New 150m2 threshold for French architects on planning permission

Since the 7th of July 2016 there has been new planning permission legislation in France, as part of the art, culture, heritage and architecture law no. 2016-925, the “loi LCAP”.

Article 82 of this law states that all building projects in France of 150m2 and over will require an architect to draw up and submit the ‘demande de permis de construire’ (planning application). The previous law set this threshold at 170m2 and this is still current until the new law comes into practice on 1st March 2017.

So if you are planning a building or renovation project in France, note that if the total floor area on all floors is 150m2 or over (excluding garages, stairwells, areas under 1.8 metres ceiling height and unconverted attics and cellars), you will need to employ an architect to design and sign off your planning permission application. If you would prefer to prepare and submit the planning application yourself, you will need to keep the floor area under 150m2.

Is RT2012 relevant to you?

There is a new hurdle on on the relatively smooth path to getting planning permission in France. RT2012 energy efficiency legislation came into effect for private home-owners on 1st January 2013. This blog on the subject may help to clarify one or two key points for you…

RT-2012 is the latest legislation in France on energy efficient new homes and it builds on the previous RT2005 – with stronger rules to increase the energy efficiency of all new buildings. Its aim is to move new homes towards ‘positive energy’ status. (‘RT’ stands for ‘réglementation thermique’).  Two further new developments are that you are required to have your plans checked before submitting a planning application and you need to have the finished construction checked by a ‘diagnostiqueur’.

If you don’t show compliance with RT-2012, your planning application process will stall. Essentially, the new rules mean that an RT2012 ‘attestation’  must be included with most ‘permis de construire’ applications for new buildings. If it is required and you don’t include it, you will receive a letter requesting the ‘pièce manquante’ and your planning application will be frozen until you hand this in at your local Mairie. Far better to prepare this alongside your other paperwork and to include it in the first place!

So is the RT-2012 relevant to you?

RT-2012 applies to all new homes. This includes new extensions as well, except in some cases. To find out whether your extension will require compliance with the full RT-2012 or with the ‘RT-existant’ 2007 rules for existing buildings is a simple matter of calculating the surface areas.

If your extension is over 150m2 in surface area (on both floors, if it is two-storey), you are required to comply with RT-2012. If it is over 30% of the existing building’s surface area, you are also required to comply with RT-2012. If you are planning a new extension that is both under 150m2 and under 30% of the surface area of the existing building, or if you are building a structure under 50m2, you are exempt from the full RT-2012 but you do need to show compliance with the much simpler ‘RT-existant’.

First, you must calculate the ‘SHON-RT’ of your existing building and of the extension you plan to build. The ‘SHON-RT’ is similar to the ‘surface de plancher’ that you will need to calculate for your planning application form. It differs in that it includes the thickness of exterior walls.

If you do need to comply with RT-2012, obtaining the required ‘attestation’ is a simple matter of contacting a ‘bureau d’études’ and providing them with plans and details of the construction of your building. They will calculate whether your building project complies, advise you on steps to take if it doesn’t, and generate your ‘attestation’. Their fees range enormously, as do the services they provide. Some will simply take all the information from and do a calculation, while others will carry out a detailed site survey and checks during construction.

If you only need to comply with the RT-existant, the ‘attestation’ can be generated online by submitting the required information. This commits you to comply with the RT-existant rules of 2007. This document must still be included in your permis de construire application.

I hope this brief update helps to cast a little light on this new and important aspect of obtaining planning permission in France. If you would like more advice or help with the RT-2012, or with any other aspect of your French planning application please contact me.

%d bloggers like this: