Do I need permission to paint the roof of my second home in France?

Different rules may apply depending on the location and status of your home

A man spray-painting a roof blue in France
Painting your roof a different colour will also affect the administrative process

Reader Question: I recently had extension work on my second home, and want to repaint the roof to match. I want to paint it an entirely new colour to what it currently is. Do I need to ask the mairie for permission? 

If you were opting to repaint the roof in its current colour you would not need planning permission to do so. 

However, when you change the external appearance of your house, you will need to submit planning permission. 

You do not need a full permis de construire (used for larger projects), but will need to submit a déclaration préalable de travaux (preliminary works declaration, or DP), as stated in article R421-17 of the Code de l'urbanisme (French planning code).

This is the case both for changing the colour, or tiles, of the roof, or any other external part of your home.

You will also need to be aware of article R111-27 of the planning code. If your home is in a protected area, or one which has a certain cultural heritage, the aesthetic of your property may need to conform with these features, so potentially limiting the changes you can make. 

The article states that changes must “be in harmony with external surroundings and not detract from the character or interest of the surrounding area, the sites, the natural or urban landscapes or the conservation of monument views (landscapes).” 

Your mairie should be able to let you know if you need to adhere to this rule, but you can also check with the national body for French architects (Architecte des Bâtiments de France, ABF) if this is the case.

You can find contact details for your local Unité Départementale de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine – the group responsible for maintaining cultural heritage through buildings – on the ABF website, by entering your postcode.

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Further works may require more planning permission 

Smaller renovation works to the roof alongside repainting or retiling – such as using different materials for your tiles, or adding a window to the roof – will require a DP to be submitted to your local mairie.

If you plan on converting part of your home alongside repainting – for example, a loft conversion – you may need to apply for a full permis de construire

These rules are all the same regardless of whether this is a main residency, second home, gîte, or building used for business purposes. 

If you are unsure of what permission you require, it is recommended to speak to your mairie to discuss the situation before making any application. 

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