What to check when buying land in the Czech Republic for the construction of a house

In these months, the „escape from the town“ is quite trendy and the demand for land for the construction of a house is extraordinarily high. It is the land for construction that needs to be inspected very thoroughly before purchase because there are a number of traps we can fall in and they might not be obvious at first glance, so if we don´t pay enough attention it may happen that instead of constructing all we´ll be able to do is toast marshmallows or grow potatoes in our plot of land. In principle, three things need to be focused on – access roads, zoning plan and distribution networks.

The land must have legally secured access

Always look in the cadastre at the ownership of the access roads to the plot of land. Without legally secured access you won´t get a building permit for the construction of a house.

  1. The ideal option is that the roads are municipal, in which case we have nothing to worry about.
  2. The second option is that the road is owned or co-owned by the seller of the land and the purchase also includesshare in the land (we no longer have to deal with the pre-emption right, see this article).
  3. Another possibility is that the road is owned by an entity other than the municipality and the servitude of use (easement) is registered on this road in favour of the purchased land (you will find it registered in the title deed of the purchased land in section B1).
  4. The last possibility is that the road is owned by an entity other than the municipality, the purchase won´t include a share in the land or there is no servitude of use registered, in which case it won´t be possible to get a building permit and therefore the purchase can be recommended only as speculation for significantly lower than normal market price.

The land must be designated for construction

What we can build on the land is determined by the zoning plan of the relevant municipality (not by the kind of land that is recorded in the title deed as building plots are usually denoted in the cadastre as arable land or garden). So our journey should first lead to the website of the municipality where the zoning plan is usually available and where we can find the land on the map. We´ll then find out the specification for construction according to the classification as per the individual zones (the zones are colour-coded). If we want to build a house on the plot of land, it should be a zone for living in houses for families. We can find the regulation of construction in the given zone in the textual part of the zoning plan, it usually concerns:

  • minimum size of the plot of land for the construction of a house,
  • land coverage coefficient (maximum size of the built-up area of ​​the plot of land,
  • height restriction of the house,
  • maximum number of floors,
  • roof shape,
  • and other restrictions.

You can also obtain this information in writing from the relevant building authority by requesting zone planning information (form here). In the form, you can make a simplified visualization of your house (floor plan, views and drawing in the plot) and you will receive a specific written answer to your intention.

In any case, when verifying whether the plot of land is designated for construction, I recommend going to the relevant building authority to at least discuss your intention. There may be circumstances that will prevent construction and that won´t be known from public sources. In addition to the building office, visit also the municipal office. It might seem that these are two identical offices but this isn´t the case. The building authority falls under state administration. There are cases, and they aren´t uncommon, when the municipal and building authorities don´t agree on the assessment of the possibility of building on a given plot of land. Even if you get a building permit from the building authority, the municipal authority will appeal against this building permit and the entire building procedure will take ages. The reason may be, for example, that the municipality requires the complete completion of the infrastructure of the area, such as pavements, a bus stop, widening of a road, etc. and until this has been done, it’ll sabotage the building permits.

At the building office, I also recommend asking about the hydrogeological, geological and radon surveys in the given location. You won´t probably do these surveys before buying the plot of land, the employees of the building authority have experience with previous surveys and therefore they will know their probable result concerning your plot of land.

If a rather narrow or unpaved road leads to the plot of land, also ask the building authority if this will result in any restrictions.

The plot of land must be connected to the approved distribution networks or must be easily connected

When talking about distribution networks, we mean water supply, sewerage, electricity and gas. In larger municipalities, all these networks are available, in small municipalities it is usually only electricity and water supplies, heating and hot water are usually provided by an electric boiler and waste by a domestic wastewater treatment plant. Three scenarios can occur:

  1. The ideal situation is that the existing distribution networks are approved (always request proof of approval!), they are handed over to the network administrators and are led in the pillars at the edge of the plot (they are called chapels). Just because you see “chapels” on the spot doesn’t mean that the distribution networks have been approved. You won´t receive a building permit without the distribution networks being approved of.
  2. The second possibility is that there are approved distribution networks in the street but the connections to the plot of land aren´t completed. In such a case, contact your network administrator to ask about the connection. They´ll give us information on where we can connect to the distribution network and we can estimate the cost (there are cases where it´s necessary to dig under a whole road to make the connection to the sewage system or the connection point is very far away, in such cases the cost is high and we should calculate whether the purchase makes economic sense) and they´ll also tell us if it´s possible at all to connect to the distribution network (the reason for the inability to connect is usually lack of capacity).
  3. In case of the existence of unapproved distribution networks, the purchase of the plot of land is risky. I then recommend consulting the local building authority about the current state of the distribution networks and the probability of completing their approval

In conclusion, I´d like to add a few common problems that we can discover with the naked eye when inspecting the land. One of them is the proximity of power lines. There are protection strips along the line, that means we should check the width of the strip by asking the network administrator. Furthermore, we should exercise caution in the vicinity of a stream, pond or any water reservoir. There might be no-construction zones around these bodies of water, e.g. due to the risk of floods. Restrictions in construction can also be caused by the rock, be it next to the plot of land or directly as a part of the land.

I wish you good luck in finding and choosing your plot of land.