Every building consists of structures and components like load-bearing walls, ceilings, vaults, roof structures and others made from a variety of materials.
If you are affected by any form of heritage protection (whether with regard to a listed movable or immovable cultural monument, a property in a heritage reservation, heritage zone or protected area) you can find out in the following steps who will want what from you – and also why. We also explain what heritage officers are – on one hand they are specialists working at various branches of the National Heritage Institute, on the other employees of city and town halls – and what their competences are.
Consult an expert from the National Heritage Institute first
Heritage officers from the National Heritage Institute are available for free consultation (in Czech only). Ideally you should invite them to the site of the planned works, where they can explain to you which of the general principles of heritage care affect you and why. They will also advise you on how best, in both technical and aesthetic terms, to make sure your plans are in keeping with these principles. There is a branch of the National Heritage Institute in each region – see our web pages for contact details and more information.
what to avoid
If there is no consultation beforehand, it often happens that owners invest much time and energy in plans that the heritage officers will not then be able to approve, if this would lead to the heritage value of the building being damaged.
Apply to the municipal authorities for a binding statement
The application needs to be submitted to the authorities of a municipality with extended powers; in large (statutary) cities it is the city hall, in other cases the town hall. The National Heritage Office (see step 1) will tell you which authority you fall under; alternatively, you can find out from your parish authorities.
Most municipal authorities have their own form for applications for a binding statement. Agree with the authorities which documentation needs to be submitted together with the application form (for example a sketch of the plans, photographs, technical information and so on). The authorities then have to ask for a written statement on the proposed changes from the National Heritage Institute – and this is the point at which it is good to have already consulted everything with the National Heritage Institute beforehand.
what to avoid
Don’t start work without a decision from the authorities – you’ll probably end up having to pay an unpleasantly large fine. If the authorities do not have all the documents they need from you, they will ask you for them, which will extend the time it takes for a decision to be issued. It is therefore wise to find out in advance what documentation you will require.
The role of the National Heritage specialists
For the specialists from the National Heritage Institute to draw up the written statement responsibly, they will in most cases have to see your historic building (if you have not already shown it to them in step no. 1) and to know exactly what you intend to do. They will create documentation on the spot – you need not worry, photographs and sketches of the interior serve only the needs of the National Heritage Institute and will not be published anywhere without your permission. Heritage officers usually have a deadline of 20 days within which to draw up a specialist statement, although in complicated cases this may be extended.
what to avoid
Don’t change your plans subsequently – you will have to go through most of the steps again.
What’s written is what counts
When the authorities receive the specialist statement from the National Heritage Institute, they will issue you with a document. Either it will be a binding statement of approval (if the changes you intend to make require further steps to be taken by the planning permission authorities) or it will be a valid decision (which means you only need to wait until the date from which it is officially valid). Take the paperwork seriously – there will be monitoring to ensure that you are adhering to them.
what to avoid
Obtaining the necessary paperwork is not a formality which then has nothing to do with reality. During check-ups you may face major problems if you do not adhere to the rules, not to mention the fact that if you do not follow the agreed approach you will find yourself threatened by sanctions.
Once you have all the necessary permissions, we advise you to first get in touch with both heritage officers (the one from the National Heritage Institute, plus the one who works for the authorities) and let them know that you are starting work. They will keep an eye on the work to ensure that it all corresponds to what is in the paperwork. Both can help you deal with various unexpected problems that may come up, and you may find you need their experience and support when dealing with the company that is doing the work for you.
what to avoid
Do not depart from the approved documentation and conditions stipulated in the binding statement or the planning permission. Again, you may be faced with a fine of up to 2 million crowns, or at the very least you will have to redo work that has already been finished.
Now you know what to do!
Start off by consulting an expert: