18 January 2023

Finding the perfect self build plot

By Self Build Zone

Every year there are approximately 13,000 self build housing projects completed, and each one of those would have had to go through some form of plot-finding process. While some people are gifted land from family or recommended areas coming up for development, most self-builders will have spent many months (sometimes years!) searching for their perfect plot, and the majority are not so easy to find! Securing a suitable building plot rests on many factors. Here are some tips on making that plot-finding journey less stressful and more hopeful!

Finding a self build plot of land that is perfect for you and your dream house aspirations can be an exciting yet daunting experience. You will need to search through the various options available, finding a suitable location, size and orientation that meets your needs.

The first step in finding the right self build plot is to decide where you want to live. This could be based on a certain area’s amenities, its proximity to your workplace and family, or simply because you love the scenery. Once you have narrowed down your location choice, finding suitable self build plots should become easier.

Site suitability & planning status

It is also important to consider the size of the plot you need for your dream house. A larger plot will give you more freedom to build what you want; however, it may require more planning and take longer to find. A smaller plot might be easier to find and less expensive but it may limit the size of your dream house.

Before deciding on a plot, it’s important to consider all the factors that could impact your build. Ask yourself: Are local property values in line with the kind of design you want? Could there be access problems? What’s the orientation? If the plot has existing planning consent, you will need to check if it is full or outline permission.

If permission is still pending, what are the chances of approval? In either case, if ‘no’ is your answer, all points regarding the lack of current permission will apply. It’s also essential to know when planning consent was granted – remember this lasts for three years from that date! It could become a problem if it expires within six months for any scheme involving redesign or discharge of conditions.

If the plot has no current planning permission…

Check if the site is located within an area of development indicated in the local or neighbourhood plan? If not, there could be conditions that might enable you to construct a dwelling, such as a housing land supply shortfall or opportunity for onsite living due to agricultural purposes or another rural business.

Build It Magazine published a great checklist on Finding Land: Self Build Plot Assessment Checklist, which contains lots of further details. You can access the checklist here.

Don’t forget, the internet will be your friend during this process! Enhance your chances of discovering the perfect self-build plot by using a plethora of search resources. Websites such as Grand Designs magazine’s Land Finder, Plotfinder and Buildstore Plotsearch list countless land listings, while property portals like Zoopla and Rightmove can prove equally beneficial.

Remember, self build plots are relatively scarce in the UK due partly to an abundance of protected areas compared to other European countries. Currently, 90 per cent of land in England can’t be built on, though the National Custom & Self Build Association’s efforts to secure the Right to Build is helping to ensure the release of more sites for self-builders.

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