Building permit in Germany: Negotiating skills and great support from Viebrock

At this point I would like to inform you about how the process “building permit” in Germany looked like with us. This was somewhat complex, since there is actually a change ban in the area in which our property is located. We first had to apply for an exemption from this, in the course of which we could in turn submit the building application. Fortunately for us, we didn’t have to deal with these things in detail – Viebrock did all that for us, saving us time and nerves. Plus, with their support, we can now build our dream home!

Building permit in Germany and change ban (“Veränderungssperre”) – what is that?

Our property is located in a building area with a current change restriction. This means that a zoning plan is currently being drawn up that did not exist before. Before that, every new building was subject to §34 BauGB, in other words: Your new building has to fit visually etc. into the residential area. The authorities don’t allow rough deviations. In other words: We could not have put a new Bauhaus flat-roof building with a white plaster facade in an area consisting of red brick gable houses. But: We didn’t even want to deviate so blatantly!

However, because the zoning plan has not yet been fully approved (a procedure that takes years, welcome to Germany), every building project in this area is currently being closely scrutinized to see whether it will fit in with the residential image that the city wants to achieve there in the future.

The zoning plan is in the approval process

We wouldn’t be in Germany if the place we’re moving to couldn’t think up the greatest things to say about the new regulations for new buildings.

The future zoning plan (“B-Plan”, short for “Bebauungsplan”) includes regulations on how tall buildings can be, what exterior colors they allow (yes, really – we couldn’t pick the brick of our choice…), and finally, what native plants we can use as hedges to public streets.

I can understand that to some extent, so as not to introduce sudden “wild growth”. However, some regulations are really petty. The fact that hedges may not exceed a certain height and not simply an opaque fence can be put in front, seems very nitty-gritty.

Sensitivity in the building application & communication with Viebrock

Ms. N. from the building application department at Viebrock negotiated really well for us. She asked for the points that were important to us, such as the height of the kneehole on the upper floor at 1.40m. Under the future zoning plan, that probably wouldn’t have been possible, and we had a brief moment of crisis during the building application process when that came up. Ultimately, the sense of space this would create was one of the reasons we chose this property – when we bought it, these restrictions didn’t yet exist.

However, the city was more concerned with the color scheme, so we were able to compromise through Ms. N: We meet the city’s requirements for the color of the bricks, and in return we don’t have to comply with the height of the roof edges that will be mandatory in the future. What luck!

Informal clarification with the building authority in advance is worthwhile!

After all, the authorities are only people you can talk to to obtain a building permit in Germany. And we have made the experience that it is worthwhile to contact the local building authority even without officially completed documents for submission. In our case, they are all quite accessible there, even if, as always, only during the obliging opening hours of 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on weekdays.

Thus, as builders, we already sent the drafts (floor plan and visualization) for our single-family house by e-mail to the responsible contact person well before we submitted our application officially. Of course, this was only after we were sure we had reached a planning stage we were happy with.

We received an informal reply from the building authority quite quickly: “In my opinion, it fits – the main thing is that the specifications for GRZ, storey height, etc. fit. The clinker color should have a little more red…”. With this information we have then connected the building office employee and Viebrock and it went wonderfully.

GRZ explained

One last note to this, if you’ve stumbled across the term “GRZ” for “Grundflächenzahl”. The GRZ specifies how many square meters of floor area of a building are permissible per square meter of property area. The GRZ is specified in the zoning plan as a decimal number. In big cities like Hamburg for example, a GRZ of 0.2 is usual; meaning if your property is 1,000 square meters, you can build a bungalow of 200 square meters.

Building a brick house: News from the construction site of the Edition 600 by Viebrock

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