Building permits and verandas: focus on the legislation

In France, there are numerous regulations governing individual constructions. This legislation – which is sometimes complex – aims to prevent uncontrolled urban development. All this while ensuring a good degree of safety and health for old, new and renovated buildings.
Any type of verandas is not exempt from this regulation. Whether it is an extension of the house, a bioclimatic veranda, an aluminium, wood or PVC equipment, the verandas are subject to the same legislation as any habitable construction.

First priority: consult and comply with the PLU

The Local Town Planning defines the building rules of a municipality or of a grouping of communes. Since 2001, it gradually replaces the former Land Use Plan POS.

The PLU provides a local framework for the construction rules, extension or renovation of public and private buildings, particularly detached houses. It sets out the construction possibilities, by means of a map stipulating the zones where construction is authorised, and if necessary, the applicable constructability rules. More generally, the PLU determines the building rules of the municipality. It can be the architectural style to be respected, the forms and materials to be used, the maximum floor area, or the distance from the neighbourhood.

The veranda is considered by the PLU as a permanent construction and not as a mobile facility. It is legally an extension of the house. As such, its construction is strictly under the rules and limitations of the local PLU.

Construction of a veranda: preliminary declaration or a building permit application

The verandas follow the same rules as all perennial constructions, such as house extensions, furnished outbuildings, etc. Below 5m2 of floor space, and as long as the PLU is respected, no administrative steps are required. However, this type of construction remains extremely rare, as verandas are generally much larger.

Until recently, verandas with a floor area of less than 20m2 only required a preliminary declaration to the town hall. Beyond this dimension, it is necessary to apply for a building permit, which will be evaluated by the municipal services. In recent years, most PLUs have extended this delimitation between preliminary declaration and the building permit application to 40m2.

However, we must be careful! Some PLUs maintain a limit of 20m2, or any other value justified by local needs. This is often the case, too, of municipalities managed by a communal map or the RNU (National Urban Planning Regulations) rather than by the PLU.

véranda qui a été déclarée avant d'être installée

Steps to be taken for the veranda

Administrative procedures can often be frightening, particularly because of the sometimes obscure language and references. In the following paragraphs, we will come back to the different steps to be taken in most cases.

For the Preliminary Declaration

If the project involves a simple preliminary declaration of work, it is necessary to complete the document CERFA 13.703*03. The latter can be downloaded from the website www.service-public.fr or obtained directly in the town hall.

Once the file is completed, it is advisable to hand it over to the town-planning services, either in person or by registered mail. In the absence of a refusal within a time frame mentioned at the submission date, the agreement is tacit. However, the declaration of works is valid for two years. Beyond that, if the work has not started, a new preliminary declaration must be made beforehand.

véranda sur mesure respectant les réglementations

For a building permit

The procedure for obtaining a building permit differs little from the preliminary declaration. The document to be obtained from the town hall or on the Internet is CERFA 13.406*03, this time. It must be completed and submitted to the town hall in the same way as the preliminary declaration. However, four copies are required in the case of a building permit application.

If the city council gives its consent, the validity of the building permit is usually three years. If the town hall refuses to grant the permit, it is possible to make an amicable appeal, or even a judicial appeal.

Do I Need an Architect?

In most municipalities, the use of an architect is compulsory if the floor area of the house, including extensions, exceeds 150m2, but the limit may be higher depending on the PLU. If the construction of a veranda exceeds this limit, then it also becomes necessary to involve an architect in the project.

What are the risks if the regulations are not respected?

Violating town planning regulations is a criminal offence. The minimum fine is €1,200, but can be increased to €300,000. It all depends on the damage and nuisance caused by a construction that does not comply with the PLU, particularly with regard to the neighbourhood, or the aesthetic coherence of the neighbourhood. In some cases, an obligation to demolish the non-compliant structure may be required.