LABC Building Excellence Awards 2018, Regional Finalist
The idea of custom building your own home is a wonderfully exciting prospect. But with so much to consider, it can also be a daunting challenge. The first step – and arguably the most important decision you will make on your self-build journey – is finding and buying the plot on which you will build your dream home.
But with a myriad of different factors to take into consideration, finding available plots, evaluating their suitability and gaining planning permission can be a minefield. So, we’ve pulled together this short guide to offer some advice and guidance to finding and buying land specifically for self-build projects.
Be prepared to compromise
Unfortunately, there is no secret pathway and it is very rare to find the perfect plot that ticks all the boxes on your wish list. So, keeping an open mind from the outset, and being prepared to compromise on certain aspects that aren’t critical to your plans is sensible. If you’ve found what looks like a suitable site, always seek expert advice before making any form of commitment. Even on the most straightforward sites, planning approval is never a certainty.
Starting your search
Once you’ve established what attributes a suitable plot needs to have – and what you’re prepared to compromise on – it’s time to start your search:
- Online is an excellent starting point with several resources like Rightmove, Plotfinder, and Buildstore. Be aware though, this is where you are likely to encounter most competition. So, expect to pay a premium for any plot, especially if it has any unique qualities.
- Don’t just sit behind your laptop – get out there and register interest with local agents, and enquire with local builders, and architects. Industry professionals are usually the first ones in the know. Make a list of who you have called; call back on a regular basis, and try and build a rapport with them. Calling at the right time could make all the difference!
- Finally, Local Authorities are now required to record the demand for self-build in their area – so register your interest! They use this information to determine how many self-build plots are required, and this will also help to guide their local planning and housing policy. This is more of a long-term option with no guarantees but if you’re lucky they may contact you directly with opportunities in the local area.
Take the search into your own hands
If you have the time, jump in your car and start driving round your chosen area to see what land may be available. While this route is potentially quite time consuming, it could yield better plots at lower values. However, a basic knowledge of your Local Authority’s planning policies is useful. And here are some other useful pointers to consider:
- Be aware of settlement boundaries: These boundaries determine where towns/villages end, and countryside begins. Development is likely to be more feasible if the plot is within settlement boundaries.
- Gaps and gardens: Be aware of any gaps in road frontages or houses with large gardens – could a plot be viable in this space?
- Replacement dwellings: Perhaps you’ve seen a house that needs some serious modernisation. Consider if it would be worthwhile demolishing the original to construct a new house – it’s sometimes possible to build larger than the original construction.
- Use redundant outbuildings: Depending on the structure and the location some outbuildings can be approved for conversion into residential. Some Local Authorities are slowly tightening up on this method, but it could still be a viable option.
- Brownfield and Commercial Land: Don’t discount disused commercial buildings. While these are often hard to visualise, and could potentially have high remediation costs, a potential residential opportunity could await.
Is your site financially viable?
Even when you’ve found a potential site that ticks sufficient boxes and meets planning guidelines, there are still many other practical factors that need to be considered to ensure it is financially viable for a self-build:
- Access: Does the site have good access? Is the access safe with good visibility in both directions? What is the cost of creating suitable access?
- Utilities: Can you get electricity, water, gas, and telephone services to your plot? If so, where are they coming from, and from how far?
- Existing services: Are there any large power lines running over the site, or public sewers underground beneath the site? Diversion costs can be eye-wateringly expensive.
- Ground conditions: Look out for nearby signs like marshes, lakes, geographical landmarks, or historical mining areas that may indicate potential ground conditions.
- Environment: Be aware of the environmental implications your building could have on nearby trees and local wildlife. Planning could be refused if your development risks endangering these.
- Past planning: Has planning already been granted? Search Council records for any onerous conditions attached to the land.
- Title searches: Are there any restrictions on the land? Historical searches are easily accessible on Land Registry.
Get a Planning Appraisal
Finally, if you’ve found what looks like a suitable site, always seek expert advice before making any form of commitment. Even on the most straightforward sites, planning approval is never a certainty.
At CB Homes, we have a proven track record of delivering successful planning applications throughout the North West, and are well placed to guide you along your self-build journey. We offer a free, no obligation consultation service to evaluate your potential plot. Fill in our land enquiry form and we will contact you to discuss the plot and explore your self-build aspirations in greater detail…
At CB Homes, we’re extremely proud of each and every project we deliver. But we’ve been building more than just dream homes over the past few weeks!!!
Our marketing team has been busy introducing our new brand as well as creating our all-new website, which has gone live in the last week of January. The website boasts a new structure, simpler navigation, interesting new content, and a blog (which you’re reading now!) The website is the first place where we’ve introduced our new branding and overall look-and-feel too, but there’s much, much more to come…
The new website has been completely redesigned to provide clients and prospective clients with much more detailed information about who we are, how we operate and what you can expect if you entrust your building project to us.
We hope you’ll find the new site a useful resource too, and provide you with some sources of inspiration for any building plans you may have. As always though, we value your feedback, so if there’s something that we’ve overlooked, or you have some suggestions, we’d love to hear from you…
New Brand Evolution
Over the past 30 years, CB Homes has evolved as a business, and during this time our brand has evolved too! The new brand has been redesigned and epitomises our core values of professionalism, reliability and trust, and the new website is the first place where you will see our new logo and overall look-and-feel in use.
We’re now busy creating a new range of marketing materials that reflect both the new brand, and our core values to communicate to our clients and prospective clients what they can expect from working with CB Homes. Watch this space for more on this…
One of the newest features of the website is the introduction of the CB Homes Blog, offering insightful advice, essential tips, latest news, and developments affecting the building trade. New Blogs will be added on a regular basis, providing thought-provoking content, expert guidance and creative inspiration for budding self-builders. From time-to-time we will also feature new articles from our network of contractors, delivering expert advice on their specific areas of expertise. The first of these will be feature on garden landscaping in Spring – watch this space…
Likewise, if there are any particular topics you would like us to cover in future Blogs, then please drop us a line and let us know.
Keep it Social…
Along with our new website, new brand, and new Blog, we’ve also gone social giving our clients and prospective clients every opportunity to keep abreast of our latest news at CB Homes. You can now follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest where you’ll see how our latest developments are progressing, pick up essential tips, or be inspired for your next big project. So, what are you waiting for – get following!!
Sign up to our Newsletter…
Finally, our new quarterly newsletters. These will give you plot alerts for any prospective self-build plot. There will be a combination of both on and off market plots to choose from, so make sure you’re the first ones in the know when it comes to buying your own plot of land. Along with these plot alerts, we will offer expert advice, the latest news and developments affecting the building industry along with some of our own special guides to provide you with the inspiration to help you get your self-build project off the ground.
So, whether you’re looking to buy a new home, have dreams of a self-build project or you’re looking to buy or sell land for building, the Newsletter will become a useful resource for your next project.
Regulations surrounding marketing emails are changing and under the new rules you’ll now need to opt-in to receive a copy directly to your inbox, so make sure you sign-up today…
LABC Building Excellence Awards Highly Commended Best Local Builder or Traditional Craftsperson
LABC Building Excellence Awards Finalist 2016 (North West) for best individual new home, Heyes Park, Hartford, Cheshire
NHBC “Pride In The Job” – North West, Single Home, Commendation Award
2012 LABC Building Excellence Award for Best Small Housing Development
Federation of Master Builder, overall winner for the North West for quality and customer service
Cheshire Districts Built in Quality Award, The White House, Bartington
Cheshire Districts Built in Quality Award, Old Chester Road, Helsby