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Building Plots - The Facts
Earlier this year the Government unveiled plans for the Right To Build scheme, and has said it will make publicly owned land available to ordinary people to build their own homes. There is renewed interest in the self build market, but finding the right plot to build on, isn’t easy.03-02-2012
Before You Leave Home:
Get written particulars of plots from the agent - they’ll give you the heads up. There should be photographs but also look on Google Earth to see the location of roads, railways and open spaces etc. Know your budget for the plot itself and have an idea of the size and type of property that you want to build and estimated build costs. Does the plot already have planning permission? Check out local house prices to see if the project stacks up.
En-route to the Plot:
As you drive to the plot, look for clues about the area from at least ½ mile away. Is there a good range of local shops and amenities? Does the neighbourhood look up-together with well maintained properties? Negative signs are properties in a poor state and structural damage. Check out local pubs, shops and cafes. Study local architecture and note consistent design features. Look for new homes - they’re clues on the type of design the local planners favour. If there’s a show home, call in and ask how sales are going.
While you're at the plot
Take a clipboard and have a list of things to reccie, such as:
▪ What does the property next door look like? How close is it to your site and are there any windows overlooking. Listen for noise from the neighbours as well.
▪ If its overgrown and you can’t decipher the full dimensions, gauge the proportions from fence lines or hedges of neighbouring properties.
▪ Listen out for road noise and count how many vehicles pass by. Look for power lines or drains that cross the plot.
▪ Track down source of any unpleasant smells. Check the prevailing wind direction to see if they’ll bother you.
▪ What’s the subsoil like? If there’s new building work going on, speak to the people and ask what sort of foundations they had to use and what the ground conditions were. If you decide to go further, get a professional survey done.
▪ Work out where the access will be. This is crucial to getting plans approved. Make a rough sketch of the plot showing location of trees. Find out if any are subject to a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) - they can’t be removed.
▪ Establish the nearest point for water, sewerage, gas and electricity. Getting these to your plot may impact on your budget.
▪ Take a camera with you and photograph the plot from as many angles as you can.
▪ Use clever design to make the most of any view there is.
▪ Look at the style of other properties. Are they similar to what you are planning and will your scheme enhance the area?
▪ Make sure what you build stacks up financially and the end value isn’t too high for the area.
▪ If the plot has planning permission ask yourself if it’s what you want or could the scheme be improved.
Don’t get Caught in the Red
The cost of raw materials may increase during your project but also be aware of ‘hidden’ costs when crunching your numbers for your dream home. You might have to swallow higher costs due to:
• planners insisting on more expensive materials
• late delivery of materials adding to labour costs
• wastage, theft or vandalism of materials
as well as extra costs brought about by changes to the project. You need to build in a contingency of at least 20% to your budget.
where to find land for sale
Finding plots of land is a lot easier with the internet. There are several portal websites listing plots of land for sale including uklanddirectory.org.uk and building-plot.org.uk.
You can also register your details with land agents - estate agents who deal with land transactions as well. And of course, auctions are a good place to find plots for sale.
The most important thing to understand is if a plot has planning permission or not - this will have a crucial affect on its price and, of course, your dream of developing it.