Refused permission for Veluxes. Can we do something?

Good ideas. Thank you. Yes, 3 years because we have been overseas, and are only now, as of beginning of January, here for a longer stay and want to get various things moving. If possible.

Good luck… and remember to talk through all your ideas… giving the “whole-picture” can sometimes bring forth inspiration on how to circumvent obstacles… :hugs:

(as a matter of interest, in which area of France is your holiday home?)

It all boils down to what the ABF agree within your area, Just a word of advice if you have converted your loft space into living areas declare it, when you sell the house or they catch up with you, you may find the expense of non declaration eye watering.

You raise a good point Warren… and folk should also keep their House Insurers up to date with the number of rooms etc etc.

If anyone has a fire/happening etc … and the Insurers are involved… property details will be checked against the existing policy and if folk are found to have not told their Insurer about an extra bedroom/living room… whatever… there can be all sorts of problems… ( I speak from experience, although the property was not mine… thank heavens)…

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Yes & not just that Stella,
I’ve known people that have renovated loft / cellars & even barns & out buildings etc into living space only to find (lol) out later that they should have declared it to the tax office / mairie & had to pay the arrears in back tax. Cost them a few thousand €. France may not be good at all things, but tax avoidance is something they excel in though they take there time. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, you can even be dead, but your next of kin will be liable to the system.
Not saying this is the case, but just a heads up to anyone reading this that has not thought of the implications & what to do & how to do.

Absolutely Warren… we are in agreement…

which is why I always recommend that folk discuss all their plans with the Mairie… a simple conversation will sort out if Forms need to be completed… or not…

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Which is why, as Stella and many of us have said, it pays to go and introduce yourself at the town hall and the Mayor (unless of course you are in a large city).

When I moved from one commune to another I still did this. I asked the mayor if he could come to my house as I had several projects I wanted to discuss with him. During the visit , he told me that there were things I could do that didn’t need permission, changing a window to a door and building a balcony so that mum could get outside above the garden. Others, like changing the colour of the façade I could do, but he 'suggested’that it was better if I stayed with the same colour because it blended well and he liked it!
A bit of give and take and dialogue works wonders.


“within 500m of a historic cross” suggests to me that the rules applying are those applying to Historic Monuments. All exterior works within 500m of a scheduled Monument Historique require not just planning permission, but also the approval of an Architecte des Batiments de France, basically a high level architect-civil servant. You were probably refused because you didn’t go through that procedure.

I only know this because my architect is currently putting similar plans through the process. I asked why the Veluxes in the roof are a certain size - I would have liked larger ones - and only on one side, the side away from the square and the church (=Monument Historique). “Because the ABF will let us do this, these are the normal specifications of Velux for historic buildings in Correze” was the answer.

On the other hand, I have been able (so far) to repaint my exterior woodwork on the basis that I’m merely reinstating existing work… though no one remembers what colour the paint was before the weather stripped it down to the bare wood :slight_smile: The French can be remarkably pragmatic on occasion.

When an application is made at the Mairie… if the property falls within “whatever” zone … the Mairie will automatically involve B de France… sending them a copy of the dossier, for their input… and, of course, BdFrance will have an impact on any decision.

Yep, as I think I mentioned earlier I once had a phone call from a nice man at Batiments de France (I have the dubious privilege of living in a Historic Monument). But, I applied in the normal way by submitting a form to my pal Nathalie in the Urbanisme department of the town hall. I imagine she routed that particular application to Batiments de France.

EDIT - sorry Stella, posts crossed.

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Yep, that’s how it works… mind you, if you can chat things through with someone from BdFrance … it can help with the application.

I gained an email address for a very helpful BdF lady, some years ago… and she is probably regretting giving it to me… as I contact her if I encounter problems… I don’t know what I will do when she retires… :thinking:

Thanks Stella. That’s how it’s supposed to work… though my architect says it doesn’t always, particularly when a long-service secretary or adjoint retires :slight_smile:

Hi Karen

we had to get permissions and it was first refused for similiar reasons.
they said we were within 500 M of the ‘cafe plan’ which in our village is the church.
however we are certainly not; and a simply call to the maire by a french friend rectified the situation. so we fitted them asap and now its all history.
if you are within the restricted area, then there will be little you can do. however, if your outside then id suggest talking to the Maire and explaining the situation calmly. at the end of the day its a whole laborious process dealing with permissions. ive been waiting 12 months for permission to install a door outside. they are only really interested in anything that is in the fabric of the building. so visible from outside. good luck. maybe get a french architect who could circumnavigate the issues.

Thank you very much. We will try.

I live next to a Chapelle built in 1460, and I go to extremes to make sure I get formal approval for any improvements I make. I live so close I could be mistaken for the Priest (but for my contrary views).

The Mairie always flicks my applications to the two national authorities (Batiments France and the one dealing with Heritage issues). The Mairie never makes a decision on its own.

All my neighbours (except one) have ignored the process without being brought to account. My immediate (French) neighbour has trashed / undermined his house and garden with jerrybuilt unsafe ugly structures built from stuff he has salvaged. The Mairie has been impotent / disinclined to make the effort to bring him to account.

My other (French neighbour) who also faces the Chapelle wanted to build a conservatory using traditional materials that blended in with the zone. Batiments France insisted he build his conservatory in unpainted aluminium.

I am about to lodge an application for two attic windows facing the Chapelle. I expect I’m more likely to get approval for a dormer window. More costly but more in keeping with the lovely Chapelle even if I’m the only householder fronting the Chapelle that cares about preserving the Heritage zone.

It is frustrating when preferential treatment/ignoring the rules… goes on… and it is such a shame when historical areas/buildings are “ruined” …for want of a better word… by some idiotic (IMO) decisions.

Similar decision was given in my village. An 11th century property had to have a modern construction, instead of the carefully “adhering to the original” extension which the owners had proposed. The Decision Maker wanted it to be obvious that the extension was, just that, and could not be mistaken for 11th C work… (what a plonker in my view)… He has since moved to pastures new and folk who visit the village scratch their heads and say “how on earth did that get passed”…???

Re your attic windows… one resident was given permission for a very attractive lucarne/dormer… in the slate roof… unusual shaping and looks as if it has been there from day one. Yes, it cost a little more than velux (ok probably a lot more) but it looks good and does the job.

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may be an alternative

If you are lucky and have made friends, your application is likely to be looked at more favourably. France suffers from a lot of nepotism.
Years ago I applied for permission to put solar panels on our roof. The house was built in 1992-3. As it was within 500m of a Batiment de France, I had to put in an additional copy of the dossier for them. It was approved. Then several years ago we applied for permission to build stables (wooden, prefabricated on a plot adjacent to our property). We were told that we could not have stables (previously agricultural land, but now with CU), but we could build a house. I asked if we could have the stables in our garden and the response was ‘Of course’. I said, then that land is also our garden. Not allowed. I said that I will still make my application and was told by the Secretary at the Mairie, that they wouldn’t be allowed. I suggested that it should be up to the planning committee to decide. The Secretary then told me that if I were to proceed, the stables must be adjacent to our house, or a couple of hundred metres away at the furthest extent of our property, with no explanation as to why.
I completed the planning application and took it back. I was then told I required another copy for the Batiment de France. I disagreed. The 500m limit is actually on our boundary line and the planned stables were on another plot outside of the limit. The explanation from the Secretary was that it was required as we live within the 500m limit. I suggested that was ridiculous as by that reckoning, if I was asking for planning permission 10km away, I would have to ask Batiment de France because I lived within the limit. I just got a Gallic shrug in return. We were on a hiding to nothing. Another copy was submitted and we were turned down. A friendly person in the Mairie told us that if we used an architect, it would be approved. We said there was no requirement for an architect as it was only 69sqm. A shrug from her also!
We used an architect. He said that my application was fine and he put it onto his headed notepaper and it was passed. The architect was known to us and said he would do us a favourable price, but it still cost us €1000!
So, I would suggest, as well as talking to the Maire and finding out what the sticking points might be, talk to a local architect to find out what might be required.
Someone that we knew in our village asked for a balcony, which was turned down by the Mairie. He used this architect as he knew someone at the Batiment de France. Permission was given.
It’s often who you know.
Be careful that you don’t upset the Mairie or the Maire. They can make things very difficult for you.

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Good grief, you have had a difficult time of it.

In our Mairie, the Secretaire is tiptop with the Planning/Urbanisme etc , gets training/updates regularly. Just as well, since she has to advise the Maire about what is what, even though it will be the Maire who signs the permission/refusal.

Thankfully, she is a good egg, who works with people and their dreams, wherever possible. She will advise when it is necessary to use an Architect (to do with the size of the project), otherwise she says…save your money, draw me a picture, take some photos… etc etc.

Always a good idea to talk and talk and talk again, with all parties involved.

Some years back, Parisian friends applied for an extension to a property they owned, which was being lived in by her elderly Uncle who now needed all-one-level. They were turned down by the Maire (seems their family and the Maire’s family had an ongoing feud dating back to the year dot :roll_eyes: …)

Anyway… they sent a new request, for the same work… not to the Mairie, but higher up…(forget where, would it be the Prefecture or similar?)… anyway they mentioned that it was for an elderly relative, to enable him to continue living in his home … and the plans were passed !!!

It is not right that one should have to circumvent/be devious… but sometimes life is like that…


Your mail hit the nail on the head. It is such a relief to read it. It mirrors our situation exactly. Thank you.