Finding a Plot to Build On

Finding a Plot to Build On

Regardless of the scale and ambition of your new home’s design, the first major challenge, in most instances, is acquiring a perfect plot of land on which to place it.

Thanks to both our location and particular areas of expertise as an architectural practice, we’ve been fortunate enough to work with clients in a wide variety of stunning landscapes, including the Cairngorms, across the Highlands, and in beautiful areas further South such as The Cotswolds and The South Downs.

Clear focus and a strategic approach is crucial when embarking on this first leg of your homebuilding journey, and we’ve summarised the key aspects as follows:

1.0 Purpose and Aims

Starting with ‘why’ is a rule of thumb that helps shape any new project, and this is no exception. Why do you want to build your own home? What are the essentials you can’t live without? How will it affect your lifestyle? What’s the ceiling on your budget?

For many, this might be a simple exercise that only confirms your intentions; for others, it might flag a vital point of consideration — such as location issues, access difficulties or, after a bit of number crunching, prohibitive costs that weren’t factored in.

2.0 Searching and Shortlisting

There’s no magic formula for finding the best land, and the simple answer is that a multi-faceted approach works best. Solicitors and estate agents in your area of interest will often have plots listed, but you can also make enquiries with private developers who may have land to sell, consult with community trusts or use the Buildings at Risk Register to view sites that contain derelict properties that could be demolished.

Regardless of what avenues you pursue, it’s important to visit sites when you can, make notes and continually compare the merits of each individual plot against others on your shortlist. Soon, you’ll have a strong understanding of what’s available for your budget. Beware of the bargain — if an attractive plot is priced well below the norm, there’s often a reason for it.

3.0 Planning Permission

The barrier to so many grand designs and a necessary consideration at all times. Does the plot you’re considering have planning permission already agreed? If not, is it a strong possibility?

Getting the right advice early is key here, and we are always happy to advise clients early, prior to them speaking to planning officers at the local council.

4.0 Access, Utilities and Site History

In line with the general theme of this whole process, this is where planning ahead is of crucial importance, particularly when building in the countryside. Having found a viable site, the first questions to ask are: ‘Is it on a public road?’ and ‘Are there access issues caused by road ownership, adjoining private land and/or challenging terrain?’

If you’re building a property on this site, easy access for site teams, including construction machinery, is required — so this has to be navigated ahead of that process beginning.

Another key consideration is utilities — water, gas, electricity — and what, if anything, needs to happen to ensure your new home has heat, power and running taps. Again, this is often a more pressing issue on rural builds, but it mustn’t be overlooked.

Thirdly, a lot can be gleaned from making enquiries and doing research into the history of the plot in question. What was it used for previously? Is there significant site clearance work or decontamination to be done ahead of build? Will the lay of the land have changed in 20-30 years’ time? If you have any qualms or feel that information is not forthcoming, seek advice from solicitors and your architect.

5.0 Good Advice and Support

Any Brown & Brown client who is still at the plot-finding stage can consult with us on any of the above. We often come across plots through our contacts with landowners and generally have a list of available plots in various locations. We can also assist in actively searching for a plot and making initial contact with owners etc.

An experienced property solicitor and the advice of a planning expert in your area of interest are also both essential to success. Remember to consider all of these factors when mapping out your total project budget.

Happy hunting!

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