2. Finding Building Land for a New House in France

  1. How To Find a Building Plot
  2. Site Checklist

2.1. How to Find a Building Plot in France

Clearly, the first step in the whole process is to find that ideal site on which to construct the house of your dreams.

A building plot in France is called a terrain a bâtir.

The simplest way of doing so is to buy land already on the market with planning permission. There are generally plenty of them around.

Local agents, newspapers and on-line sites will all have building land advertised for sale.

However, it is not the only way to find a site, for land zoned for construction may not always be on the market and land that might be available for construction may not yet have received planning permission.

So, if like a particular area, but cannot find a suitable site on the market, you should pay a visit to your local mairie to read the local plan.

The local plan comes in different forms and may either be called a Plan d'Occupation des Sols (POS), Plan Local d’Urbanisme [PLU] or Carte Communale.

Neither is the existence of a local plan necessarily the last word on whether or not you can build on a particular site!

In many rural areas of France, keen to increase their population, there are always exceptions that can be made to a case that is well presented.

That having been said, within the last couple of years, exceptions to the rule are becoming fewer, as the government and local councils tighten up on housing development in the open countryside, with tougher infrastructure requirements.

The mayor plays a crucial role in this whole process and you would be well advised to cultivate a good relationship with your local mayor.

Nevertheless, their word is rarely final, as the prefecture have a major say, so if you are buying land without consent on it, make sure any contract for the purchase of land is subject to 'in principle' planning consent, called a certificat d’urbanisme, being obtained.

The first division of land for one or more new dwellings requires a special kind of application called a déclaration préalable or a permis d'aménager.

The former is normally sufficient for single dwellings, whilst the latter will be required for two or more properties, or where road access or communal spaces are being created, or the development is within a protected area.

This consent should have been obtained by the seller before you purchase the land.

Once approved, it is then necessary to submit a formal planning application.

Next: Site Checklist

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