Planning permissions pre purchase

Hi Everyone!

Question about planning permissions for the people who have chosen to self build - is it common to hold off on a purchase of a plot until you get an idea whether the plan you have for it would be accepted by the local authorities or do people usually buy plots they like and adjust their building plans as much as is needed to get accepted after purchase?

Do local French authorities usually form a big problem when presenting them your building plan?
I’m particularly interested if planning for multiple houses on a plot is often problematic (1 large house and 2 bungalows).

Thank you!

Frankly… anyone thinking of buying a plot to build on… (whatever)… would do well to speak with the Mairie… to discover exactly what would/would not be acceptable.

It is quite common for would-be buyers to discuss beforehand… and the advice from the Mairie can make or break the decision to buy the land…

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Got you, so the “advice” from the Mairie can be seen as a pretty solid prelude to the official decision once the plan is submitted?

Righto… the Secretaire… should be au fait with Planning/Urbanisation etc… if not ask her who is… (depends on the size of the Mairie…

Outline what you are thinking of and ask if it would be favourably considered… or does it obviously go against… whatever…

The Secretaire/whoever should be able to talk this through with some confidence… OR/and phone “higher-up” and get some advice from them…

Sometimes one might be advised… “do this/change that… and get the application in NOW as changes are in the pipeline…” (that can be very useful info)

Sometimes one is told “absolutely NO”… or “absolutely no problem” and all sorts in between.

Just go and discuss… make an appointment if necessary… as talks in detail will take time… and make a friend of the Maire… too.

However, if a project is very important… it is worth getting the Plans submitted asap and having the Purchase dependent on them being Passed.

Fab, thanks again for your advice, Stella!

Talk to the notaire about whether there would be the possibility for a conditional clause - ie would the sellers accept this. Also be aware that French planners are quite conservative (small c), so if you are thinking of something very unusual you might have more problems. And depending on the size and location of the land more than one house could be an issue. It is worth looking at your local plan to get an idea of the local thinking.

Contrary to Stella’s great experience of her Marie, ours is hopeless when it comes to planning and the secretary clueless. They are all different.

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If your Secretaire is not able to help… she should advise which Mairie/Dept Office will be able to help…( I’m sure you would never simply take no for an answer…:upside_down_face:)

In fact it is “fair comment” that not all Mairies are alike … some are so small that not much is spent on Training… and thus the office might be considered almost useless … while others equally small, spend on Training to offer a professional service … :hugs:

However small, though… … ALL Mairies will have the telephone number/address/email or whatever … of the various Experts/Decision-Makers etc etc… and the rest is down to the person making the Enquiry… :grinning::relaxed::upside_down_face:

No matter what the experience of the secretary or maire, the mairie will have the Carte Communal at their disposal and should be able to advise, based on that, the likely fate of a request for planning permission. If the land does not fall inside the appropriate zone, your chances of getting any permission whatsoever is zilch.


Absolutely… a very basic Yes or No… whether a plot has building permission…

But if the answer is Yes… that’s when the fine-tuning of an Application comes in… especially when hoping to build more than one dwelling on a plot… :thinking: (eg: 1 large house and 2 bungalows)

The devil is in the detail… :zipper_mouth_face:

There are two different issues here though; firstly, is the land constructible, and secondly, will your specific plans be approved. A sale can be conditional on the land being constructible, because it makes a considerable difference to the value of the land; although if it’s being sold as a building plot presumably that is already known (but be aware that the situation might change if you haven’t started work on the building within a certain timeframe - certificats d’urbanisme have a relatively short life span). But I can’t see a seller agreeing to make the sale conditional on your specific plans being approved. Apart from anything else it can take a considerable time for an architect to draw up plans (everything except very small constructions needs an architect), but beyond that, the seller is simply selling a building plot and It’s not his concern what the buyer does with it once he’s bought it.

The service d’urbanisme (town planning service) will be able to advise you. Larger communes will have their own town planning office within the mairie, a small commune probably won’t but they’ll tell you who deals with their planning. At my mairie the lady in the town planning office is frighteningly efficient, very knowledgable about forms and regulations and policies. The mayor and his secretary won’t answer questions about planning, they simply refer all enquiries to her.


All great tips! Yeah I would never consider buying anything apart from a plot that is “A batir” or “terrain viabilisé” for exactly those reasons. I will be sure to visit the Maire before even considering putting an offer in.