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Buying land: be interested in what’s beyond its borders

Do you intend to buy land or build on it? What technical details should you be interested in when buying and building? Why are the boundaries of the site important for building and what distance to choose from them and from adjacent buildings in the vicinity during construction? This is the focus of today’s article.

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Chapters of the article

The conditions under which it is possible to build on a given area are set out in the General Building Act, the Ordinance on General Requirements for the Use of Territory and the zoning plan. All residential buildings, family holiday homes and accommodation facilities (such as hotels or guest houses) must comply with these regulations. So if you want to build a house, you must not forget them.

Connection to utility networks

One of the key factors for locating a building on a plot of land is the connection to public utilities. Without a properly designed connection to these networks, you will not be granted planning permission. This includes connections to water, sewerage, gas and electricity. So if you are buying land, you should check the possibilities of connecting to the networks. Ideally you should have access to the networks right on the boundary of the property. If the public utilities are more than 50 metres away, you will need to establish new access, which can make building significantly more expensive. Another complication can arise if the networks end at a neighbour’s property, for example. Then an easement would need to be negotiated.

On the other hand, it may happen that the networks are located nearby but end in front of a class I or II road that runs past your property. This can also be a big problem, as these roads cannot be dug up or undermined as you wish.

Tip: Planning to build a house or buy a flat? Or have you even started? How big a house and with how much floor space are you allowed to build? How do you know if a highway will pass by your house and a shopping centre will be built on the adjacent land? What do you find out in the zoning plan? We have written answers to this in a separate article on zoning

Are you buying or selling a property?

We provide a complete legal service related to the purchase or sale of real estate, including a reservation contract and escrow of the purchase price. We can also help with land registry and taxes. We can handle it quickly and flawlessly so you don’t have to worry about a thing. You can pay after the service has been provided.

Access road

Your new building should also be connected to the public road network. It is assumed that you want to be able to get to your house by car or taxi, to allow the arrival of not only your friends, but especially the delivery driver, the fire brigade or the health service in case of emergency.

Also for these cases it is necessary to deal with the surrounding land and if yours does not yet have an entrance, then to provide one.

Here again, it may be that the only possible access is through a neighbour’s property. In such a case, it is necessary to agree with the neighbour on the establishment of an easement and if no agreement is possible, then everything can be resolved through the court. However, the right to establish an easement is not guaranteed by law.

Tip: The content of a real burden is that the owner of a certain thing must actively give or do something. An example of a real burden is often referred to as an exchange, where the obligor provides the beneficiary with housing but also provides maintenance or personal care. We have discussed easements and servitudes in more detail in our separate article.

It is important to meet engineering standards to establish a new access road. You must consult with the traffic inspectorate before submitting the project to the building authority for approval.

Setback from the neighbouring house

When building a house, it is crucial to follow the rule that neither the house nor any part of it must encroach on the neighbouring property. You must also not restrict the ability to build on the neighbouring property. Buildings must comply with various distance criteria, e.g. in terms of hygiene standards, environmental protection, fire safety, lighting and access to sunlight, maintenance of buildings and use of the space between them, etc.

Separate houses should be spaced at least 7 metres apart, which in practice can be quite restrictive and historic houses could not be rebuilt in this way. Where space is limited the distance can be reduced to 4 metres. However, here the condition that there are no windows to living rooms in the opposite walls must be met. Therefore, if there is no window on the wall in question, or if it only leads to a corridor, there should be no major problem with the construction. However, you must still obtain an exemption.

The actual distance of buildings is measured from external walls, balconies and terraces, and does not take into account, for example, the distance of the roof covering from the neighbouring property.

Distance from property boundaries

Legislation states that youshould place yourbuilding at least 2 metres from the property boundary. Again, you can make an exception and place your house or garage, which is connected to the use of the house, right on the boundary of the property. However, in this case there must be no openings in the wall, i.e. no windows or doors. Historically, however, there was no such boundary and houses stood directly on the line of the street. At the same time, it should be stressed that even if this condition is met, there is no entitlement to obtain an exemption. First of all, it will depend on whose property is on the other side of the boundary, whether there is also a building located there and, above all, whether the neighbour agrees to the exemption.

Setback from the road

You must also keep a minimum distance of at least three metres from the edge of the carriageway of the road or local road. Exceptions are made for buildings located in the gaps of terraced housing.

I don’t like the neighbour’s plans for the development

But what if you yourself have met all the technical and legal requirements but your neighbour is ignoring them? Is he planning to “stick” his house on the very boundaries of the plot and place the windows towards you? First of all, you can rest assured that the building authority itself will not allow such a construction in violation of the regulations. Moreover, when the neighbour applies for the location of the building, you are a party to the proceedings. You can object to the plan to the extent that your right is affected. This may relate, for example, to the size of the building, shading, possible immissions, etc.

The building authority will evaluate these objections and make a decision based on them. If they are not accepted or not taken into account, you can appeal as an affected person. If the building authority has forgotten to include you as a party to the proceedings, you should take legal action against the planned location of the building to protect your neighbouring rights.

If the neighbour goes ahead with the construction despite the prohibition (or non-permission), it will be an unauthorised or black building, which you can report.

The relevant procedure concerning unauthorised construction falls entirely within the competence of the competent building authority. Therefore, if the building authority finds that the construction is being carried out without the relevant permit, it must ex officio initiate proceedings for the removal of the construction.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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