The preliminary declaration of work: why when how?

Far from being a mere formality, the prior declaration of work (DP) must be filed with the town hall in many cases. Failure to comply can result in heavy penalties. Let’s see together what the DP is used for, for which types of work it is mandatory and how to compile your file.

What is the prior declaration of works or DP?

This is a town planning permit which is necessary to enable the town planning department to verify compliance with the rules imposed by the town planning code. This administrative file must be submitted to the town hall of your municipality when you have a small-scale work project that is not subject to a building permit.

To make a prior declaration of work, it is imperative to complete a Cerfa N° 13404*07 form if the work does not concern a single-family house or Cerfa N° 13703*07 for a single-family house and its annexes, whether can download from the official website of the public service. Contrary to what many people think, the file is complex and its constitution requires great attention. The slightest omission or the slightest declaration error can considerably delay the start of the work and may even prevent the project from seeing the light of day.

How much does a prior declaration of work cost?

This is a free act, unless you have to go through an architect. In this case, the fees must be paid. These are at least 1,500 €, an amount to which must be added – depending on the project – 50 to 80 €/m².

When to file your prior declaration of work?

First of all, you should know that if after the works the total footprint or the floor area of ​​the house is at least equal to 150 m², it is mandatory to apply for a building permit (and not a DP) and to have recourse to an architect.

The DP must be filed for constructions, works, installations and developments that do not require a building permit. This is therefore the case if, for example, we intend to:

  • Modify the exterior appearance of a building (change the roof, change the joinery, i.e. opt for doors, windows, shutters of different shapes and/or colors, create an opening, etc.),
  • Transform an existing building,
  • Realize an extension such as an additional room, a veranda, an elevation, etc.,
  • Changing the destination of a building (for example transforming a garage into a living room),
  • Lay a fence wall with a height of 2 m or more,
  • Install a gate, fences,
  • Proceed with the installation of a caravan on its land,
  • Recover the facade,
  • Build a swimming pool with a basin area of ​​less than 100 m², a garage, a garden shed,
  • Fit out a carport or an annex with a footprint of less than 20 m²…

It should be noted that for an enlargement, an elevation, a development of the attic or an extension, the creation of surface on the ground or footprint must be less than 40 m² but she must not exceed 20 m² if the plot is located outside an urban area of ​​PLU (Local Urban Plan).

Taxes may be subject to new premises. To find out more about this, it is useful to refer to the help sheet for calculating the development tax published by the Ministry of Cohesion, Territories and Relations with Local Authorities.

Carrying out your project without prior declaration of work: what are the risks?

Only construction projects with an area of ​​less than 5 m² are feasible without the obligation to file a DP. In other cases, building without authorization is a Violation of the Town Planning Code which can at any time – within ten years following the completion of the work – be observed either by a police officer or by a State agent. A report is then drawn up and the offender can be summoned by the TGI (Tribunal de Grande Instance):

  • To stop work on the field,
  • To bring the construction into conformity,
  • To carry out the total demolition of the construction concerned,
  • To pay a fine of 2,000 to 6,000 €/m².

It is not in the owner’s interest to override this obligation because, in the event of the sale of his house, the additional space will not be taken into account in theproperty value estimate.

Note that it is possible to regularize the situation by means of a DP after works. All you have to do is complete the Cerfa form adapted to the situation and clearly specify that it is a regularization.

Procedure to follow to compile your application file for a prior declaration of work

For this DP request to be carried out properly, it is sufficient to respect the following points.

  • Refer to the Local Urbanism Plan of your municipality,
  • Request a town planning certificate from your town hall to check the building possibilities,
  • Attach the following documents to the request:

    • The location plan,
    • The ground plan,
    • The cutting plan,
    • The plan of facades, roofs,
    • 3D modeling of the project,
    • A photo that allows you to visualize the situation of the land in the immediate environment,
    • A situational photo of the terrain in a distant environment.

At least four copies of the file must be submitted to the department concerned, by hand or by registered mail with acknowledgment of receipt. It is then studied by an instructor then it is the town hall of the municipality which validates or not the file. The instruction time is usually 30 to 60 days. A non-response from the town hall within the time limits is worth tacit agreement. However, it is strongly recommended to ask for written confirmation before opening the site.

The period of validity of a declaration of work is 3 years, renewable twice for periods of 12 months (i.e. 5 years in total). The PD should be displayed on a sign of at least 0.80 x 1.20 m positioned on the ground so that it can be seen from the public road. She will have to stay there until the end of the work. This indicates that the project is legal. L’display must precisely indicate the reference of the file, the date of issue of the authorization, the nature of the project, the name of the owner, the address of the town hall, and certain details concerning the realization. Following this posting, any person may exercise their right of recourse.

Finally, the town hall can deny PD request for different reasons. The applicant can file a non-contentious appeal, then a contentious appeal, or modify his prior declaration of works if the town hall requests minor adjustments. In the event that adjustments more important were to be made, the owner would be obliged to file a new declaration of work. Finally, for a reason that belongs to him, he has the right to cancel a DP during the investigation or after its validation without having to justify it. All he has to do is notify the town hall or the town planning department.

This approach can be an obstacle course for some of us, but it is possible to entrust this project to a professional. Stay at request quotes in order to compare the rates applied and the services offered.

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