Developing plots of land

Developing a plot of land to build a house

As soon as a plot has been declared as building land and there is an intention to build on it, the land must be developed. Planning permission for a new building cannot be granted until development is complete. For any home-builder with a plot of land that has not previously been built on, development the first step on the way to building your own home. Depending on the location of the plot and regional regulations, development costs vary greatly. As a future home-builder, you should seek information in general about public development costs and the practices of the relevant local authority in advance to ensure you embark on the project of “building a dream home” with a good feeling. But what does developing a plot of land actually mean? 


What is involved in developing a plot of land?

During the development, a distinction is made between two areas which meet on the plot boundary. The area up to the boundary of the plot is a public development. From the plot boundary up to the actual house, it is an internal or private development. The land becomes a developed plot only after completion of the public and private development. 

Each of these developments involves different steps. For example, a plot of land needs to be developed for traffic access. Depending on the location of the plot, the development will include different work in connection with road building, street lighting and pavements. After the plot boundary, paved access routes to the house and garage or parking space are required. On completion, the plot needs to be fully accessible. 

Technical development of a plot of land

Technical development of the plot takes place in parallel. This means connecting the plot to supply networks (water/wastewater, electricity, gas, internet, telephone and cable television). 

Important: A plot can only be developed if it has been advertised as building land in the local authority development plan. 

The question as to the process for developing a plot of land has different answers. The work will vary depending on the location of your plot. For example, if a pavement already exists, this step will not be required in the public development. If a garage or a parking space is planned on the plot, appropriate access routes must be planned in the public development. The technical development includes connecting your plot to: 

  • energy supplies such as geothermal energy, district heating, gas and electricity 
  • the available telecommunication network 
  • sewerage, drainage systems for rain water or to public wastewater systems 
  • local drinking water and fire water supply 

Complications and long distances will drive up public development costs. Before starting the internal development, you will need to establish a few details in relation to the actual construction. As a minimum, the location of the property on the plot of land, whether or not there will be a garage, a parking space or car port. Depending on the size of the plot, other buildings might need to be planned, including electricity and water, or patios with lighting, before the internal development. Any structural measures developed later will result in higher costs on developed plots. 


Who is responsible for developing a plot of land?

The local authority handles the public development, which is requested from the local authority by you as the owner. In the public development process, home-builders are simply applicants and invoice recipients. The local authority handles the organisation of tasks and ordering of the works. A secured development means you receive a positive decision from the local authority following your application. 

As the home-builder, you are responsible for the internal development. The majority of this work cannot start until the public development is complete. Talk to your architect and the building company at this point to coordinate everything efficiently.   

Costs for a development

Costs involved in developing a plot of land

Development costs vary greatly and depend on local and regional regulations. The local authority can invoice landowners up to 90 per cent of technical development costs and up to 70 percent of public development costs in the case of work to provide road access. The value is specified in the municipal statutes. 

Factors such as the location of the plot also influence development costs. For instance, if your plot is in the middle of a housing estate – e.g, a partitioned plot – some steps will not be fully applicable. The public development costs for a plot of land in the middle of existing infrastructure will be lower. The proximity of the plot to distribution centres for local supply networks will also be a factor in costs. Because long supply and drainage pipes naturally cost more. 

Check the standard land value map

Before purchasing a plot, you should procure the standard land value map from the local authority. This provides details of the land value and development contribution: if you see the abbreviation “ebf”, this stands for the German word “erschließungsbeitragsfrei” and means that no development contribution applies, so no payment is required from the owner. “EbP” means that the development contribution does apply and as a future home-builder, you will need to pay this contribution. 

Type of connection        Approximate costs 
Power supply 2,000 to 3,000 euros
Water supply 2,000 to 5,000 euros
Gas supply line 2,000 euros

Telecommunications network

1,000 euros

In some cases, a gas supply line may be either not necessary or not possible. If you decide to install an oil condensing boiler instead, the costs for a single-family house will be between 4,000 and 7,000 euros . A modern pellet heating system will cost around 3,000 to 12,000 euros. Additional costs for surveying the plot and the required geotechnical reportwill also need to be factored in. The costs for this are generally between 2,500 and 4,000 euros

  Any home-builder needs to consider the following question in relation to financing at this stage: What will it cost to develop a plot of land? In total, you should budget for an amount between 10,000 and 15,000 euros , depending on the local authority contribution. 

  Furthermore: the local authority has a period of four years to invoice you the development costs for your building plot. It rarely takes this long, but to avoid any surprises down the line it’s best to ask sooner rather than later. Because the invoice will inevitably arrive at some point. 

For the private development , you should budget costs of 1,000 euros per metre for supply lines and pipes on your building plot. Discuss this with the architect and the building company to allow you to set an approximate value. 

Good to know: as modernisation work, development costs are tax deductible. 

Development period

The time required to develop land for building depends mainly on the processing time of the local authority. You submit your application and then wait for the authority to initiate the required work steps for the development as quickly as possible. From experience, the development period is at least six months. Owners can politely ask the building authority in advance how long the public development is likely to take to allow them to approximately plan the private development. But even at this stage: anyone who takes on a building project needs strong nerves and a lot of patience.