The Self Build Guide Part 1: Finding Land via Online Searches

Whenever you start looking at self-build as an option to create your ideal home, there are a number of steps you’ll need to take in the process. Self-building is an ambitious undertaking. However, it has some great positives and is a very rewarding way to construct a home you’ll love. Advantages include finding land exactly where you’d like to site your property, the size and layout (as long as it complies with Building Regs and planning) and, to a certain extent, setting your own timescales on how long you’d like the project to take.

Finding land via online search

Whenever you start looking at self-build as an option to create your ideal home, there are a number of steps you’ll need to take in the process. Self-building is an ambitious undertaking. However, it has some great positives and is a very rewarding way to construct a home you’ll love. Advantages include finding land exactly where you’d like to site your property, the size and layout (as long as it complies with Building Regs and planning) and, to a certain extent, setting your own timescales on how long you’d like the project to take.

Finding land – landing your perfect plot

Unless you already own a plot of land, the first stage of your project will be finding and purchasing land to build on. Over the next few weeks, we are going to be looking at the process of finding a plot of land and making sure it ticks the box requirements that will see your project completed.

Where do I really want to live?

Firstly, you need to decide on the geographical location. Would you like to live in the country, or would the suburbs and urban living suit you more?

In order to make a detailed, effective search, you need to pinpoint the area you want to live in. This will help create much more detailed search parameters – not too small, so that you are restricted, but not so large that you cannot refine your search further.

It’s useful to make a wishlist of what you need from your ideal location. Don’t forget key factors that will influence your decisions. These include being close to good infrastructure links, such as motorway access, other major roads, bus routes and railways. If you are searching for a rural idyll, you may not have to compromise on this as even villages and smaller towns can still be well connected if they have a railway station. If your work takes you abroad, having an airport nearby might be a positive rather than a negative.

As well as the essentials for many, such as good schools and reliable shops, think about your hobbies and what you do in your spare time. Do you love the idea of a local pub to relax in or are you a real foodie who would like to be able to walk to a great restaurant? Are there good dog walks close by? If you are into fitness, are there some good running routes or a gym in easy reach?

Online search for land

Once you have established your ideal location, perhaps the simplest way to seek out available land is to use an online land search. There are a variety of online plot-finding websites that are free to access and can be easily navigated. You can search by region or postcode, and hone the search according to your budget. You may need to create an account and log in to do this. Your search parameters will filter out inappropriate options and provide you with a short or longlist of likely sites.

If the online ‘plot finder’ sites don’t highlight any likely options, auction sites can also be useful too. You’ll be able to check things like acreage, infrastructure and services in the locality, but there’s really no substitute for going out and getting a ‘feel’ for the land and its surroundings in person.

Some of the principal UK land and auction websites include:  

www.rightmove.co.uk

www.plotfinder.net/

www.plotbrowser.com

www.onthemarket.com/farms-land/

www.ukauctionlist.com/land-auction

www.perfectplot.co.uk/

Other websites that are not land-specific are also useful starting points for land searches. These can include auction, marketplace and selling sites, such as:

Gumtree https://www.gumtree.com/

eBay https://www.ebay.co.uk/

Trovit https://www.trovit.co.uk

Craigslist https://geo.craigslist.org

With plot finding sites and auctioneer listings, you may find it’s worth signing up to their small subscription fee, in order to receive weekly or monthly updates of land available. In this way, you’ll keep up-to-date with what’s available and see what’s selling, what isn’t and where the hotspots are when it comes to development land.

Gaining insight

Another useful online tool is online land software. The two main ones are Nimbus Maps and LandInsight. These are specialised land finding software that are used by many developers and land agents, but are available to the public for a fee. If you are serious about finding that perfect plot, it may be worth the investment. These can be helpful but you will need some background knowledge of planning policy. We’ll be providing more detail on how to negotiate your way through the planning policy minefield in future blogs. Watch this space!