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Cob building in France, anyone?  RSS feed

 
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I was wondering if anyone here has any advice re cob building in France, specifically on land that is not 'building land' (fiancé and I just can't afford that).

I did find intricate legal documents that address these concerns, which I'm sure are useful, but for now I just would like to see other people's real-life experiences. There seem to be so many variables that we are a bit lost with it - e.g. if you are lucky with the mayor, do countrywide rules even matter that much... That's the impression I get - mayor's opinion and happy neighbours are more important than anything else.

Especially as foreigners, I don't think we can get away with building - even if it's cob - on agricultural or other non-building land. Except, this seems to be an option if you are conducting agricultural business. I'm afraid that this doesn't apply to immigrants, though.

I found some very positive messages about cob building in France (see below) and the French being supportive of sustainable development, but I also read about France being a bureaucratic minefield and what not...

https://www.angloinfo.com/brittany/discussions/financial-legal/cob-and-straw-bale-construction

Does anyone have a faint idea of what our best chances are? We need to come up with a strategy and I don't expect it to be easy...

Thanks so much in advance.

And if you know anyone who is doing/has done this in France, we would love to know more!

-Rosa
 
pollinator
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Location: Anjou ,France
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Hi Rosa
Yup they just love regulations here in France
A lot in my experiance depends on where you are I know some folks who have used cob but not in a semi legal way  , yurts being more popular .
Where abouts are you or are you looking to stay ? I have known prices of less than 50k for properties that need some work with a couple of acres not far from where I am at the moment

David
 
Rosa Parker
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Hi David, thanks for your message! Well, at least we are used to the level of regulations based on our experience in the Netherlands and UK.

We are actually looking at Bretagne - do you perhaps know if that would be a favourable region/area? Or are others better? I'm sure I've read some good things about the west in terms of eco folks, but that could have been Normandie... In the end it's more about the opportunity that comes up than the location.

Our plan is to live in a tipi for as long as it would take to build a cob house (huge project after all), so that's similar to a yurt.

I forgot to add that we have also thought about buying a ruin as a 'shortcut' to (easier) permission for a cob house. We would probably have to increase our budget, though (around 50k means we have to pay some part through a loan).

Rosa
 
David Livingston
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Location: Anjou ,France
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Brittany is nice particularly if you are into music and dancing like we are
However near the coast is very popular plus near the big towns .
I would draw a big circle round Rennes and fifteen km from the coast if I was looking for a place myself .
Central Brittany is so much cheaper plus if you are bringing children with you or look like you might have some there are many villages in rural France suffering from depopulation who desperately want couples with children to settle there to keep the schools viable . ( just info for other folks reading this thread if this doesn't apply to you .) and consequently you would get a better hearing from the local mayor if you talk about planning .
As for other areas north Anjou south normany ( where we live ) or North Vandee south Anjou are also unfashionable , cheap , good land , climate not too hot .
One word of warning France is undergoing a change of governance where by many of these small districts are being amalgamated into large districts thus lessening the powers of the little mayors ( both a good thing and a bad thing ) and hopefully things may be more professional or at least consistent so it might be prudent to get any agreements in writing should you arrange any ......flexibility:-)
 
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Location: Maisons, Aude, France
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If you are registered as Exploitants Agricole then you have the same rights, and obligations, as French citizens.

As for the cob house, it depends on whether it is classified as a temporary structure or a permanent one. This makes a big difference so it is worth trying to find out. A temporary structure, such as my poly tunnels, do not need a building permit. You have to make a declaration du travail, this can still be turned down by the local Mayor or planning authority, but usually only in environmental grounds.

FYI agricultural land sells at 500E per hectare here in the Haut Corbieres. Check with SAFER who will tell you the average price per hecatre of land in ech department of france

All the best

Pete
 
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Location: France, Burgundy, parc naturel Morvan
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I'm Dutch, what David says is true, rules are unclear in France, but i'd add that it's easier in France to get yourself on land ,for cheaper than in the Netherlands. I know someone who's bought a few hectares and build an atelier. Which is a space that can be max what was it? 4 x 6 m or 4 x 7, can't remember, you're supposed to not stay in it for one night a month, but because he is friendly with the mayor, he's added bits and bobs, left and right , nobody checks. Building so small and then having thick strawbay walls is not very practical though.
The thing is as well they do not like to legalize you after a while, because when they do you can claim your water rights and the commune has to pay for a pipe to your house and you can demand electricity which EDF (energy company of France) ,has to pay, but still, they don't like it.
And then a new mayor can come ,which can not be friendly with foreigners or alternative lifestyles.
But on the other hand they're happy with whoever wants to live there, because young people leave for the cities and old folk remain. The elderly like capable strong friendly young helpfull people around.
I've heard that when you buy a ruin and it's registered on the cadastre(kadaster) which you can check at the mairie you have the right to build it back as was.
Your best bet is focus on a region you really like and meet some dutch/belgian/english/alternative french people who are already there, they've probably got the best valid info for that region and usually are happy to help newcomers.
There's a lot of contradicting info on cob building, according to a friend of mine who has built two cob houses, that is because the earth and clay are different everywhere and lots of websites just parrot content, because it looks cool on their blog to have something on it about cob building, without ever having done it themselves.
 
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Hello fellow immigrees à là françaises😊 We are in the Vienne 86.
We live permanently on leisure land that  has a cabin already constructed when we bought it (17,000€) I think we paid too much 12 yrs ago, we should have offered 12,000€ but we were already exhausted with consumerist britain and not getting any younger we jumped in, eyes shut.
The mairie has been extremely good to us, ignoring that we are living on land not designed to be a residence principale and even feeding us during the world banking crash.

I caution against assuming you will be treated differently if you buy agricultural land. Most  french rural civil servants, I find, are fiercly egalitarian. There is always a few hard-line racists everywhere who spoil the barrel. If you come  across one,  just be polite, do your research and quote the rules. Speak to a colleague and go around them if necessary. Find out who the maire is before you buy.

Our french friends have recently constructed  a small cob hut on building land near to a renovation project with a simple  notice informing the Marie.
Here on our "terrain loisir" we are allowed  to replace our cabin as we see fit, but not to build more  metres  squared than already exists.

In general the French are more welcoming to travelers and anyone on the edges of societies' norms. The community spirit is more stable here and as long as you treat people well I think you will find it reciprocated.
 
jo blick
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Our French friends bought three delapidatedhouses in one lot up near Redon. It was €63,000
Others have land in our village and they ran a building workshop for a temporary hut. They used a choux, (lime) sand and straw mix. They didnt need planning but it is on residential land.

Nantes has a huge eco-friendly history. Brittany is generally more wild and militant. More varied. My favourite too. I would go there ifI could afford to move.
We are living back on our non-residential plot and the mairie have not bothered us. Its visible from the road. They know who we are. But as i say it already has ahunting cabin. Building on blank non agricultural land it is not a good plan unless you are seriously developing it for something permi-like mushroom farming etc..
The prices of residential permit land is definitely cheap enough here I would buy that if I had.my choice a secondtime..
 
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