Expat Forum For People Moving Overseas And Living Abroad banner

Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 13 of 13 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
40 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Has anyone here had any dealings with the Batiment de France?
Our Church is classified and we live within the 500 meter rule.
We want to build a conservatory with a glazed gable end, chimney breast, windows at the bottom and triangular windows at the tops. You will have seen these often around Brittany.
We have permission to build the extension but they don't want us to put in the triangular windows at the top. As you can imagine we really want the windows, it will be quite a nice feature plus giving us a lot of light.
Ours is an old stone longere and we are trying to keep it looking that way, that is why we are building it in old stone, wood and putting a tiled roof on it.
The Maire said that he thought it would be an idea to have velux windows in and also the triangular windows were a bit large, so my husband re did the plans adding velux and reducing the size of the triangular windows.
Yesterday we had an appointment with the Architect from the Batiment de France and the Maire....they didn't turn up. We went up to the Mairie to find out why as we stayed in all afternoon and I cancelled my art class. We told that the Architect arrived late and there was no time to see us.
As part of our plans to put our view across I took loads of photos of houses with this sort of gable end.
Speaking on the Phone to the Maires secretary this morning, he said that the architect is still against the plans for our gable end, even though no one can even see it.
To say we are peed orf is an understatement!!
So, has anyone been in this situation, if so how did you deal with it?
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
49,800 Posts
In my experience, if the maire doesn't like your plans, it doesn't much matter what Batiment de France thinks. It's one of the few real powers left to small town maires these days, and some of them wield it like a club. Maybe he just doesn't like triangular windows. Maybe he just doesn't like you. It's hard to say.

Work with the maire. If he claims it's the architect who's against the gable thing, take him at his word and ask him what he suggests. It's part of the whole "it's not what you know, but who you know" culture here.

We were looking for a while for a house where we could build a separate building for an office. One house we looked at was really interesting and sat on a huge piece of land, but we were warned by the current owner that the local maire was absolutely against any plans that included a separate building on plots on that side of town - and the total size of any additions could not bring the main building over a certain limit. It had something to do with an adjacent property owned by a family member of the maire, who apparently didn't like seeing the area built up too much.

Only thing you can do in a case like that is to wait until the current maire dies, retires or gets voted out of office and hope for the best from his replacement.
Cheers,
Bev
 
G

·
I'm trying to picture how triangular windows could be in keeping with the style of an old stone French building - and failing. Of course it's pretty impossible to guess what the problem might be, in the eyes of the authorities, without seeing for oneself...

Whenever I've needed planning permission, I've enlisted the help of a local architect - a real local - who's a pal of the mayor. Yet to have any difficulties as a result. I've usually drawn the plans myself, then gone to the architect for a relatively inexpensive 'rubber stamp', assuming he's had no modifications to suggest.

Basically, you crawl. Get uppity, and you're stuffed!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
40 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Ah! I can see peoples replies now.

Thanks Bev, we are planning to see the Maire again on Saturday.
Frogblogger, we are trying to keep the building from the front where it is viewed from as near to its original style as possible (considering some of it was just a cattleshed/feedstore etc), all old stone, wooden windows etc, I know triangular windows are not "original" to the building but one sees them often in Brittany, glass up to the apex at the gable end.
We are not overlooked from the side or back, nobody other than us will see it. We just want as much light as possible as we both paint, we also wish to keep as much light in our kitchen to which this extension will join on to. Is it worth us taken our plans to an architect for a rubber stamp then? Or will he want to re do them, they have been done by my husband who was a draftsman.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
49,800 Posts
If you're within 500 m of a classified church, it may be a losing battle, no matter how "invisible" the windows are from the street. Talk to the maire and see what he suggests. (How about a round window?)

Years ago I saw a detailed article in a consumer magazine here explaining in great detail the regulations regarding "fenetres" and "lumieres" - they distinguish between a window you can see out of and an opening covered with glass that is just to let the light in. Maybe you can do something with that distinction.
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
40 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Just incase anyone is interested......
We decided we really wanted to have our extn/ veranda as we wanted, if we could. We decided to go for it and made an appointment with the Architect de Batiment de France in Brest. You could not have wished to have met a nicer person, very helpful and open minded.
The first thing he said was " Ah, you must really want this to come all this way to see me" " Maybe we were to harsh with you"
After a pleasant half an hour we came away with what we wanted to do.

So, It is worth going further.

We are so glad we did, even though it took a little longer, was a bit more stressful.
We did plan our meeting with him , showing why we wanted this permission. It was worth it in the end.

Thanks for you advice.

Kind Regards

Nick
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
Why not do like the French? Just go ahead and do the changes. Here in our village a Parisian changed wooden windows and doors facing the 11 th century church for uPVC anf then the new owners have installed 2 velux windows facing the church. Their next door neighbours applied for permission and Batiments de France stated that uPVC and velux windows werennot an option within the field of view of the church, let alone within 500 metres......
 

·
Registered
From the US...lived in Canada, UK, & France
Joined
·
1,290 Posts
There is a wrinkle in our village that may be at work in yours. At the least, it might be worth finding out.

We have a very old church here with a wonderful bell tower. Our neighbors have told me that one of the restrictions on renovations to the exterior of one's home, especially regarding the addition of a skylight / velux, is whether the velux can be seen from the church tower.

One of our neighbors had her request to install two velux in her home declined twice. She didn't know why and she wasn't getting any explanations. One of our other neighbors suggested that she move the two velux to the opposide side of the house, the side away from the church. She has quite a steeply pitched roof and the two velux cannot be seen from the church tower on that side. She changed the design plan, resubmitted her request to the mairie, and it was approved immediately.

Of course, this may be an issue local to our village / our maire. If not, consider how much of your conservatory can be seen from the church tower, especially which parts of it can be seen.

Two other thoughts that may be of value, depending on your local situation:

  • We have quite a few "Most Beautiful Villages in France" in our area. I was told that our village can't be considered for this due to the exterior renovations that have already taken place (like skylights and swimming pools whether they're visible from the church or not). I think that there may be money from the government for villages that keep their original architecture & character, whether they're designated or not. If so, that could also be a reason your maire is reluctant to approve.
  • If there are other, similar conservatories in your village, it would seem likely that you can get approval for yours (photos of the others submitted with your application never hurt). As someone else said, working with a local architect who's known at the mairie might be the best path in this case.
Best of luck.

Ray
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
49,800 Posts
Gang, this thread is 3 years old. I suspect the OP has either gotten on with the renovation or given up by now.
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
Yes indeed! We built a very small veranda of 8m2, for which we were told we didn't need planning permission as it was under 20m2. Then we were told it should really be registered at the mairie, so being good law abiding expat citizens - we did! We thought it was just a question of regularising it. About a month later, we received a letter from Batiments de France to say that our veranda was not acceptable in its present state! i.e with white aluminium windows and white paint. This is because it is in a valley in a protected zone and the architect said white was too bright! It's at the back of the house and the only things that can see it are the occasional deer or sanglier! Batiments de France have demanded that we strip all the paint of the support posts and leave them in unprotected wood - ni penture ni lasure-and the windows frames have to be taken out, replaced with wood and painted grey! Our house is relatively new and modern crepie. The volets are painted in a terra cotta colour. The support posts were painted when we bought the house 10 years ago. They also wanted a geo survey done on the land and house and sent in six copies.
When we asked out French friends what on earth to do they were unanimous! Be like an ostrich and say NOTHING! Just sometimes honesty does not pay and being upfront can get you into deep water.
Fortunately the maire of our town has said he thinks it is unreasonable, there are lots of houses painted white or off-white in the town and surrounding area and we should just ignore the letter.
So for what it's worth - when in France, do like the French and avoid incredibly blinkere bureaucracy!
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
49,800 Posts
Looking up and down our little street here, I can tell you pretty much what "illegal" work has been done on each and every house. We decided to play the game by the rules when we built the donkey barn - because the actual rule seems to be that for an "out building" of 20 m2 or less, they only require a "declaration" and not a "building permit."

Well, after our experience, I certainly cannot tell you what the difference might be between a "mere declaration" and a full blown "permit" - because we got read a whole list of regulations about the 20 m2 or less out buildings. Subsequent constructions on our property have just been done without the paperwork. None of the neighbors are going to turn us in, because one guy has converted a "garage" into a bedroom, added a side garage/storage, another re-did the roof on one half his house with the "wrong" type of roof tiles (which actually was caught by the mairie, but the two different styles of tiles remain). We all know about each other's "variances" and like your French neighbors, we all just keep our mouths shut.

I suppose there is the issue that on sale of the property you may have to bring everything into conformity with "the code" - but things may have changed by then, anyhow.
Cheers,
Bev
 
1 - 13 of 13 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top