buildings).

Schedule for continued improvement of energy performance

A schedule has been established for the ongoing improvement of the energy performance of residential buildings with regard to maximum energy usage indices (which will depend, among other things, on the compactness of the building).

Schedule for ongoing improvement of the energy performance of residential buildings
Date on which new residential buildings must meet the set energy performance requirements Thermal insulation class Energy performance class
1 July 2012 C B
1 January 2015 B A
1 January 2017 A A

Extensions to residential buildings with an energy reference surface area of more than 80 m2 must comply with the aforementioned criteria. Extensions of less than 80 m2 must comply with stricter values.

From 1 January 2019, residential buildings' energy consumption levels must be practically zero.

Who to contact

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