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Finding the perfect self-build plot

Finding a suitable self-build plot is notoriously difficult, the location has to be right, it must sit within your budget and have at least outline planning permission granted. Planning is critical to unlocking the potential of a piece of land and the ability to secure this permission will drive the value of both the plot and your finished home. You also need to decide what type and size of house you are looking to put on the plot, the ground conditions, utilities, boundaries and access.

Approximately 14,000 people choose to self-build every year, and this is growing year on year, so the building plots are out there, you just need to find and appraise them. But unlike the normal housing market, individual building plots are not so obvious to find – you really have your work cut out to secure a good one.

According to Potton Self Build homes:

“The average spend on a self-build plot of land is £220,573. The price of land in the UK varies hugely depending on the location (as do labour and build costs). We've seen self-builders purchase land from as little as £80,000 and others have spent in excess of £500,000. Small in-fill plots in the right areas can often be more affordable than rural locations with countryside/Grand Designs style vistas.

We always recommend you take advice before purchasing land and ensure the plot comes with planning permission - otherwise it's nothing more than an expensive field. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. To help you avoid the bear traps of plot-hunting, read our 7 plot pitfalls revealed article, or book a place on our famous 'How to find and appraise a plot' course, held at our show centre in Cambridgeshire.”

Choose your preferred area and narrow your search

A common mistake made when plot hunting is searching over too wide an area. If you don’t narrow your search to a specific and manageable geographic location, you may find yourselves casting a net too far and never finding the plot you want or missing plots. Whilst it is recommended to have a few areas in mind, it is in fact best to focus on specific towns or villages and start your search from here.

Explore your preferred area

Get in the car! Drive and then explore your selected towns and villages on the look-out for potential building plots. These could be infill sites, side gardens or disused garage blocks, but all may have potential.

Talk to locals

Don’t be afraid to speak with the locals to enquire – or write them a letter introducing yourself as a potential purchaser. You just might find someone who hadn’t realised they were sitting on a potential source of revenue.

Ask the council

Monitor the planning applications in your target region, too. Local authorities publish a register of these on their websites. It could be that the applicants are looking not to build, but to sell the plot on. Write to the applicants and ask if they are interested in selling to you. If you are lucky you might just get a letter back inviting you to discuss the matter further.

Replacement dwelling plot

Don’t disregard plots that have an existing house or bungalow on it on it. This can be a great way of finding your best location and does this open up a lot more opportunities, but also you are highly likely to gain planning consent if a dwelling is already present on the site. Demolition costs vary but £5,000-£15,000 would be typical. Almost half of self-builders today choose the replacement dwelling route.

Use the internet

Websites such as Plot Search feature thousands of land listings. General property-hunting portals such as Rightmove also allow you to refine your search to ‘land’ only.

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