Building a terrace: do you need a work request or a permit?

Do you want to enjoy the exterior of your house and build a terrace? But do you know if you are required to apply for a building permit? Do you just need to declare your future work? Or do you not need to start an administrative procedure? The construction of a terrace is subject to formalities. Depending on the surface of your future terrace and its footprint, you may be asked for a prior declaration, a building permit or nothing at all.

What type of terrace are you considering?

  • An uncovered single-storey terrace
  • A level terrace with awning
  • A raised terrace in relation to your land
  • A terrace overhanging the ground floor of your house
  • A rooftop terrace
  • Etc.

SHON and SHOB replaced by footprint and floor area

About ten years ago, it was a question of SHON or Surface Hors d’Oeuvre Net and SHOB Surface Hors d’Oeuvre Brute. These have been removed in favor of two new measurements: footprint and floor area. The footprint is the vertical projection of the volume of the construction while the floor area is the sum of the areas of all the levels built. These are the two measures to be taken and calculated for the application for a building permit or a prior declaration of work.

What type of terrace does not require prior authorization?

Three types of terraces are not subject to authorisation. These are the smallest, those that are less than five square meters. Then those that are made under an existing awning. Finally, those that are on one level and do not require any elevation: these are the most common. If you are not very familiar with what an elevation is, consult the planning department of your municipality before starting your work.

What type of terraces are subject to authorisation?

On the other hand, terraces requiring an elevation require a prior declaration or a building permit depending on the surface. Raised terraces of more than 60 centimeters are subject to prior declaration or building permit depending on their surface.

Terraces subject to prior declaration

If your terrace is planned to not exceed 20 square meters of floor area or footprint, then you will have to make a prior declaration.
What steps should be taken for a prior declaration? The declaration of works is a file to be completed and submitted to the town hall of your municipality. This must know if you are preparing to respect the current town planning rules in order to be able to validate your project. You will have to look at the Local Urbanism Plan of your city in order to locate your land there and to see the regulations which are linked to it. Then, you will need to fill in a form with information about your terrace project. The eight required documents are:

  • The location plan
  • The ground plan
  • The cutting plan
  • The plan of facades and roofs
  • A representation of your terrace
  • The graphic document
  • Up close pictures
  • Photos from afar

Terraces subject to building permits

If your terrace must exceed 20 square meters of floor area or footprint, then you will need to apply for a building permit.
What steps to take for a building permit? Here again, before constituting a building permit, it is imperative to refer to the Local Urban Plan of your municipality and then find out about the requirements. In particular, check that you are not in a specific area such as those near a historic building. As for the preliminary declaration of work, a file of several documents will be requested. You will need to present:

  • A site plan
  • A ground plan
  • A cutting plan
  • Une notice descriptive
  • A plan of facades and roofs
  • A graphic document
  • A photo in a close environment
  • A photo in a distant environment

Additional documents may be added to your file depending on the characteristics and location of your project.

A complex assessment

It is sometimes difficult to know in which frame your project fits. This is why it may be wise to contact the town hall of your municipality so that it can tell you more about the subject. Because some circulars can be made much more opaque to decipher than expected. And the footprint is not necessarily the most obvious to calculate. Get information or advice from experts or professionals in the field.

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