Overall construction activity

In 2021, the construction activity in France rose by 10.5% in volume, after a fall by 14.4% in 2020 caused by the pandemic crisis. Despite this recovery, the activity remained 5,4 % under the 2019 pre-crisis level. For 2022, the production growth rate should slow down with an increase by 3.5%. 

Despite the crisis and recruitment difficulties, the sector has experienced a massive creation of 45,000 jobs in 2021. This positive trend on employment should continue in 2022, with 30,000 additional jobs created.


Considering the base effect that results from the drastic drop in 2020 (-24.2%), the housebuilding production soared by 24.1% in constant prices in 2021 but remained 5.8% lower than the pre-crisis level. Housing starts rebound to 390 000 units, returning to its 2019 level and 30,000 units above their long-term average, while building permits grew by 4.9% over two years. Mainly due to the dynamic in the individual housing segment, various factors could explain this increase, such as, the anticipation of the future Environmental regulation (RE2020), the regulatory implementation of the banking regulator’s recommendations and the zero net land artificialization (ZAN).

In 2022, thanks to a high stock of dwellings permits from 2021, housing starts may increase by 2.1 % to reach around 400 000 units. Thus, considering the usual delays of production, the housebuilding activity may increase by 7.3%. In contrast, housing permits should fall by 7.8% in reaction to 2022 regulations cited above. 

Furthermore, the housing rehabilitation and maintenance market registered an increase by 7.8% in 2021, to reach its pre-pandemic level. This activity was mainly supported by the energy renovation works, which were boosted with “Ma PrimeRénov’” scheme extended in the French recovery plan. For 2022, a growth by 4.3% in volume is expected, driven both by energy renovation works and other works arising from the significant numbers of existing dwellings transactions observed over the past three years.

GDP 2021




Total investment in construction in 2021


Non-residential construction

In 2021, the non-residential buildings’ activity rose by 8.7% at constant prices over one year but fell by 10.5% in comparison to 2019. All market segments contributed to this trend. Moreover, the surfaces increased by 5.6% to reach 25.1 million square metres of floor areas. However, this level remains 3.3 million square metres below 2019's level and 6.8 million square metres beneath the long-term average. 

For 2022, the non-residential buildings’ activity may rise by 2.2%, though the level of production shall remain 6.3% lower than 2019's record. Most of the markets shall participate in this general trend, except for retail stores (-1.5% between 2021 and 2022), which are strongly affected in terms of permits (-7.0% in the same period) by the e-commerce’s expansion.   

Despite the French recovery plan and an annual growth of 3.5%, the rehabilitation and maintenance market of non-residential buildings did not recover its 2019 level in 2021 (-6.1%). Indeed, the renovation works on state-owned buildings planned in “France Relance” have started only in the second half of the year. The expected effects of the energy renovation of these buildings shall contribute more to the activity in 2022.

Civil engineering

After a sharp drop in activity in 2020 due to the coronavirus crisis, public works sector is recovering in France in 2021 (+10%, in nominal terms) but is remaining at a lower level than 2019 (-4%). In 2022, two years after local elections and thanks to the French recovery plan, public works is waiting for investments, in particular from local authorities which hold around 50% of the activity and are expected to increase by 6%.

The first semester of 2022 might still be uncertain because companies must cope with two other problems: production costs that keeps getting higher and higher and limiting and challenging recruitments. The rebound in activity is therefore expected for the second semester of 2022.

Regarding overseas activity, exports amounted to €34 billion in 2020 and stand for 45% of the overall civil engineering turnover. French public work exports have more than doubled in 15 years. Although Europe remains the main export market (50% of total exports), French companies are increasingly targeting new markets (Africa, Asia, Middle East, etc.).

Per cent variation of production in real terms on previous year
production Mln. € fixed prices
  Sectors 2021a 2018 2019 2020 2021a 2022b
1. Building 125,812 1.1 1.0 -15.2 12.0 4.2
    1.1. Housebuilding 74,588 -0.1 -0.5 -15.1 14.5 5.6
       1.1.1. New 32,988 -0.7 -1.3 -24.2 24.1 7.3
       1.1.2. Renovation 41,599 0.4 0.2 -7.4 7.8 4.3
    1.2. Non residential (c) 51,224 2.9 3.1 -15.5 8.7 2.2
       1.2.1. Private 29,259 2.9 4.5 -15.9 9.9 3.1
       1.2.2. Public 21,966 2.8 1.4 -14.9 7.1 1.0
2. Civil Engineering 37,163 7.0 2.4 -11.6 5.5 1.0
(1 + 2) Total Construction 162,975 2.4 1.3 -14.4 10.5 3.5
a: estimate - b: forecast - c: incl. R&M


Number of building permits in residential construction
  2018 2019 2020 2021a 2022b
single dwelling 184.700 186.750 171.690 215.670 196.109
collective dwelling 277.700 263.750 222.210 256.730 239.656
other types of dwelling N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Total 462.400 450.500 393.900 472.400 435.765
(Collective dwellings and other types of buildings: in number of flats)