This article is adapted from the business magazine Capital and is available here for ten days. Afterwards it will only be available to read at Like stern, Capital belongs to RTL Deutschland.

The legal situation is clear: If you want to build a house on a property, you must first develop the building land and make the property accessible. This is what it says in the Building Code (BauGB).

Four requirements must be met: “A property can only be developed if the connection to the public road network, the supply of electricity and water as well as drainage is ensured,” explains Norbert Maier, real estate expert and specialist in construction financing at Dr. Small in Regensburg. “Only then is a property considered to be fully developed in terms of transport and technology.” However, connection to gas pipes, telephone or cable networks are not absolutely necessary.

Basically, there are two types of development, each of which incurs one-off costs: public and private or internal development. The difference is geographical: “Public development applies up to the property line, private development from the property line to the house,” Maier puts it succinctly.

While the public development of building land is usually the responsibility of the respective municipality in which it is located, building owners must organize the private development of their property. However, the municipality is also involved here because it must first approve the relevant applications. The following applies to all developments: the property owner bears the costs. He will later receive an invoice for the work organized by the municipality.

The development costs for a property can vary enormously, Maier knows: “The prices depend on the municipal and regional regulations, which are different everywhere.” Other factors such as the location and proximity to possible main connection points, the area of ​​the property, the height and type of use of the property in question also play a central role.

However, there is usually a little guidance: “In many statutes, at least the scope of the measures to be billed is described in detail. Costs for land acquisition, cycle paths, sidewalks, collector roads, parking areas, green spaces and much more can often be found in the list of possible development costs ” says Maier.

In total, property buyers should be prepared for development costs in the five-figure range. “For the vast majority of new properties, the total development costs are between 15 and 40 euros per square meter,” writes Folkert Siemens on the website. Many real estate experts cite a sum of between 10,000 and 30,000 euros as the house number that will be charged on average for the development of building land.

A few helpful average values ​​can be found at Finance Scout24: Accordingly, the development costs for electricity usually add up to 2,000 to 3,000 euros, while 2,000 to 5,000 euros are due for a water connection. The cost of a gas connection is around 2,000 euros, while the costs of developing telecommunications are often less than 1,000 euros.

Important to know: Municipalities do not always invoice the development contributions promptly or in full. “In individual cases, development costs may arise even after the property has been completed, for example if the municipality has not yet been able to conclusively determine the final costs,” says Dr. Klein expert Maier.

Or the work has not yet been completely completed: “A tarred road is not always a fully constructed development system. If, for example, the technically necessary substructure of a local road is missing, it is to be classified as not finally completed,” points out Maier. An example from Neuss shows what strange results this circumstance can bring. Here, some residents of Selikumer Weg were recently asked to pay for the expansion of a street that had existed for decades – but was not completed because the once agreed turning hammer was still missing. Cost: 360,000 euros.

In addition to late payment requests, additional costs may arise over time that may not have been foreseen when purchasing the property. The key word here is ‘improvement contribution’. According to Maier, these can be collected subsequently for measures that bring benefits to a property, such as a more modern water supply or drainage system. However, there is no nationwide regulation: “Each federal state has its own regulations on the taxes, which can be found in the respective municipal tax laws or the municipal improvement contribution statutes,” says Maier.

For this reason, property buyers should pay attention to how the assumption of development costs is regulated in the contract. According to the expert, clauses are common in notary contracts that transfer the development costs to the seller until the day of transfer. From the transfer of ownership, the buyer then bears the risk for all subsequent surveys and future changes to the development facilities. However, the notary can also design these clauses differently.