Finding a plot of land to build on is the crucial first step towards building your dream home. While plots of land for building may sometimes be difficult to find, don’t lose hope! On average, as many as 13,000 people every year are able to build their own home. Here are some of our top tips for finding a good plot.
- Narrow down your options – deciding where you want to build
The UK is a big place, and a countrywide plot search would probably be quite overwhelming and would stretch your resources too thin. It goes without saying then that it is a good idea to decide on at least a couple of ideal locations to build your new home before you start. This will keep you focussed and help you identify sites that are at a distance away from major roads, schools, shops or other amenities that suits you. Search the area and keep an eye out for suitable build sites, including disused sites and even plots with a damaged/abandoned building which could potentially be demolished to make room for your new home. It is important to be open minded though and keep a few areas in mind in case it turns out that there are no plots available in the area you are searching in.
- Go digital! Online land databases
There are now a number of useful websites you can use to find plots of land to build on. Websites such as www.plotsearch.buildstore.co.uk, www.plotbrowser.com or www.plotfinder.net feature thousands of land listings, and general property hunting portals allow you to refine your search. Registration to these sites is usually free of charge and can be a good way to get an idea of the different kinds of plots available and help you decide on the kind of plot you need to build the house that you want.
- Get help from local professionals
Estate Agents, local surveyors, architects and auctioneers can all be worth talking to in your search for the perfect plot. While not every Estate Agent will sell land, local agents, especially those who run property auctions, are likely to be able to help. Surveyors and architects in the local area will be able to tell you about new plots cropping up. Land auctions are also a good place to go as selling plots to build on is the name of the game!
- The Right to Build Portal
Right to Build legislation was introduced by the government in 2016, and this places a legal obligation on local councils in England to make plots available for people wishing to build their own homes.
You can register your interest with local authorities using the Right to Build portal at https://nacsba.org.uk/campaigns/right-to-build-portal/, and you can sign up for any number of registers if you are interested in a few different locations. The Council in question will then have three years from the date of your registration to make land available, with planning permission, to fulfil self-build demand.
The drawbacks are that the plot may not be exactly what you envisioned, as well as the three-year wait, however registering can be useful as it obliges councils to make more land available for aspiring self-builders like you.
- Brownfield land registers
‘Brownfield’ refers to a site that has already been developed and is now for whatever reason no longer in use. These kinds of plots may typically be more expensive overall as you will need to take responsibility for clearing the site and making it ready to build on, including any demolition work, however these plots can appear in areas where space is otherwise limited or where planning permission might be difficult to obtain, and these sites are also less attractive to other potential self-builders looking for a typical greenfield plot, meaning less competition for you.
A word about Planning Permission
Planning permission is a legal necessity in order to be able to start building your home, and obtaining it can be a lengthy, complicated process. Where possible, try to make sure that the land you are buying already has planning permission. If your perfect plot of land doesn’t have pre-approved planning permission, you can research the planning history of the plot on the local council’s website, and it might be advisable to also arrange a meeting with a local planning officer, who can help you understand the local planning policy, and help you assess your chances of securing planning permission for your desired plot.