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The 8 key points for building in a protected sector

construction in a protected area is subject to the opinion of the ABF

Table of contents

Do you want to build in a protected area? Don't panic, let's turn this constraint into an opportunity! The construction of your new house is an exciting project, which sometimes requires respecting constraints, particularly when the desired land is located in an architectural zone protected by Buildings of France. Steeped in history and remarkable architecture, these areas are often highly coveted but sometimes require some architectural concessions. Should we fear theABF in new construction?

Building permit submission: when to consult the architect of buildings in France?

To find out if your land to build is located in a protected sector, you must inquire at your town hall. If so, your permission is subject to theopinion of the architect of buildings of France of your department. Its role is to help preserve and promote quality architecture. On the website of the Ministry of CultureAtlas of heritage, simply enter the address of your land to determine if it is located in ABF sector.

Building in a protected area: a long-term choice

The choice to build in ABF zone must be carefully considered. Indeed, compliance with the recommendations of thearchitect of French buildings does not only involve construction. Its agreement will therefore be necessary subsequently for the carrying out of certain works. Indeed, theABF opinion is also necessary for a development permit, a demolition permit and even for a prior declaration of work, when the latter has the effect of modifying protected spaces, built or natural. Changing the color of the shutters, or modifying the facade will therefore require consultation with the ABF.

What measures can the architect of French buildings impose?

The general requirements of the ABF apply to all buildings located in a historic area. These rules may concern the form and style of the house to build like its exterior appearance. The obligations can range from the color of the shutters to the use of certain construction materials on the roof or facade, the implementation of particular joinery or even imposing particular garden arrangements (fence, gate, etc.). Decisions can also concern your energy choices and your thermal comfort, by limiting the use of photovoltaic or thermal panels or exterior heat pump modules, etc.

Zone of 500 meters around a monument requiring ABF to build your house.
Map indicating the protection zones around historic monuments of the heritage atlas site.


Which areas are affected?

Un saved sector corresponds to a geographical area protected because of its heritage interest. It may be the surroundings of historic monuments, classified sites or registered, their surroundings and the buildings attached to them.
So if you own a building whose conservation is of historical interest, it will generally not be possible to destroy it to rebuild a new property on this land. Likewise, the addition of an extension or the addition of a new building cannot be done without the agreement of thearchitect of historical monuments.
Classified sites can also be natural spaces.

Building near a historic monument

Of the 400 opinions given annually by the architects of Bâtiments de France (ABF), more than half concern the surroundings of historic monuments. In the absence of a demarcated perimeter, this zone is located within the field of visibility of a historic monument and placed less than 500 meters of it. The situation is therefore common when one wishes build in city center or in a village, because our South-West regions are full of heritage treasures.


Go through a house builder to avoid refusals

For home builder, the objective is to save time and avoid refusals of building permits. A professional like Maisons Sic, well established locally, knows the area perfectly, its constraints and the requirements of architects of French buildings in each area. To meet the wishes of its customers, it will also have developed ranges which harmonize with different regional styles.

Discover here the Pyrenees line of Sic houses, high-performance houses with traditional architecture offering multiple layout compositions.

Present a summary preliminary draft to the ABF:

After having inquired at the town hall and having consulted the PLU to find out the broad outlines of the constraints imposed on your project, the builder carries out a draft.
The latter will be subject to theABF and contains a site plan of the project (section plan, mass plan, facade plan, etc.), photographs, and the description of the work envisaged (materials, etc.). The architect will give his opinion and recommendations. These will therefore be used to develop the final preliminary project which will be necessary to apply for your building permit.

For more information read our article: Building your detached house in the South West: the steps

the wooden house permitted even in a protected area
This wooden house built by Maison Sic on the Arcachon basin uses the elements and style of traditional local architecture to fit harmoniously into its environment.

Why is building around historic monuments advantageous?

– The French regions are rich in their varied architecture. Local know-how, the materials present on the site and adaptation to the climate and topography have shaped instantly recognizable regional house styles.
Imagine building your home in a setting steeped in history and heritage. It is a chance to become an integral part of this territory by integrating harmoniously into your future place of life.
– Compliance with heritage rules can also add value to your property. Properties located in protected areas often have added value, thanks to the owners' commitment to preserving heritage.

Rather than being considered as obstacles, the architectural zones of Bâtiments de France can be seen as unique opportunities. Builders may be required to design innovative projects that respect local heritage. The rich historical context can become a source of inspiration, leading to the creation of homes that fit perfectly into their surroundings, whilst providing a contemporary touch.



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