Planning/urbanisation/building consent

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1. Explain briefly what official permissions are needed in relation to buildings, and what authority grants them. Is permission needed for:

According to the Building Act either written approval of the local authority or building permit is needed.

A written approval of the local authority is required in the case of:

  • Building a small construction work that occupies a ground surface area of 20–60 m².
  • Modifying the utility system of a construction work or replacing the entire utility system with an equivalent system.
  • Erecting boundary fences to enclose a plot of land in areas where preparation of a detailed spatial plan is mandatory and the erection of such fences requires excavation.
  • In architectural landmark districts in which building work is subject to the preparation of a detailed spatial plan, replacing doors or windows in the envelope elements of a detached building, summer-house, garden house, farm building, small construction work or in a residential building with two or more apartments within the limits of one apartment, stairwell or basement.
  • Replacing doors or windows in the envelope of a residential building with two or more apartments within the limits of one apartment, stairwell or basement, if upon the replacement of those parts the location of such doors or windows in the envelope remains the same and the fire safety properties of the construction work are not impaired, but the appearance of the construction work is altered.

A building permit is an authorisation granted by a local authority or the government for:

  • The erection of a construction work, and of any civil engineering work necessary to service the construction work, on the land or in the water body.
  • Building an extension to a construction work or part thereof.
  • The reconstruction of a construction work or part thereof.
  • The demolition of a construction work or part thereof.

The information contained in a building permit is published on the website of the national register of construction works.

2. Are buildings of a certain age exempt from any of these requirements?

All buildings must meet the requirements specified in the Building Act and other regulations. Minimum requirements for energy performance need not be observed in the case of the buildings which have been designated as monuments pursuant to the Heritage Conservation Act and where compliance with established requirements would significantly alter their nature or appearance.

3. Is official permission needed for the use to which land or buildings are put?

Building rights of the plot are determined by detailed plan. Building rights depend on the specific purpose of the registered immovable. If necessary, the specific purpose can be changed. The building rights of a plot define:

  • the intended use or intended uses of the plot;
  • the maximum permitted number of buildings on the plot;
  • the maximum area to be occupied by the buildings;
  • the maximum permitted height of the buildings.

Local authority gives additional information.

4. How does one discover whether the necessary permissions exist? Is it recorded in the land register, cadastre or some other register?

The information about building permits is published on the website of the national register of construction works. Additional information can be found from the local authority. Information about detail plans can be found on the geoportal of Estonian Land Board, but that information is not complete. Additional information can also be found from the local authority.

5. Are additional permissions needed in particular geographical areas? How does one discover whether a property is in such an area? Is it recorded in the land register, cadastre or some other register?

To get that kind of information, one has to turn to local authority. There may be specific permissions needed or requirements for planning or building.

6. Are there additional requirements for permission to alter or demolish certain buildings because of their age or architectural or historic value? How does one discover that such additional requirements exist? Is it recorded in the land register, cadastre or some other register?

Yes, there may be additional requirements for permission to alter or demolish certain buildings because of their age or architectural or historic value. The Heritage Conservation Act establishes the main rules, specific requirements can be found from the statutes of heritage conservation area if there is one.

To find information, one can use Estonian Land Board´s geoportal services  for free or turn to local authority. Information about additional requirements cannot be found in the land register, but if a notation about pre-emption right based on the Heritage Conservation Act is entered in the land register, one can assume that there may also be additional requirements.