Anyone planning a construction project has to pay attention to a few things. For example, various documents have to be filled out precisely and finally submitted to the responsible authorities.

Is it necessary to submit a building application?

A building application must always be submitted when the project is subject to approval. This can be determined by the building authority, by a service provider in the industry, by a civil engineer or by an architect. If the procedure is circumvented, although it is prescribed, negative consequences can be expected on various levels. So you will have to be prepared for both financial losses and legal penalties. The probability is high that the entire structure will have to be removed again. In the worst case scenario, such an illegal construction can endanger the livelihood of the client.

Can a building owner realize a building application without a service provider?

For the first part, which initially involves preparing the building application, the builder does not need a service provider and also benefits from their own activity. Because overall the whole project will be cheaper that way. You can also use high-quality architecture software, for example, with which you can test your own ideas. It is then possible to exchange ideas with the service provider online, for example by sending the document in PDF format and obtaining feedback. It is then no problem to make changes to the previous template yourself. However, the submission of the application to the office can only be carried out by a service provider, as this then acts as the person responsible and contact person for the building authority. The architect, craftsman or civil engineer must therefore check the building application beforehand.

Do all construction projects require a permit?

With regard to building permits, there are differences depending on the federal state. It is therefore worthwhile to read through the respective guidelines, which are often available as PDFs. In Bavaria, for example, it is possible to build garages up to 50 square meters and in Baden-Württemberg up to 30 square meters without a separate permit. Nonetheless, attention must always be paid to the urban development plan, which must be adhered to. So even if no permit is required, the authority should receive a building notice.

What is a development plan?

Every city and municipality has its own development plan. In this you can read which areas may be used for construction purposes and in which way. Among other things, the size of the building plots, the community areas and the traffic areas play a role. Likewise, in some buildings the residential units that can be built are limited. But the other way around, it can happen that the number of parking spaces per residential unit is specified in advance. The regulation is then independent of whether these are used or not. Because the development plans of a city or municipality can be viewed, it is possible to make predictions about future additional buildings in the area. This makes it more clear to the client whether his project is likely to pay off for him personally.

Small approval process as a basis

A small approval process is initiated before the purchase. Because in this way you will receive all the necessary information about the next steps and the requirements to be complied with from the building authority. This is generally used to provide a better overview of what needs to be done by the builder now. This also makes it clear whether the purchase will be worthwhile at all. Depending on the authority and state, the costs for a small approval process can vary. On average, a value of 150 euros can be assumed.

Advantage of the small approval process for the builder

Everything that resulted from the approval process and was communicated to the client remains legally valid and can no longer be changed. Even if errors are detected afterwards, this must not be detrimental to the applicant. For this reason, you should definitely keep the documents so that evidence is available for any later uncertainties, inquiries or discrepancies.

What must a building application contain?

The following documents must be submitted in each federal state, regardless of the size of the respective construction project:

  • Application form: If you go to the website of the competent authority, it is usually possible to download the relevant PDF document. Otherwise you either have to pick up the form personally at the office or have it sent to you by post.
    Site plan: If a property has not yet been purchased, the site plan can be requested from the land surveying office. Otherwise you get this together with the purchase of a property.
  • Open space plan: The same applies to this plan as to the site plan.
    Construction drawings that have different scales
  • Information: on water supply, property drainage and road development

In order to receive relevant information from the previous owners, it is important that the building owner is already entered in the land register. A power of attorney is required if an architect or civil engineer is to obtain this information. This is only legally binding if it is evident that the owner has commissioned the civil engineer or architect to do so.

Other necessary documents

In addition to the mandatory documents, there may be additional documents depending on the area. These include, for example:

  • Neighborhood declaration: Since the neighborhood often has the opportunity to veto the project, it is advisable to speak to all affected neighbors before the start of the measures in order to directly avoid later discrepancies. Often it is actually personal and not objective reasons why neighbors reject the building project. It is therefore helpful to speak to them in a friendly manner in good time. With the feeling that they have not been disregarded, they are far more likely to agree. However, a mandatory signature from the neighbors is not required in order to receive the permit. If the project is not subject to approval, the neighbors must at least be informed about the plan.
  • Declaration of tree existence: In some cities and municipalities, precise planting is required. If tree damage occurs as a result of the construction, compensation must be provided so that the level afterwards corresponds exactly to the previous one.

You will be informed about further required documents either via the small approval procedure or via the appropriate authority.

Important instructions

A building application, which includes several documents and drawings, must be submitted in the correct order. In addition, one must not forget to personally sign each and every document. The entire building application must still be submitted three times, mostly in folders with the colors green, yellow and blue.

Number of documents

After the building authority has carefully checked all three folders, the folders are distributed. The folder, which remains with the authority, fulfills the function that it can be accessed immediately in the event of problems or inquiries. A folder is kept in the archive of the respective authority. This means that at a later point in time, possibly even after ten years, it is possible to check which agreements have been made. Copies of the existing documents can also be made at any time. The last folder is intended for the building owner, who on the one hand can check the requirements again and again and on the other hand can prove the legal validity of the implementation of the necessary steps. As a serious construction company, no construction will take place without the presentation of this folder by the architect or client.

Submit the actual building application

With the architect or the authority, you can find out which building authority or building authority the documents must be submitted to. However, the submission must be carried out by an architect, an appropriate civil engineer or a professional service provider. Depending on the federal state and authority, it is possible to send the documents by post or to bring them over personally. This can also depend, for example, on whether a procedure that does not require a permit, a simplified procedure or a comprehensive building application is to be initiated. With the simplified procedure, not all aspects of the application have to be checked. If there are no special structures, which would include schools, high-rise buildings, hospitals or garages, the simplified procedure is usually approved.

In principle, it is always better to appear directly at the authority, because it can be checked immediately whether everything has been observed and the forms are complete. It is legitimate for a representative to take on this task instead of the client, in which case a power of attorney or a contract must be available. As soon as the building application has been declared complete, you will receive a confirmation of receipt, which you should keep in any case. If documents are still missing, receipt will still be confirmed, but with a deadline by when the remainder must be available. Furthermore, one should be aware that a successful examination by the building supervisory authority does not automatically go hand in hand with a building permit. The request is only accepted or rejected in the course of the building permit process.

Submit the documents on time

Even if it can be assumed that delays can occur because you cannot do all the document procurements yourself, the deadline must be taken into account. If this is not possible, this means that you have to re-apply for everything and re-submit all documents and forms that have been delivered so far. Alternatively, it is possible to ask for an extension of the deadline at an early stage. Usually this is not a problem. In addition, there are no additional costs for submitting the building application again.

Verification of the progress by the client

Some authorities make portals available to show the building owner how far the application process has progressed so far. This also has the advantage that you don’t have to keep asking the authority directly, but can see the status of the processing yourself. With the resulting better time planning, one can prepare more ideally for the further steps of the construction process. To register on a corresponding portal, you will receive a password and an identification number for the login, which can be found in the confirmation of receipt. Some authorities also offer the option of sending all forms and documents in PDF or photo. Nevertheless, they must also be sent by post. But if you submit it digitally, the office can start processing faster.

Duration of the building application

Depending on the situation, it will take a different amount of time until all the documents required for the construction process are available. On average, one to six months can be assumed. In particular, if documents have to be requested from different authorities, the time to start construction is certainly longer. As soon as all documents have been submitted, the authority has between one and four months to approve or reject the project. Afterwards, the non-processing can be sent a reminder. Therefore, one should be aware from the beginning that a whole year can pass before the actual construction can start. Due to deadlines or rental contracts, it makes sense to set up a reasonably realistic schedule in advance.

Costs for a building application

On average, the costs for a building application that has been submitted for examination are between 100 and 200 euros. Basically, the amounts also depend on the number of forms and documents. Because if a large number is required, the associated time expenditure, which has to be paid, increases. Not only does the application cost money, but everyone involved, especially the architect, has to be paid. Overall, a flat rate of 0.4 x building projects can be calculated. 10 percent can be assumed if a representative such as the civil engineer or the architect prepares all the documents. If the client thinks of change requests during the processing phase of the already submitted building application, there will be additional costs for the changes.

Preliminary decision

If anything is unclear, it is worthwhile to get a preliminary decision in advance, for example when it comes to the development possibilities of a property or the type of use. The decision loses its validity after three years. The advantage of a preliminary decision is that no changes can be made based on it. The best opportunity to bond arises from questions that can be answered clearly with yes or no. The application can be submitted using the building application form. The question is attached to the form as an attachment.

What to do if a building application is rejected

If it happens that a building application is not approved, it is possible to file an objection up to one month after the decision. A legal assistance decision is also enclosed with the decision. This shows what legal options there are now for the builder. Although the possibility of objection is given, in the worst case this can also mean a financial loss if, for example, the application is still not approved afterwards. Furthermore, it will again take some time for the legal decision to become final. The better option is to make the smallest possible changes in the planning process and then re-submit the building application. This increases the chances of approval much more than a legal examination. To be sure, it helps to call in an independent architect who will assess the current plan and make suggestions for optimization. If you are unsure about how to proceed, you have the option of presenting your case anonymously to building owners’ associations or in forums and obtaining opinions. This can help with further decisions.