We'd like to demolish this house and rebuild it but it's not allowed?

We have a Maison Gardian on our property that was built in the 1950s without a permis construire ( perhaps not necessary then) but it is marked on the plan cadastre so legally it exists. It is in very bad condition with cracks all over it and experts say there is no point in renovating it as it will eventually fall down. Therefore we would like to demolish it and build a new house on the same footprint but because it never had planning permission we cannot do that as a new build would not be allowed in our zone non constructible. If we went ahead and did that, we could be ordered to demolish the new house. So the only solution is to demolish some or most of it. The question I am asking is: how much of the existing house must we leave in order to claim that the work is a renovation… a wall… half a wall… the foundations??? Has anyone had a similar problem and found a solution or is there an expert who can tell us where to find this information?

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Hi Lynda,

I am afraid it’s hopeless as the law says that you do need a permis de construire when the work is impacting load bearing walls (I guess it is the case) or facades. You cannot avoid this by saying it’s just a renovation.


Hi Lynda, I’ve rented in my village for 2.5 years a pre-1959 stone built village cottage It looked sort of maintained and newly decorated, as in plastered thinly walls, fresh paint and new thick wallpaper. I realised before very long that the paint and paper covered walls of a very damp house with a leaking roof, and getting damper by the month! I have been diagnosed this year with Aspergillosis from Cocci gram positive - a type of mould fungus! It was a pulmonary aspiration that gathered the evidence.

Re old houses, usually stone built From what I gather though, unless properly almost double insulated which mine wasn’t, houses this age do NOT have any foundations at all, This one just has a concrete slab on the earth and house was built upwards from there. There is a thin Lino on ground floor, where it’s come unstuck looks almost like Victorian pattern in a square, surrounded by concrete. Ceramic floor tiling, as in other places I’ve rented or lived in go a very long way.

Im extremely unlucky with this, having rented not through an immobilier but from an ad I’d placed looking for a small ground floor apartment. This had a small courtyard which suited me but I took the rental contract because it looked well maintained, and had plenty of space. Bathroom upstairs, Sep toilet - shower and laundry rooms downstairs, all at a reasonable rent in a village with 3 shops, a mairie that doubled up as a post office also. Perfect I thought - oh boy was I a mug! Fortunately with several years office working in the home improvement industry in UK, it didn’t take long to put my knowledge but no Practical experience to use. I’m currently suffering untold harassment from locals, illegal entry, woke up yesterday feeling as though I’d just come round from anaesthetic after an operation, NO dreaming or sense of time passing and discovering window frames had been painted with athin coat of odourless paint. . Dehumidifier going? I don’t know? I do t know how many times people have entered here without my knowledge, whether daytime when I was out reading my medical papers, some of which landlady has quoted I her defence statement, or recently at night, when I have woken later in mornings feeling woozy! I just didn’t make the connections till v recently. I’m now still waiting to hear back from the police who I’ve phoned twice, last night and today, but have spoken to the Huissier who started the legal process for me A year next month ago. He said he would speak to my Avocat this afternoon. I dread going to sleep tonight, so I won’t! Yes I’ve had the lock changed a few weeks ago, but by a local!

Back to the other discussion about artisans I guess. Who ever has maintained this really hasn’t a clue,. I’ve seen some lead piping which wasn’t obvious at viewing, same as I hadn’t released about 3 or more layers down on a very old stable door there is lead paint! Probably old lead pipes in walls also. An old cupboard with ceramic fuses still apparently in use alongside tiny newer one found by Huissier upstairs in a cleverly disguised and not shown to me on viewing, a hidden small new fuse board in space behind sloping plasterboard ceiling and walls, of which according to the huissier only half of is connected and working, other half NOT. Appearance of ventilation grilles that do nothing, not connected to any electricity and a leaking roof, I could only see the front slope, there is no rear access for me to back of property. When asking a neighbour it seems the e period of the back wall is end boundary to someone’s else’s garden, that someone not being in same road! Only the upstairs appears to have some sort of cheap insulation in the bedrooms.

By the time I’d discovered only some of the above, my health was already Unknowingly being badly affected by the internal “atmosphere”, along with a few other things that may or not also be because of the damp and mould. I’m now 2 years into following all the legal rules and regs, tried to get legal permission to stop paying rent and go back to court in 2 weeks for a judgement on my brought about legal case and after that I’m out of here back to UK asap with help from a son. I’ve had almost 9 years of The Good, The Bad and now The downright Ugly!

So I’d suggest you either go talk talk to a good, English speaking if needed, surveyor/architect with very good experience of old French properties and their I gèrent problems before you chuck good money after ? Bad - cut your losses and run or do as my landlady did, cover up what you can, sell it, and buy a different property that you insist is thoroughly surveyed before committing to a future purchase, especially if you have young family.

I hope others read this and consider things when viewing to buy, a “lovely old stone cottage”.

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