Keeping people honest
Your house must fit in with the local urbanism plan, and they frown on changing colours especially when it’s in view of historical monuments or listed buildings. Paint your house in the same tone, no problems. Paint it bright red when it was light grey, then you could have planning problems.
So you make your work declaration, that they have to approve or reject within a month for most “small” work, and a full planning permission for bigger stuff (like a full extension rather than a conservatory), where you need to describe what you are doing, and possibly require an architect to sign off on the safety of the plans and work.
As for pools, if they required masonry work (ie: built in ground in any way), it requires planning permission, a construction tax, and as it improves your property value, an increase of your annual housing tax. Same for extensions, as they increase your living space, and your housing tax is based on the surface.
The tax office can bang you for up to 5 years of unpaid tax on those changes, at an increased rate plus possibly a fine on top, and your local town hall may then take offense at the unplanned changes.
If you are lucky, get it declared properly on the land register if it didn’t break many/any planning rules and building regulations, otherwise they can make you take it down at your expense.
As a home buyer the last thing you want is to pay full market rate for a large property only to find that the waste water is borked, the foundations are not to code and it starts leaking and subsiding… and you overpaid by a LOT for a lemon - or worse find that extra extension goes over your property lines, you have to take it down at your expense, then try to find the previous owner and have it out in court… it happens more than you think… especially as French planning permission is not hard. Slow at times, but this sort of thing is done and dusted in a month…. So it’s just pure tax evasion really.
I’m fine with it if it as it will help keep people honest and protect buyers from bad workmanship on non-declared construction and renovation, and it’s been a long time coming.