Once the operator has cleared all administrative administrative authorizations necessary to launch its real estate project, it needs to consider the duration and validity of these authorizations.

Planning permission is valid for 3 years from the date of issue. It is renewable 2 times for a period of 1 year on simple request to the town hall. The latter will issue an extension order. The request must be made 2 months before the expiry date of the authorization, and is granted automatically, unless there is an unfavorable change in planning regulations.

The period of validity of a planning permission can be suspended, for example to allow time for a contentious appeal to be lodged. The period of validity of the authorization resumes as soon as the decision is pronounced by the authorities.


1- Starting work

Filing the DOC (Déclaration d'Ouverture de Chantier) and the actual start of work must take place before the permit expires (3 years). The DOC is simply a document notifying the town hall that work has begun.

The operator must nevertheless be vigilant thereafter, as any interruption of work for more than a year will cause the authorization to lapse. The judge will determine whether the interruption is genuine, and the work already carried out will be considered illegal.


2- Modifications to planning permission

If the operator wishes to make changes to his initial project, he must first check that these two conditions are met:

  • Have a valid building permit
  • The proposed modifications do not change the nature of the project

The first condition is met as long as the work has not been completed. An amending permit can be submitted as long as the DAACT - Déclaration Attestant l'Achèvement et la Conformité des Travaux (see paragraph 7 - completion of work), has not been obtained.

The second condition means that a modifying Permis de Construire can only be applied for to make minor alterations to the external appearance, or to modify the building's footprint or floor area. On the other hand, a new building permit application will be required if the desired modifications are more substantial. This is the case for a major increase in the floor area to be built, or a change in the purpose of the project.

Processing times are the same as for the initial building permit application. As with the initial building permit, it is essential to take all the necessary steps to purge it of all appeals and withdrawals. However, even if the posting of the Permis de Construire reopens the appeal period, this only concerns the elements granted by the modifying Permis de Construire and not the entire project. An appeal against an amending building permit suspends the validity of the original permit until the appeal is settled (either amicably or through the courts).

For your information, in the event of an appeal against an amending building permit, the original building permit remains valid, even if the amending permit is cancelled.

Please note, however, that an amending building permit does not restart the validity period of the initial building permit, which remains 3 years from the date of the initial permit order.


3- Transfer of planning permission

Once planning permission has been obtained, the company carrying out the project may change, for example if the project is resold to another operator, or if the project is carried out by a dedicated subsidiary (mainly a Société Civile de Construction Vente).

In this case, it is essential to apply for a transfer of planning permission. Apart from the agreement of both parties, the only condition is that the planning permission transferred is valid. The transfer is automatic, as the building permit is attached to the land and not to the person. What's more, any change in planning regulations between the initial permit and its transfer cannot result in a refusal by the town hall.

The town hall will issue a building permit transfer order after a 2-month review period. As with the modifying building permit, the transfer order must be posted and all appeals and withdrawals purged.

However, this concept must be qualified for the transfer of a building permit. The transfer has virtually no legal effect, apart from the identity of the beneficiary. This is why third-party petitioners will most often be declared inadmissible for lack of interest. The possibility of attacking a transfer order is therefore limited to the applicant 's lack of standing (CE, 26 sept. 1994, Steiger), which makes it more theoretical than real.

Reminder on the applicant's lack of status: the main persons entitled to submit a building permit application are the owners of the land, their agent or a person certifying that they are authorized by them to carry out the work.

Rare examples of refusals to transfer building permits:

  • The permit has expired (CE du 27 octobre 2006 req. N° 278226)
  • The permit is transferred from a natural person to a legal entity, as the initial beneficiary is not obliged to use an architect, unlike a legal entity (article L431-1 of the town planning code; law no. 77-2 of January 3, 1977 on architecture).
  • The permit concerns work on the public domain. This type of authorization is personal and non-transferable.


4- Completion of work

Once the work has been completed, the operator must issue a declaration of completion and conformity of the work , known as a DAACT ( déclaration attestant l'achèvement et la conformité des travaux ). This informs the town hall that the work has been completed.

For a period that varies according to the location of the building, the Mairie can contest the conformity of the building with the planning permission by visiting the site. The basic time limit for this is 3 months from receipt of the DAACT.

To cite a few exceptions to the time limit for contesting the conformity of work, the mayor's office has 5 months in the case of a building listed as a historic monument or located in a protected area. Similarly, a 5-month time limit applies to areas covered by a natural, technological or mining risk prevention plan.

If no reply is received within the given deadline, the work is considered complete and compliant.

If the mayor's office considers that the construction does not comply, it can give formal notice to the operator to carry out the necessary work, or request that an amended building permit be filed.

If regularization is not possible, the mayor's office can impose demolition of the building.


To ensure the viability and successful completion of a real estate operation, it is important for operators to follow the steps and conditions laid down by the authorities. These processes may seem cumbersome and time-consuming in France, but the purpose of these authorizations is to protect local residents buyers our heritage and environment.

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