Dream of a detached house with garden fades in France

Rising building materials is one of the factors identified in the reduction of newly built detached houses

Newly built detached houses with gardens, such as this one in Correze, are becoming rarer and rarer in France

The dream of building a new house with a garden appears to be fading for people in France.

Property commentators are basing this on figures from the Fédération Française du Bâtiment (FFB), which show only 96,000 detached homes were built in 2022.

This compares with an average of 125,000 new homes a year in the period 2007-21.

Economic constraints, including a doubling of the price of most raw materials for building last year, rising interest rates, and government restrictions on lending/income ratios used for home loans, were all identified as factors by the FFB in its annual report.

However, the media also claimed political opposition to stand-alone houses was making planning permission harder to come by.

In 2021, then-housing minister Emmanuelle Wargon said that detached houses were “ecological, economic and social nonsense”.

Former housing minister Emmanuelle Wargon’s views on individual houses caused huge controversy in 2021 Pic: lfonso Abaca Press / Alamy Banque D’Images

The resulting outcry contributed to her losing her ministerial job, not least because she owns a 150m² house with garden in one of the towns north of Paris.

However, her sentiments were reflected in France’s far-reaching Climate and Resilience Law, passed in 2021.

It said that mayors should aim for net zero land use by 2050 in their communes, meaning that by then they must have rules in place banning any new buildings on greenfield sites.

The 2050 timeline includes a requirement that the amount of land given over to new buildings must be halved by 2030.

It means mayors with communal building projects – new schools, crèches and sports halls are the perennial favourites – planned before then are reluctant to see their land quota used up by individual houses.

In its report, the FFB predicted a 2.6% fall in new homes – individual houses as well as flats – built in France this year and called on the government to take a number of measures to support the building industry.

Top of the list was an easing of restrictions on the lending and income ratios imposed by the Banque de France for home loans, which the bank did on a temporary basis in February.

A spokeswoman for FFB told The Connexion that it was too early to say if this had had a positive effect, “but it is a sign the government is listening.”

Other measures the FFB would like to see include an indexation of regulated prices, and tax credits to compensate for the extra costs involved with the RE2020 building standards.

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