Building a raised or single-storey terrace: what regulations?


That’s it, you have the material, the tools and know how to go about it: your future terrace is soon there, you will start building it. You calculated the costs and as a skilled handyman decided to do without the talents of a professional.

But are you aware of the regulations? Did you find out about the local urban plan, on the need to file a building permit? Because in height or at ground level, the construction of a terrace does not generate the same requirements. If you are planning to build a patio, especially if it is raised, it is best to do it in advance, while doing all the necessary administrative procedures. Yes to breakfasts outside, to meals in the sun, to evenings outside, but you still need to be sure to follow the regulations in force at the time of construction to fully enjoy them.

What do we mean by raised terrace and single-storey terrace?

A single-storey terrace is a terrace at ground level, that is to say it is the exact extension of your home. A raised terrace does not rest directly on the ground but in height. It is like on stilts. This type of terrace is recommended if your land is sloping. For example, if the base of your house is a meter or higher than your garden, posts – and a structure, will make up for this difference. But if you are planning an elevated patio, you should definitely ask for permissions. Familiarize yourself with the Local Urban Plan (PLU) because the construction of a terrace depends on it. And if you are part of a condominium, see with the syndicate what is possible.

What are the regulations for a single-storey terrace?

If you are building an uncovered single-storey terrace, you have no prior declaration of work to be done. On the other hand, if you find yourself in the case where your terrace measures between 5 and 20 square meters and it has an awning or a roof, you must make a declaration of work.

What are the regulations for an elevated terrace?

As a general rule, if your patio exceeds 20 square meters, a building permit is required from a height of sixty centimeters, since it is a free-standing structure. Likewise, in accordance with building regulations, a staircase with a handrail and a balustrade must be fixed all around. Stable timbers are needed as a substructure for a wooden deck. A raised patio requires a stable foundation into which your support posts will later be placed at a distance of one meter. To do this, dig a hole and fill it with sand for a flat surface and gravel for drainage. Then you can lay your posts. Once the support posts are in place, a slatted frame should be laid out of grating or wooden planks. It is advisable to choose high quality, durable and stable wood. You can also raise your patio through the masonry. It is this type of construction that you will have to choose if you opt for a terrace with a coating such as concrete, stone or tiles.

As said before, if your terrace exceeds 20 square meters and is more than 60 centimeters high, you must apply for a building permit. If your future project is planned to measure between 5 and 20 square meters then a prior declaration of work to your municipality is a prerequisite. Finally, if your raised terrace is less than 5 square meters, no formalities are required.

How to file a building permit for your patio?

The procedures for applying for a building permit are as follows:

  • Go to your town hall to submit a building permit application file.
  • Do not start the work but wait for the issuance of the building permit decree: the examination of the file by the town hall of your municipality can take several weeks or several months.
  • Display your building permit on your land: anyone who walks past your home must be able to read it.
  • Send your declaration of opening of works to the town hall.
  • Send a declaration of completion at the end of your work, always to the town hall of your municipality.
  • Finally, the administration will carry out a check and send you a certificate of conformity.

Deck construction: in short, what to remember about authorization

  • If your patio is expected to measure less than 20 square meters, you will be exempt from applying for a building permit.
  • If your terrace is expected to measure less than 20 square meters and is raised more than 60 centimeters in height, you must declare your work in advance.
  • If your terrace is expected to measure more than 20 square meters and is raised more than 60 centimeters in height, then you will need to apply for a building permit.
  • If you live in a classified or historic place, find out what happens to be sure to comply with the regulations in force.
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