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Finding the Perfect Plot for Your Self Build Journey

CEO Khai Intela
If you've ever dreamed of building your own home, you probably know that finding the perfect plot of land can be a challenging task. But with a little time, energy, and savvy searching, the journey...

If you've ever dreamed of building your own home, you probably know that finding the perfect plot of land can be a challenging task. But with a little time, energy, and savvy searching, the journey from page to plot doesn't have to be arduous. In this article, we will explore various avenues you can pursue to find the ideal plot for your self-build project.

Shape and Terrain: Where to Begin

Before delving into your dream home design, it's important to consider the shape and terrain of your desired site. Rather than trying to fit a preconceived design onto the land, be prepared to compromise and revise your ideas. Start by exploring the available land within your desired location and budget, and let the shape and terrain of the site guide your design decisions.

How Much Land Do You Need?

The amount of land required for your dream home depends on your preferences. A four-bedroom home can typically be built on a tenth of an acre, but if you desire plenty of outdoor space, aim for a third or even half an acre. Consider your lifestyle and needs when determining the size of the plot you require.

Research and Register: Utilizing Right to Build Legislation

Research is key when searching for the ideal plot. In England, the Right to Build legislation introduced in 2016 places a legal duty on local councils to make plots available for self-builders. Start by registering your interest through the Right to Build Portal and explore multiple locations if desired. While councils may not directly offer you a plot, registering your interest increases the pressure on them to make more self-build land available.

Online Search Tools and Estate Agents

Thanks to the internet, you can now browse through a range of land offerings in the comfort of your own home. Websites like Plotsearch, Plotfinder, and Plotbrowser provide helpful search tools that can give you an indication of the price range for plots in your desired location. Additionally, keep an eye on estate agent websites like Rightmove and Zoopla, and don't hesitate to contact local estate agents directly to let them know what you're looking for.

Auctions: A Fast Track to a Plot

If you're looking for a speedy way to secure a plot, consider attending property auctions. Auctions often offer unique and unusual lots that may not be readily available through other channels. Before the auction, visit potential plots and research their planning history. Seek advice from a solicitor and ensure your finances are in place before bidding. Remember to set a price limit and stick to it to avoid getting carried away.

Brownfield Plots: Hidden Opportunities

Brownfield plots, referring to previously-developed sites, can be a great opportunity for self-builders. These plots often appear in locations where space is scarce or planning permission would otherwise be difficult to secure. While these sites may require demolition or clean-up operations, they generally face less competition compared to greenfield plots. Utilize the publicly available register of brownfield land suitable for housing to find these hidden opportunities.

Your Own Back Garden: A Hidden Gem

Sometimes, the perfect plot for your self-build project may be right outside your back door. If you have a sizeable garden, consider utilizing the space to create your dream dwelling. Benefits of building in your garden include being able to reside on-site during construction, easy monitoring of the build, and existing utility connections. Check the Land Registry for any covenants preventing development and apply for planning permission, ensuring your design harmonizes with the surrounding landscape.

Replacing Existing Properties: Knocking Down to Build

If your search for a vacant plot proves unsuccessful, consider purchasing an existing property and replacing it with your ideal home. Before proceeding, ensure that the existing housing is not listed or in a conservation area. While demolition can be expensive, you can reclaim VAT on rebuild materials, offsetting the cost. Disconnect and cap off utilities before demolition begins, and remember to conduct the necessary checks and surveys before making a purchase.

Serviced Plots: Convenience at a Price

For those seeking convenience and reduced risk, serviced plots are an excellent option. These plots come ready to build on, with essential services and often some form of planning permission in place. While serviced plots tend to be more expensive than unprepared sites, many find the added convenience and reduced stress well worth the investment. Explore sites like the Graven Hill self-build community in Bicester, which offers a large number of serviced plots.

Building in Protected Areas: A Challenge Worth Pursuing

If you've spotted the perfect plot in a conservation area or national park, be prepared for extra challenges. Building in protected spaces involves navigating stringent regulations and design restrictions to ensure your dwelling harmonizes with the local landscape. Research local planning policies, neighboring sites, and consult with planning officers to understand what is possible within the area's limitations.

Considering the Terrain: Challenges and Adaptations

Before taking the plunge, thoroughly evaluate the terrain of the plot you're considering. Sloped plots may require design adaptations, such as an upside-down layout, to make the most of the available space. Consider whether the plot is subject to tree preservation orders or at risk of flooding, as these factors may impact your design choices. Arrange ecological surveys and seek professional advice to minimize risks and costs.

Planning Permission: Essential for a Smooth Build

While it may be tempting to purchase a plot without planning permission, it is generally advisable to secure planning permission before proceeding. Research the plot's planning history, arrange pre-application meetings with local planning officers, and familiarize yourself with local planning policies to gauge the likelihood of obtaining planning permission. Applying for planning permission before purchasing is also an option if time allows.

Finding the perfect plot for your self-build project may take time and perseverance. Embrace a variety of research routes, including online search tools, estate agents, and even old-fashioned footwork. Explore infill plots and approach homeowners with sizeable gardens that could be divided and sold as land. With determination and thorough research, you'll increase your chances of finding the ideal plot to bring your dream home to life.