Is it a plot or not?

29 April 2017 Mark Stevenson
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With millions of people wanting to self-build but only thousands managing to do so each year, finding land can be a challenge and making sure that your plot is suitable is key to your project being a success.

To make sure land is suitable for development, start by asking a few questions.

Is it a realistic proposition?

Why has no one built here before? Would the expense be too much making the project financially not viable? Would I be able to get planning permission?

Quite often the answers are obvious, a great place to start is to ask the people. Talk to the landowner and neighbours to find out if a development has stalled in the past and why.

Am I taking a risk?

It is never a good idea to buy land without being assured that you will secure the planning permission required. Ideally, the land should already have permission in place, this will give you a good idea of what can be built and will form the basis of properly valuing the plot. 

If the plot does not have planning permission, then consult a professional (Potton can help) to understand what might be possible. If the prospects are favourable, negotiate an ‘option to buy’ subject to securing permission and carrying out all the necessary site investigations.

open countyside
Would you be able to secure planning permission?

Have there been approvals granted for self builds in the area? Were they approved first time or go to appeal? Was there local support or objection? This will show how ‘pro development’ the local area and council are. 

It is worth finding out if your plot is situated within the development boundary of the town or village. Sometimes referred to as the ‘red edge’, it identifies the urban area considered suitable for development.

Replacement dwellings, infill and garden plots are great as they will likely be situated within this boundary and are more likely to be ripe for development. 

Plots in the Open Countryside

Be cautious. If you are offered a field at what seems to be a bargain price, then the likelihood is that it won’t be suitable for development. If you're unsure if your land is suitable for development then why not take advantage of our free planning appraisal service.

In rural areas, replacement dwellings are the most common way of building a new house. Securing planning permission will be specific to the plot and what you want to build so you will need to understand if this is possible.

Check the Local Authorities development plan and investigate the council’s planning policies to assess whether your proposals meet their criteria. Consider having a ‘pre app’ with the council to find out if your plans are sensible.

Are there complications?

Many complications can be overcome with the right amount of money and time.

Land within conservation areas, areas of outstanding beauty, open countryside and situated adjacent to listed buildings will have restrictions which will limit what you can build.

Consider legal issues such as covenants, easements and rights of way, which can be equally restrictive. Ensure that any existing permission has adequate time left in which to start your build before expiry!

Many build complications will be obvious such as access, site gradients and boundaries. Take time to meet with neighbours and talk to anyone that may know the history of the site.

Employ a professional to carry out a site investigation prior to purchase to identify potential site problems and make sure that your proposed purchase price reflects investment.
Audience at seminar

How to Find Land & Appraise a Plot - One Day Masterclass

Why not attend our one-day course for the answers to all of your plot questions.
 

Take me to the course!

Grass with gravel drive and gate
Do I have access to the plot?

Your plot may have what looks to be a suitable access – but do you have a legal right?

It is best to have an access directly off a public highway. Ideally, the access should be in your ownership and there should be sufficient room at the entrance to construct the necessary visibility splays and provide safe access and egress.

The access needs to be suitable for construction traffic and delivery of materials. Mains services will more than likely need to be brought down the access way to connect to your new home.

Be cautious when considering a plot that only has a right of way as this may not provide you with the necessary easements for services and someone else may be able to control or limit how you access your building site.

Ensure your plot is not bound by a ransom strip preventing you from legally being able to cross over to your plot. These can be expensive and could cost you as much as 40% of the development uplift value to resolve.

Will I be able to ‘service’ the plot?

It is essential that your home not only has the benefit of mains water, electricity and drainage but should also have a suitable connection to things such as the internet. Make sure that connections to essential services are possible and that the cost of doing so is affordable.
Am I paying the right price?

Quite literally, the million dollar question. Valuing a building plot is much more difficult than valuing a house as there are many more variables. You need to know what you want to build and understand the type of property the land will support in order to value the plot accurately. You will also need an accurate build cost as well as an understanding of costs of development such as CIL, legal and professional fees. 

Start with the end value of the completed home and deduct the total cost of development along with your retained equity. What’s left is the plot value…simple!
Beaten by a builder…

Builders are not prepared to pay any more than they have to for a plot and as a result of having to make a profit, they will probably pay less than a self builder. The advantage that builders have is that they understand the cost of development and how to control it. If you are really serious about buying a plot, think like a builder, do your homework, understand costs, identify the potential value, know the risk involved and buy accordingly.


 

Potton

Potton Head Office

Eltisley Road

Great Gransden

Sandy

SG19 3AR

441767 676400

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