Laws regarding living off-grid in Poland

I like to answer to your questions on my blog, but this is the first time I decided to publish my reply as a separate post. That’s because the following question that came from Ellis is not an easy one..

I am looking for a place in the EU where I could buy land and build a very small timber frame off grid cabin, or live in a yurt for less than 7k€.

I’d be extremely grateful for any advice you would have. On what sort of land is it legal and possible to do this in Poland? Are there any zoning laws, land, and building regulations which will make this impossible?

The answer to this question is pretty complex, as the building-related laws in Poland.

Zoning laws in Poland

In theory, all plots of land need to have so called “plan zagospodarowania przestrzennego”, which translates to zoning scheme. This scheme defines what can you do on a specific plot.

For example, my land has the following zoning limits:

  • I can build a house, up to 2-story high,
  • the roof has to be at 45° angle (houses with attics) or 30° (without attics),
  • I can’t build the house farther than 100 meters from the road,
  • I cannot build anything closer than 50 meters to the forest (which is impossible, because of the limit above).

There is a lot of land for which those zoning schemes were not prepared yet. This doesn’t mean you cannot build anything there in general…

If there’s no zoning scheme for a specific plot, you can get so called “warunki zabudowy” (building limits?). This is a document stating what can you build on the plot, but the limits are set to meet what’s already developed in the neighborhood.

In theory in such a case you would get a limit that would not exceed what was built nearby. If there are only small, low houses, you won’t be able to build anything large and tall. But you might also be required to have brown roof shingles if all the houses nearby have them in the same color.

Building permit or notification

It’s also required to obtain a building permit before starting to build a house. To file for this permit, one needs to have the house already designed by an architect, drawn (laid out) onto a map, etc. The house should be designed according to the zoning scheme, or the building limits.

But there is a category of things you can build on your property withoug applying for the permit, but simply with building notification.

This was my case. When I planned building the shack, I prepared a simple map and drawings of what I want to build, and sent them to the district office. By that I notified the office on what I plan to build.

The list of things you can build using the notification is pretty short. What’s most important is that one can build a small outbuilding (“budynek gospodarczy”), less than 25 m² (counting the area defined by the outmost surfaces of walls). A shack, a shed, a workshop. Not a garage and not a house you plan to live in. Mine was built as exactly this and formally I cannot live there, and of course I won’t. 🙂

The district office could oppose my notification, for example, if I wanted to build a 40 m² outhouse.

Off-grid possibilities

If you’re thinking about developing a house in a very remote location, very far away from other buildings, chances you will be able to do so legally are slim. Though you might be able to get away with building an outhouse (office might not oppose to the notification).

I am pretty sure that you can park a trailer anywhere, and if you’re able to provide your own water and power, nobody would harass you. Except local thugs, of course. 😉

If you plan on building anywhere with the building permit, the house should be supplied with power and heat. But this doesn’t mean you have to be connected to the grid or the municipal heat supply network. You can produce power on site, using renewable energy.


Setting up a simple settlement would cost you at least 2 000 PLN/m2, equivalent to around €500. Less, if you decide to cut the costs whenever it’s possible. So if your budget is 7k€, you can get a lot for that.

Land is cheap here, but a square meter of lot might cost you even 1k€ in a large city or close to it. But I assume this is not the case.






11 responses to “Laws regarding living off-grid in Poland”

  1. Ellis Avatar

    How likely is approval of building notification for a 10m2 outhouse on unzoned land far from houses? Would proximity to forest make it less likely? Would it be unwise to ask the district office if the notification on a particular plot would be approved, before buying the land?

  2. admin Avatar

    It’s pretty unlikely, I would say.

    If there’s no zoning scheme for the area, you would ask for the “building limits” which would be derived from what’s already built in the area. If there are no buildings — it’s pretty unlikely you would be allowed to build anything.

    Farmers are allowed to build their homesteads (house and acompanying buildings) and it’s possible even if there are no other buildings around. But there are additional requirements: to be classified as a farmer you have to own (or rent) more than one so called “conversion hectare” (which takes into account the quality of the soil — the worse the quality, the more land you have to own), and have proper education (but any BSc or MSc would do, regardless if you studied biology, agriculture, or gender studies 😉 ). Also, to to be able to build the homestead you must own (or rent) more land than average in the community.

    Because of those reasons I didn’t take this possibility into account.

    Honestly — I think that a RV (camper trailer) would be the best solution for you. We have a long tradition of opposing government by living in houses on wheels (e.g. Wóz Drzymały). 😉

  3. Ellis Avatar

    How much discretion is needed? Would a van alone parked on ones land be tolerated? On what sort of land would this work?

  4. admin Avatar

    A friend of mine lived for 9 months in his RV (camper van), parking here and there, including on public land. But he wasn’t looking for an off-grid site, he meant to stay in Warsaw or close to the city.

    I wouldn’t advise setting the van permanently in one spot, especially if it’s not public land. To be more specific, there’s no such thing as “public” land here, everything’s owned by someone — though by “public” I man owned by state/municipal governments, or some government agencies.

    If you traveled a lot and changed the place from time to time, I think you would be OK. And if you got to know the owner of the land (if private) and paid him a little (I think… €100/month would probably be more than enough — hell, for this kind of money I would allow you to spend all the time in the world on my land 😉 ), you might be able to stay in one place indefinitely.

  5. Ellis Avatar

    Is it possible to replicate what you have done, saving money wherever possible, for less than 16k PLN?

  6. admin Avatar

    I think so. For the wood, OSB boards, mineral wool and roofing felt I paid less than that amount. 🙂

  7. Ellis Avatar

    How long did it take you to buy land, etc. Is there anything I should know if I go down this route?

  8. admin Avatar

    If you want to buy agricultural land, the government entity called Agencja Nieruchomości Rolnych has the right to buy it first, if they think the price is too low. So you have to visit the lawyer (civil law notary) twice, and wait about 4-6 weeks in between, to know if they want to buy the land or not.

    After that you wait some 2 weeks for the court adds you to the land register as the owner. And that’s it.

  9. Ellis Avatar


  10. Vicky Avatar

    Hi interested in building an earthship house, ‘off the grid’ in Poland.
    Thank you

  11. Eve Avatar

    Hi ,
    really interesting blog and most useful informations for someone how would like to be independent by all mean. I am living in UK and laws regarding living off grid are more complex and less flexible. Almost impossible to do so.
    I am working in building industry and I had a chance to work on few passive houses projects. However digging up in this matter for so long bringing me to conclusion that simple ideas are the best one. I love earthship construction. So I’ve started planning moving back to Poland and build one for myself.
    Thanks to your blog it is much easier for me to gather all useful information.
    Good luck in future.

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