What To Know About Buying Self-Build Land

Self-building your home is becoming increasingly popular as house buyers look at other options in the stagnant economic climate and challenging property market.

Self-building your own home means that you could reduce your property costs by one third and build the home of your dreams that is tailored exclusively to your needs and requirements. The average self-build property is a detached four-bedroom home. Many self-builders are able to build a larger home than a resale property. With more individuals willing to take the risk and build a home for themselves, and with the Government providing funding for community self-build projects on public-owned land to expand the self-build sector, self-building property is set to become more popular over the next decade.

So the first step is to do plenty of research, and the most important step is to find suitable land to build your new property on.

Think about the location you would ideally like to build your property. However, you will need to be flexible because land availability will differ across the country. Some authorities will charge taxes and levies for self-build plots and other authorities have suspended self-building projects for the foreseeable future. Get a good idea of the availability of land and likelihood fo being able to build a property in the first place in the location you desire.

Then of course it will very much depend on where there is land available, which may not be at the precise location you are looking for. You will need to be patient and flexible and be prepared to wait for a while until land becomes available and perhaps look at a number of viable locations to improve your chances of finding a suitable plot.

Land is perceived as being cheap, but this isn’t necessarily so in traditionally expensive locations and area. It will also depend on the size of the plot as to how much you are going to pay as well as the availability of land. If land is rare in a popular and expensive area, you will pay a lot of money for that particular plot. If you are building for a profit to sell your property on and the land is rare and expensive, this will eat into your profits. So be realistic about what you can buy in a particular location.

Planning Permission
The most important thing to be aware of is to buy land that has planning consent in place already. To buy land that hasn’t got pre-approved planning consent is a big risk, as it means that you may not be able to build on it at all.

There are two types of planning consent available with building plots. Outline planning permission or OPP gives planning consent for a development in principal. Detailed planning permission or DPP is planning permission detailing the designs, structure, landscaping, floor plans, elevation drawings and plot size. When the consent is given for detailed planning permission, the property must be built within five years of that consent being given.

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If you buy land which already has detailed planning permission, you do not need to go ahead with the design that has been previously drawn; you can go ahead with a new design of your choice.

Finding Land
There are a number of options to find building plots.

Auctions are a very popular way of buying land for building on, so search for property auctions that are across the country and nearby to the location that you are interested in. You can also register with reputable auction dealers and view their online catalogue up to one month in advance and check the land details and guide price. For some auction land lots you will need to be a cash buyer which means that you will need to have the cash available rather than a loan or mortgage, so be clear on payment terms and what the seller expects.

You can also register with estate agents and land agents who will have land available on their books or can search for land for you.

Many internet building plot and land websites have databases where you can search for available land and sign up to email alerts when land becomes available according to your requirements. Some of these websites you will need to pay a subscription for. Some property portals, recognising the growth in the self-build sector, are now offering land through estate agents as well as resale properties.

You can also take a look round the area yourself and do some research as to what available land there is or likely to be in future. Simply walking or driving round an area can help you identify relevant land areas that may be up for sale or are likely to come onto the market. Any dilapidated property may well be knocked down and the land be sold off, so look for opportunities like these. You can also check unmarked, vacant land areas with your local authority and the land registry to find out who owns the land and who to approach.

Sonya writes for What House? who specialise in new houses for sale across the UK from major house builders.

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