Private homebuilders, custom build and self build

Private homebuilders are private individuals or groups of people who commission the construction of their home from a builder, contractor or package company (this is known as ‘custom build’ housing), or in a limited number of cases, physically build the home on their own with or without the help of sub-contractors (this is known as ‘self build’ housing).

Terms found in Continental Europe

The words used to describe self or custom built homes in Europe varies. The table below explains the main terms.


Autonome prive-woonsten (Autonomous private housing services)

Central wonen (Living together)

Gemeenschapshuizen (Community housing)

Samenhuizen (Homes together)
A range of collective housing in Belgium, including cohousing.


Anhandgab (‘exclusivity option(s)’)
Refers to an option period allowed to developers to consolidate their project – particular their finances – and be able to pay for sites.

Baugemeinschaft(en) (‘building community(s)’)
A group of people that have come together to live or build houses together. Often used interchangeably with Baugemeinschaft(en) and even Wohngruppe(n).

Baugenossenschaft(en) (‘building cooperative(s)’)
A specific legal form adopted by a Group of people who come together to build homes, and who operate under a co-operative model.

Baugruppe(n) (‘building group(s)’)
A group of people that have come together to live or build houses together. Often used interchangeably with Baugruppe and even Wohngruppe(n).

Bebauungsplan (‘development plan’)
Legally binding zoning plan. Also called B-Plan. This design coded Plan is prepared selectively for areas where development is likely to take place.

Eigentum (Property / Owner)
An Eigentumwohnung would describe an owner-occupier building group model, as opposed to a rental model.

Flächennutzungsplan (‘land use plan’)
Preparatory land use zoning plan. Also called FNP. This Plan is prepared by all local authorities for their municipal area.

Mietungsgesellschaften (‘renting company’)
Often Wohnprojekte für Mietungsgesellschaften; or ‘housing projects for rental companies’.

Umlegungsverfahren (‘reallocation process’)
Legally binding process of land pooling or ‘readjustment’ used by many local authorities to create new building plots. Councils proactively engage with landowners to pool landownerships, prepare or amend a development plan, service a site and then return developable land to land owners by their original share (either in value or land area).

Wohngruppe (Housing group)
Group of people that have come together to live or build houses together. See also Baugemeinschaft(en) and Baugruppe(n).

Wohnprojekt(e) (Housing project(s))
General term used to refer to residential projects.


Bestemmingsplan (‘determination plan’)
Legally binding zoning plan. Similar to the German B-Plan.

Casco (‘shell’)
Often stipulated stage in staged-payment mortgages.

Collectief Particulier Opdrachtgeverschap (CPO) (‘collective private clients’)

Hypotheek (‘mortgage’)

Particulier opdrachtgeverschap (‘private clients’)


D’autopromotion (‘self promoted’)

D’habitat autogere (‘Self housing’)

D’habitat groupe (‘group housing’)

De cooperative d’habitats (‘housing co-op’)

L’Habitat Participatif (‘Living collectively’)
Most commonly used term to describe collective or group projects.

Logement (‘housing’)

Plan Local d’Urbanisme (‘local urban plan’)
Decisive legal document which provides the development plan for the local authority or groups of authorities. Establishes planning zones which development must be in conformity with.