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Disabled access


val douest

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Friends of ours have just completed the restoration of a large derelict barn.  The lower floor will be used as an exhibition space and they have conformed to all the rules and regulations relating to disabled access to the gallery, toilets etc,  The upper floor, accessed by a wide curved staircase, has been divided into two self-contained studio units, the idea being that artists or other creative people might like to rent this space for a couple of months at a time.  However, an architect unconnected with the project has just informed them that if they want to advertise the units for rent, they will have to install a lift so they can be accessed by disabled people.  This would simply not be possible in the existing space.

They realise that regulations applying to new-build properties may be different from those governing existing buildings.  Their studios are not 'new-build' as the barn has been restored to its original state but the purpose of the building has obviously changed.

Can anyone give me any information which may help, or provide any links to regulations which may shed some light on their dilemma?

Many thanks

Val
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Try http://www.loi-handicap.fr

There are some simple explanations on access at http://www.cabinetsavocats.com/droit-civique/handicapes.php

From the sound of all the works and the change of use your friends have, in effect, created a new building in the eyes of the law. Certainly all the buildings works will have been treated as 'new build' attracting full TVA at 19,6%.

Presumably your friends took advice on their business plan before starting work?

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[quote user="Polly"]
edited quote:     Presumably your friends took advice on their business plan before starting work?
[/quote]

You've hit the nail on the head; so many people just don't do the research!!

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They have in fact worked closely with the DDE and the Mairie from the very start and the public space on the ground floor has been designed more as an amenity which will benefit the commune and surrounding area than as a money-making venture.  The comment about the need for a lift for the studios upstairs came from an architect who sometimes 'signs off'  buildings as meeting all DDE requirements before they are then registered at the Mairie; their own architect - now sadly very ill - and DDE officials with whom they have liaised had never mentioned such a requirement and they would prefer to know where they stand with the regulations before opening a potential can of worms.

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Val, the reason I asked about your friends business planning is that they need to be sure where they are going in terms of public access (with appropriate public liability insurance) and private/business spaces, let alone how they register income from the project. They might have said 'X' to their architect and to the DDE whereas they should perhaps have said 'X but....'

Are the studio units solely residential units, which could be classified as holiday lets, or commercial/artistic working spaces with/without living accommodation?

There are so many questions to ask and be answered before anyone can give sound advice.

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The building is owned and operated by an SCI formed for that purpose. The whole of the downstairs area is available for public access and has been designed, constructed, described and insured as such.  The two self-contained studios (studio in the sense of one living room and bedroom combined) are laid out purely as holiday lets but have been designed to appeal to creative people.  No business of any kind would be operated from the flats: if artists or writers or photographers subsequently sold anything they had created during their time there then that would be outside the control of the proprietors.   Thanks, Polly, for your input - hope that helps in the way of additional information.

 

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Then I would take the 'système D' approach, the practical one!

Tootle along with what they've done, letting the studios as holiday lets and declaring their income under whatever tax régime they choose.

If, down the line, any issues are raised they can be dealt with as & when. I doubt there will be any.

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