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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok guys so we're setting about our dream of living simply. Yes we're those hippies that want to live green and eco friendly (yawn)

So the thing is we're trying to figure out whether or not we need planning permission. I read somewhere that if the construction is less than 20 metres squared the we don't need planning permission-is this true? If so, is there any limit on height?

Also, I figure that placing a caravan on a piece of land doesn't require planning permission because it's a movable structure-is there some loophole that we could use to make our home under these guidelines? We were considering shipping containers because they are in theory a movable structure. Anything that doesn't require foundations should fall into the same category right? If I'm wrong please correct me...

Basically we're looking for some way to purchase a piece of land and build some form of structure there that wont cause a problem with the local authorities.
It's not like we're building a real house, we're sticking mud together-lol.

We don't have the money to facilitate purchasing land that already has planning permission and the likelihood of us finding land that has permission to build an eco home is slim to none.

We really can't afford to buy land and apply for permission on the off chance that permission is refused and we have land that we can't do anything with.

We know it can be done because people all over the world have done it and specifically it's been done in Brittany.

The thing with building in France is that the climate would be perfect for growing a variety of crops and homeschooling in France is legal. It's a place I've always wanted to live in and I actually speak French! (well, basic french anyway.) I wouldn't say I'm fluent but I know enough to make conversation and get my point across. I'm also improving my skills (as well as juggling a whole new skill set required for building a house!)

So big post over and I apologise for the rant :D

All offerings of help are greatfully received...

Emma
 

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Hm, you should talk to the guy camped out in a caravan over on the piece of agricultural land near us.... He's been living in the caravan for about a year now, and is assembling some sort of structure/storage facility out of what looks like the shells of those mobile classroom things they use in some places.

The under 20 m2 rule applies, I think, to "outbuildings" constructed on a buildable property. It's like if you want to add a pool house, shed or (as we did) donkey barn on a piece of property where there is already a house. You don't need "permission" but you do need to file a "declaration" of what you're planning on building - with architectural drawings and everything. How a declaration differs from a building permit application I have no idea, except maybe it's a little less expensive. You have to wait for "approval" of the declaration before you can begin building. Then there are a bunch of rules about how far from the middle of the street, how far from the nearest structure and so forth you can put one of these under-20 m2 buildings.

As far as the mobile structures goes, you're right - and you're following in the footsteps of numerous French farmers who do similar things. I'm only aware of this being done on "agricultural" land - i.e. land with no building authorization except (there's always an "except" in France) for farmers. Our neighbor (who I call "Caravan man") has even tapped into the local water and sewer system, though he has not got electricity other than his generator (which apparently powers his television). Recently, he even has put up a mail box on the road, though I don't know if he gets anything other than publicity flyers.

But, I am not at all certain of the legality of his living arrangements. He has located the caravan and assorted structural stuff at the far end of his lot - away from the main road where it can't be easily seen. It surprises me that there aren't local laws that would dictate some minimum standards for habitability, even of a portable abode like a caravan - at least as far as sanitation goes (which may explain his water and sewer hook up).

If you're serious about doing something like this, I would check carefully the cadastre and POS for any piece of agricultural land, then be very very sure to befriend your farmer neighbors - or any people living nearby in "normal" type houses. If you piss any of them off, or they just don't like having "foreigners" around, they could denounce you to the officials. If they like you, they will probably give you ideas for how to keep your abode just this side of legal, since they all seem to be experts in the process. But be careful, because a change in the mayor or town council could mark a change in enforcement policies.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hm, you should talk to the guy camped out in a caravan over on the piece of agricultural land near us.... He's been living in the caravan for about a year now, and is assembling some sort of structure/storage facility out of what looks like the shells of those mobile classroom things they use in some places.
Curious chap...sounds like he's building from portacabins or shipping containers. That was a thought I had because 'technically' it's a movable structure. There is no permanence about it if it isn't concreted in with foundations etc.

The under 20 m2 rule applies, I think, to "outbuildings" constructed on a buildable property. It's like if you want to add a pool house, shed or (as we did) donkey barn on a piece of property where there is already a house. You don't need "permission" but you do need to file a "declaration" of what you're planning on building - with architectural drawings and everything. How a declaration differs from a building permit application I have no idea, except maybe it's a little less expensive. You have to wait for "approval" of the declaration before you can begin building. Then there are a bunch of rules about how far from the middle of the street, how far from the nearest structure and so forth you can put one of these under-20 m2 buildings.
This sounds like completely the opposite of what we want. We just want something simple that we can make without being bugged by the authorities. I'm working on the movable theory. I think it's gonna be the only way we can achieve this (at least initially).

As far as the mobile structures goes, you're right - and you're following in the footsteps of numerous French farmers who do similar things. I'm only aware of this being done on "agricultural" land - i.e. land with no building authorization except (there's always an "except" in France) for farmers.
This is the land we've been looking at. No permission whatsoever for anything.
When you say mobile structures, what sort of hings have you seen farmers do? Just simply caravans or anything else?

Our neighbor (who I call "Caravan man") has even tapped into the local water and sewer system, though he has not got electricity other than his generator (which apparently powers his television). Recently, he even has put up a mail box on the road, though I don't know if he gets anything other than publicity flyers.
I love that you call him caravan man hehehe and yes we were planning on using a generator. Simply because it would be a nightmare (and financial suicide) to get hooked up to the national grid. Local water and sewer system? The jammy devil! We had looked at alternative options for that to be honest because I think that lies on the rather obvious side of illegality.

But, I am not at all certain of the legality of his living arrangements. He has located the caravan and assorted structural stuff at the far end of his lot - away from the main road where it can't be easily seen. It surprises me that there aren't local laws that would dictate some minimum standards for habitability, even of a portable abode like a caravan - at least as far as sanitation goes (which may explain his water and sewer hook up).
Maybe...I'm convinced his 'hookup' isn't all together legal to be honest. As far as the caravan goes, anyone can live in a caravan-providing he's on his own land or if he's renting then his landlord agrees. I'm honestly starting to consider this option myself. It seems a lot easier...

If you're serious about doing something like this, I would check carefully the cadastre and POS for any piece of agricultural land, then be very very sure to befriend your farmer neighbors - or any people living nearby in "normal" type houses. If you piss any of them off, or they just don't like having "foreigners" around, they could denounce you to the officials. If they like you, they will probably give you ideas for how to keep your abode just this side of legal, since they all seem to be experts in the process. But be careful, because a change in the mayor or town council could mark a change in enforcement policies.
Seems like sound advice! Not too sure what the cadastre and POS are though :juggle: To be honest, I'm about ready to pull my hair out. You wouldn't think it'd be so bloody hard to make something that will essentially cause no problems to anyone. Granted, someone might not like the look of it but I'm gonna be out of the way and no one else has to live in it! Oh I don't know maybe I'll have to consider some other country because it would appear there aren't any definitive guidelines that depict what I can or cannot do. Moreover, there seems to be a great risk of buying land and having my permissions refused...
 
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Tell you what, I've got a big unused caravan on my land, and some unused fields, water supply from a spring, going free to someone who can maintain the land and generally look after things! ;) :D
 

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When you say mobile structures, what sort of hings have you seen farmers do? Just simply caravans or anything else?
Basically, caravans. Another neighbor got around the "no building" rule by using an old caravan as a shelter for his pony. He took the wheels off and put the thing up on blocks to make it a bit more stable for the additional weight. (It's a fat pony.) Odd sidebar: If you have animals quartered on agricultural land, you're supposed to be able to get around the prohibition on building anything if you are building a (required) shelter for the animals. However there is a brisk business in portable horse shelters that are very movable.

Local water and sewer system? The jammy devil! We had looked at alternative options for that to be honest because I think that lies on the rather obvious side of illegality.
I suspect you're right. It shouldn't be legal, but no one seems to bother him about it. I figure it's better than having him peeing and pooping in the woods like a bear. He has also fenced off his property, which you aren't supposed to do without consulting with the neighbors. (Anything to keep his sheep out of our garden!)

Not too sure what the cadastre and POS are though To be honest, I'm about ready to pull my hair out. You wouldn't think it'd be so bloody hard to make something that will essentially cause no problems to anyone.
The cadastre is the official registry of land in the town. Not just deeds to land, it includes detailed maps of how the parcels are distributed on the land. The POS is basically the plan for "zoning" except they don't call it "zoning" in France - which parcels can be built on, which are residential, which are commercial or agricultural or any other usage designations they have. It includes lots of detail, like what percentage of a parcel is buildable. You really have to go in to the mairie and ask about the restrictions on whatever parcel of land you're thinking about because some of the regulations are bizarre.

Check the local hunting regulations, too, since you don't want to put your caravan in the line of fire. (I suspect that may be one of the reasons they require any structure be "portable" - so they can make you get out of the way of the hunters, who carry tremendous political clout in France.)
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Tell you what, I've got a big unused caravan on my land, and some unused fields, water supply from a spring, going free to someone who can maintain the land and generally look after things! ;) :D
Are you kidding? Seriously? That would be immense...unless you are kidding-then sorry (I'm a little gullible):ranger:
 
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Your ideas are fashionably cute, but full of holes.

<<<Ok guys so we're setting about our dream of living simply. Yes we're those hippies that want to live green and eco friendly (yawn)>>

So this is why you used the internet to ask these questions, right? So that you can tell us how you are 'dropping out'?

<< 20 metres squared >>>

20 metres squared = four hundred square metres - which is quite a sizable house; maybe you mean 20 square metres, which is a small caravan - I'm being picky, but if you are going to take on the 800-pound gorilla that is called french bureaucracy you need to get your ducks in a row first.

<<<Also, I figure that placing a caravan on a piece of land doesn't require planning permission because it's a movable structure-is there some loophole that we could use to make our home under these guidelines?>>>

You won't be allowed to live in it for more than 6/12. Bevs neighbour is allowed to because he's French - you're not.

<<< We were considering shipping containers because they are in theory a movable structure.>>>

But they are not 'habitable, and unless you throw a lot of money at lining them out, they will be very damp, and far too cold.

<<< Basically we're looking for some way to purchase a piece of land and build some form of structure there that wont cause a problem with the local authorities.
It's not like we're building a real house, we're sticking mud together-lol.>>

Mud-houses are a reality here, its called pise, and to do it properly costs €1000/sqm. I happen to live in one - don't knock it.

<<<the likelihood of us finding land that has permission to build an eco home is slim to none.>>>

Rubbish. There is a farmer over the valley from us who has built a wooden house with an earth roof - local authorites MUST consider designs based on (yech spit) 'sustainable' notions.

<<<We really can't afford to buy land and apply for permission on the off chance that permission is refused and we have land that we can't do anything with.>>>

So look for 'terrain viabilise', it's everywhere. You fall over it here, and so long as what you propose isn't too outlandish, you'd get your PP>

<<<We know it can be done because people all over the world have done it and specifically it's been done in Brittany.>>>

That doesn't make it right, and it doesn't mean you'll get to do it.

<<<The thing with building in France is that the climate would be perfect for growing a variety of crops >>

You want to be Tom and Barbara? Think again, you'd need an awful lot of land to be truly self-sufficient, and you won't find markets for small-scale produce readily.

<<< You have to wait for "approval" of the declaration before you can begin building.>>>

...oh, and don't forget, if anyone complains within two years of it being finished, you have the pleasure of dismantling it. Or they have the pleasure of watching you dismantle it.....

<<< We just want something simple that we can make without being bugged by the authorities. >>>

Hippies have always thought that life is about live and let live, and let someone else clear up the mess afterwards; the reality is that most re-enter mainstream society when starvation or winter sets in.

Oh, and as for generators? Where are you going to store your batteries? Be aware that most of rural France is fairly religious about the noise pollution thing, so you'd only be able to recharge your bank between 1000-1200 on Sundays, and not at all after 1800 on any day of the week. NB this rule, too, does not apply to teh French.....

<<< Oh I don't know maybe I'll have to consider some other country >>>

I hear Wales is Hippy Heaven these days......

Oh, and yes, this IS a negative posting - the last thing any community needs is the arrival of ill-prepared starry-eyed foreigners who make a great show of eschewing society, and then run bleating to use its services the first time a broken leg, collapsed roof or burning generator gets in teh way of their dream.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Your ideas are fashionably cute, but full of holes.
I honestly thought my presence here would indicate that I needed help, obviously not.

So this is why you used the internet to ask these questions, right? So that you can tell us how you are 'dropping out'?
For a start...I have no idea what you mean by 'dropping out'. Secondly, the internet isn't the issue...it's the power used to facilitate it that is...

20 metres squared = four hundred square metres - which is quite a sizable house; maybe you mean 20 square metres, which is a small caravan - I'm being picky, but if you are going to take on the 800-pound gorilla that is called french bureaucracy you need to get your ducks in a row first.
Damnit, you picked up on the fact that maths was never my strong point...whatever shall I do???

You won't be allowed to live in it for more than 6/12. Bevs neighbour is allowed to because he's French - you're not.
With all due respect...it was a suggestion

But they are not 'habitable, and unless you throw a lot of money at lining them out, they will be very damp, and far too cold.
This is where I have to laugh, loudly. Have you not seen the fantastically constructed homes which have been made from shipping containers? It's amazing what you can put your mind to when you actually try to be constructive.

Mud-houses are a reality here, its called pise, and to do it properly costs €1000/sqm. I happen to live in one - don't knock it.
I wasn't knocking anything, in actual fact we were favouring cob or earthbags as a viable suggestion.

Rubbish. There is a farmer over the valley from us who has built a wooden house with an earth roof - local authorites MUST consider designs based on (yech spit) 'sustainable' notions.
Fantastic, didn't say it was impossible but then I know nothing of French red tape (as you keep pointing out)

So look for 'terrain viabilise', it's everywhere. You fall over it here, and so long as what you propose isn't too outlandish, you'd get your PP>
Once again...if I know nothing about French red tape, you can't then assume that I know what 'terrain viabilise' is. You can't have your cake and eat it.

That doesn't make it right, and it doesn't mean you'll get to do it.
What? It's not right to build an eco friendly house? Because that's the only statement I was making...

You want to be Tom and Barbara? Think again, you'd need an awful lot of land to be truly self-sufficient, and you won't find markets for small-scale produce readily.
Forgive my ignorance...but who the heck are Tom and barbara??? No, I want to grow vegetables for my family, similarly to the way we did as kids on my fathers allotment. You'll be amazed by just how much you can grow in a small space.

...oh, and don't forget, if anyone complains within two years of it being finished, you have the pleasure of dismantling it. Or they have the pleasure of watching you dismantle it.....
Or I could just not make it so unsightly that people would complain...

Hippies have always thought that life is about live and let live, and let someone else clear up the mess afterwards; the reality is that most re-enter mainstream society when starvation or winter sets in.
I didn't say I was a hippy...I said we wanted what some might consider a hippy lifestyle (granted that is paraphrased.) I dislike your tendency to tar all 'hippes' with the same brush. You assume that I know nothing about what I'm doing because I'm unfamiliar with the bureaucracy of one country. That in its self is bigoted and stereotypical. If you'd bothered to get to know me at all before casting aspersions you'd have figured out that I'm actually a pagan and wouldn't want to cause harm or annoyance to anyone.

Oh, and as for generators? Where are you going to store your batteries? Be aware that most of rural France is fairly religious about the noise pollution thing, so you'd only be able to recharge your bank between 1000-1200 on Sundays, and not at all after 1800 on any day of the week. NB this rule, too, does not apply to teh French.....
With that statement I'm going to politely assume that you don't know very much about generators and we'll leave it at that to prevent any further embarrassment on your behalf.

I hear Wales is Hippy Heaven these days......
Yet another stereotypical comment...why am I surprised? I'm actually from the UK and have no plans of returning. I currently live in Spain and whoa I've managed to live here for a whole year without annoying anyone or starving. Isn't that something?

Oh, and yes, this IS a negative posting
I'm retarded now too, great.

- the last thing any community needs is the arrival of ill-prepared starry-eyed foreigners who make a great show of eschewing society, and then run bleating to use its services the first time a broken leg, collapsed roof or burning generator gets in teh way of their dream.
I'll prepared? Am I in France RIGHT NOW? No. I'm in Spain, in my apartment finding out all the information I need before I take the plunge. I don't think asking for advice is irresponsible do you?

Yes, yes, I'm right in line to eschew society...wtf? Are you insane?
Surprisingly enough, I've managed in Spain without the resources of my home country...I think I'll be fine-but thanks for you concern!

Ps...burning generator? Is everything so pessimistic in your 1000 euro psm home?

...Just curios...hey! Maybe you just had a bad month and decided to rant at someone you know nothing about because...well-fill in the blanks little miss prim because I truly have no idea. Back off hippy hater! Jeez, there should be a word for people like you...oh wait-there's several!
:focus:
 
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[<<<Have you not seen the fantastically constructed homes which have been made from shipping containers? >>>

Yes, many, and the the first one I re-discovered tonight is $99K. That's a nice lump of folding stuff for a reworked 20-foot metal box.

<<<It's amazing what you can put your mind to when you actually try to be constructive.>>>

Hmm, yes it is - given the state of this house when we arrived, it's certainly amazing...

<<<<What? It's not right to build an eco friendly house?>>>>

Not if it's so out of place you are actually considering hiding it as a way of avoiding complaints...

<<< Forgive my ignorance...but who the heck are Tom and barbara??? >>>

Google 'The Good Life'
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Yes, many, and the the first one I re-discovered tonight is $99K. That's a nice lump of folding stuff for a reworked 20-foot metal box.
With all due respect, my husband could fabricate most things with his eyes shut. Besides, he's had a great deal of experience with many unconventional builds, hence the aspiration. 800-1000 euros per shipping container isn't as much to shell out when you get off your backside and do the work yourself.

Hmm, yes it is - given the state of this house when we arrived, it's certainly amazing...
So you know it can be done...I'm struggling to see your point.

Not if it's so out of place you are actually considering hiding it as a way of avoiding complaints...
No, there are plenty of people that do it this way, as I have three children to consider I'd like to follow all guidelines where necessary so we can avoid being evicted and subsequently becoming homeless.

Google 'The Good Life'
I know who you mean now.

See, the thing is that you don't know anything about me yet you've chose to assume I'm an egit. Well I'm not. Maybe you should reconsider the way you talk to people you don't even know.

I think I have a fair point considering you haven't addressed many of the points I replied with. I'm asking for advice, that's all. I appreciate your scepticism but you need to understand that just because I describe my choice of lifestyle as a tad 'hippyish' doesn't mean I'm going to let Glastonbury descend on a field near you...
 
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MTC makes some fair points in his usual inimitable fashion, but hats off to anyone that at least thinks outside the box, container or whatever. However - this isn't the room, or even the mud hut for an argument, five minute version or the full half hour*.

Another point to consider Emma; with three children you are going to be particularly visible. I know home schooling is possible, but you have to register each year with the local mairie and the regional school inspectorate. Plus there are annual inspections for anyone teaching children aged between 6 and 16. Not sure if that would go down too well with the authorities, if one was living in a caravan on agricultural land...!

*(First 'The Good Life', and now Monty P's Argument Sketch... apologies to anyone under 50 ;))
 

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You won't be allowed to live in it for more than 6/12. Bevs neighbour is allowed to because he's French - you're not.
I knew there was a reason Caravan Man was getting away with it all! Good point.

Oh, and as for generators? Where are you going to store your batteries? Be aware that most of rural France is fairly religious about the noise pollution thing, so you'd only be able to recharge your bank between 1000-1200 on Sundays, and not at all after 1800 on any day of the week. NB this rule, too, does not apply to teh French.....

Oh, and yes, this IS a negative posting - the last thing any community needs is the arrival of ill-prepared starry-eyed foreigners who make a great show of eschewing society, and then run bleating to use its services the first time a broken leg, collapsed roof or burning generator gets in teh way of their dream.
Oddly enough, Caravan Man did have a generator fire last winter (as well as a very noisy generator that he ran all night!). I was all for calling out the pompiers, as he lives at the edge of a wooded area that could easily have gone up in flames - and that would have dashed his plans of continuing to live there.

I admit to having had a little bit of fun at your expense in mentioning Caravan Man. He's kind of tolerated (though just barely) in our neighborhood, in large part because he's part of a family that goes back generations here and he's considered kind of the "not so bright" one who just was looking to get out from living with his mother (he's in his 50's or 60's).

If you've got kids, I'm afraid your plan is probably undo-able in France. As Frogblogger mentioned, homeschooling is dependent on regular check-ins with the educational establishment - and living in illegal habitation like that will flag all sorts of problems for you. The neighbors may or may not be willing to leave someone they consider a "crazy foreigner" alone to their bizarre ways, but if there are children involved, most French people I know will kick up a fuss at what they see as "unsafe" conditions.

There is also considerable heartfelt concern in France over the "urbanization" of land. Even in our small town, changes to the POS (the plan for land use - the initials change every 10 or 12 years) are scrutinized and discussed to assure that sufficient land is designated as "unbuildable" so as to preserve the character of the countryside.

Your best bet would be buy a piece of buildable land, and then build your eco or sustainable house on it according to the rules in place. It may take a bit of haggling with the local planning authorities, especially if you're doing something out of the ordinary, but that's part of the game in France and until you learn how to play it, life here can be a living hell.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Your best bet would be buy a piece of buildable land, and then build your eco or sustainable house on it according to the rules in place. It may take a bit of haggling with the local planning authorities, especially if you're doing something out of the ordinary, but that's part of the game in France and until you learn how to play it, life here can be a living hell.
Thia is what we want to do Bev, it's what we always wanted to do. The problem is we can't seem to find any substantiating evidence to suggest that purchasing land and then applying for planning permission would work. On the other hand, we managed to find some relatively cheap building land that would just require a change in permissions I believe? I was under the impression that building land was in the same price range as in the UK (unbelievably expensive)
It's not at all and I wasn't aware.

To be honest, I came here to ask for help. I didn't come here with the intentions of doing it all illegally anyway. If I did, I wouldn't have come here.

I already know about the regulations surrounding homeschooling which is why we're scouting around trying to find the best info we can get.

I was searching for a possible 'loophole' but if one doesn't exist then we shall just have to go about it the long way.

The thing that frightens me about that is that 'long' and 'lengthy' processes to do with building quickly become costly affairs.

We don't have a lot of money, the idea with this is partially to do with the fact that it is affordable housing.

I do find it quite unhelpful that there are certain comments which have been made. I'm not in here to ignore everything you all say and live in cloud cuckoo land. I'm looking for a solution to our problem and I honestly thought that people with a little bit of French know how would want to help point me in the right direction.

As it's turned out, I've ended up feeling embarrassed by the way that we want to live our lives. I cannot stress the point any more that with three children to think about I want to do this the most legitimate way possible.

On another note, if anyone is willing to take me seriously (please take me seriously) I'm really not some idiot hippy with her head in the clouds. As a family we've had some real problems in the past and we just need to take a step back from everything, that's all. Believe me when I say we'd go out and just buy one of these things if we could, but we can't.

Caravan man sounds like he's doing things entirely the wrong way, if he's French and wants to risk a brush with the law in his own country then that's his own problem. I don't intend to live illegally.

Anyway :focus: back to my 'another note'. Is it the case that it will just require a change in permissions? Providing the land is already buildable? I figure my best bet is to approach a French estate agent and ask them what they recommend (if I tell them the circumstances.)

I make the mistake of comparing most countries with how things work in the UK, an old habit i should try to lose really. The fact is you can live in a caravan in the UK...that's obviously not the case in France and I wasn't aware. That's why I enquired about the 'movable' structures. (it's he same principle in the UK)

We've seen some 'eco camp' type things with communities of people who share the workload and schooling etc, they do seem nice in theory but I'm not sure they'd be great in practise.

I guess if you all new the circumstances surrounding our choice you'd probably understand a little more but as you don't I guess I'll just have to take it on the chin.

Thanks (I think) for some helpful information, but I must say that no matter how old you get having people take the mickey isn't nice. I'm sure you'd understand if it was the other way around.
 

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Emma,
Sorry if you took some of our "fun and games" the wrong way. I'm sure there's more to your decisions than you care to discuss here on the forum - and I'm sure you'll understand that there is lots more to my concern about Caravan Man and his lifestyle which doesn't really bear airing here, either.

France is a country of little boxes. Either you fit into one of the little boxes or you don't. There are ways to maneuver if you're set on a space of your own, but it takes living here a while to figure out how to do things your own way.

In your situation, I wouldn't talk to the estate agents. They're firmly fixed on making the sale, collecting their fee and then getting out of there quickly - and they are known for saying what they think you want to hear. You really need to go in and talk to the mairies (town halls) about your plans for any particular piece of land. You can confirm if the parcel is buildable, if it has access to utilities or not and what specific restrictions there are on the parcel.

Some towns and some mayors will be more open to original or offbeat construction plans than others. Ultimately, it's the prefecture that decides whether your plans meet the local regulations - but without backing from the town level, you don't have a chance.

And its true that the approval process, construction and then the "running costs" of whatever you decide to do can get pretty expensive pretty quick. That's another factor to consider - the ongoing taxes on a residence. While you'll save mightily on not installing indoor plumbing or central heat or whatever (each "luxury" item adds square meters to the base used to calculate the "rental value" which then drives the tax rate calculation), the mairie is also taking these things into consideration when deciding whether or not to approve the plans.

You mention that you tend to assume that things elsewhere are like they are in the UK. I've discussed that with some friends of mine here in France (all expats) and we're agreed that anglophones (Brits, Americans and other English speaking types) tend to avoid dealing with the town hall like the plague. Here in France, people run to the mairie for just about anything - including (in our town recently) when there are "too many" flies, when you get a weasel in your attic (my Brit friend) and for anything concerning the schools, children or the elderly.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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You mention that you tend to assume that things elsewhere are like they are in the UK. I've discussed that with some friends of mine here in France (all expats) and we're agreed that anglophones (Brits, Americans and other English speaking types) tend to avoid dealing with the town hall like the plague. Here in France, people run to the mairie for just about anything - including (in our town recently) when there are "too many" flies, when you get a weasel in your attic (my Brit friend) and for anything concerning the schools, children or the elderly.
I believe that's the case in most places. Here in Spain if you want to live out the rest of the day you avoid the Ayuntamiento like the plague. Spanish bureaucracy is notoriously painstaking and as such the Brits here tend to stay out of their way.

Particularly if they don't speak Spanish. Oddly enough I speak more French than Spanish.

In most cases when you move to Spain it can take up to 3 months before you can get a resident bank account, pay into the social security system or anything. Leaving most to rely on their EHIC cards for health care.

Some could argue that if I want to live the prehistoric lifestyle I really don't have to move...

I will attempt t contact the Mairie when we decide on a place. I think it may be safe to try somewhere that has already seen alternative structures, on the other hand they might be of the opinion that one is more than enough...who knows-I can but try.

I think that the fact that there are still many cob built structures still standing today may go in my favour. That was my preferred method of constructoin where possible.

I was thinking about something that might get a little more complex though, but again I'm comparing it to British legislation. When you apply for planning permission and it's granted, it then becomes residential land instead of agricultural land, meaning you can't keep animals there. So maybe I'll need to find somewhere with permission for a smallholding? Oh I don't know.

See, I don't mind when it's a laugh and a joke but this stuff is a real mind bender, that's why I'm a little cranky. I'm sure you have your own opinions on caravan man and let me clarify that I don't want to cause the same grief. The whole process is daunting enough without adding "p*ssing off the neighbours" to the equation.

I think people envisage something similar to an allotment shed when they hear my plans :D It's not at all like that but then the proof is in the pudding and I'm ok with that. Talk about pressure though :eek:

I think as you say the Mairie will be the best bet. Time to dust off the French skills :clap2:
 

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I was thinking about something that might get a little more complex though, but again I'm comparing it to British legislation. When you apply for planning permission and it's granted, it then becomes residential land instead of agricultural land, meaning you can't keep animals there. So maybe I'll need to find somewhere with permission for a smallholding? Oh I don't know.
I may have left a slightly faulty impression. You don't apply to change the designation of a property in France. The land is either agricultural or it's buildable (or one of a couple other categories). This is pretty much fixed (other than a couple exceptions for which you have to be a dues-paying farmer) until the town does a complete re-evaluation of the land use within the town - which happens every 20 years or so. This is why you need to talk to the mairie about any piece of land you're thinking about buying - before you buy it.

If you buy a piece of agricultural land, you cannot build anything on it. Period. You would need to buy a piece of land that is at least buildable, then negotiate with the mairie/prefecture what sort of structure you want to put there. You get a permit for the building itself, not for the piece of land.

To get a building permit, you need architectural drawings, but you can do these yourself (as our next door neighbors did when they built an addition onto their house). It is sometimes possible to negotiate "derogations" (legal exceptions) to some of the requirements - like the height or surface area of the building - but for these it really helps to be friendly with the folks in the mairie.

But the good news is that there aren't nearly the kinds of restrictions on what sorts of animals you have have on residential land that you get in the "anglo-saxon" countries. We've got donkeys. Caravan Man has sheep and geese (and used to have a goat). Some folks in the center of our little town used to have goats, and there are a number of people who keep chickens on their property. It doesn't seem to be a big deal.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I may have left a slightly faulty impression. You don't apply to change the designation of a property in France. The land is either agricultural or it's buildable (or one of a couple other categories). This is pretty much fixed (other than a couple exceptions for which you have to be a dues-paying farmer) until the town does a complete re-evaluation of the land use within the town - which happens every 20 years or so. This is why you need to talk to the mairie about any piece of land you're thinking about buying - before you buy it.

If you buy a piece of agricultural land, you cannot build anything on it. Period. You would need to buy a piece of land that is at least buildable, then negotiate with the mairie/prefecture what sort of structure you want to put there. You get a permit for the building itself, not for the piece of land.

To get a building permit, you need architectural drawings, but you can do these yourself (as our next door neighbors did when they built an addition onto their house). It is sometimes possible to negotiate "derogations" (legal exceptions) to some of the requirements - like the height or surface area of the building - but for these it really helps to be friendly with the folks in the mairie.

But the good news is that there aren't nearly the kinds of restrictions on what sorts of animals you have have on residential land that you get in the "anglo-saxon" countries. We've got donkeys. Caravan Man has sheep and geese (and used to have a goat). Some folks in the center of our little town used to have goats, and there are a number of people who keep chickens on their property. It doesn't seem to be a big deal.
Cheers,
Bev
That makes things simpler!

Thanks
 
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<< To get a building permit, you need architectural drawings, but you can do these yourself (as our next door neighbors did when they built an addition onto their house) >>

Only if the total surface area is less than 150 m2. I know this because we were going to convert one of the outbuildings at one point and we just scraped in at 144m2.

Otherwise, you need an architect.
 

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<< To get a building permit, you need architectural drawings, but you can do these yourself (as our next door neighbors did when they built an addition onto their house) >>

Only if the total surface area is less than 150 m2. I know this because we were going to convert one of the outbuildings at one point and we just scraped in at 144m2.

Otherwise, you need an architect.
Oh dear - this just shows how my standards have changed since living here. 150 m2 sounds like a mansion to me these days! :rolleyes:
Cheers,
Bev
 
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