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Finding Building Land for a New Home: The Ultimate Guide

January 7th 2019

Finding Building Land for a New Home: The Ultimate Guide

One of the most critical factors in building a new home is finding land to build on. Not just any piece of land, but your piece of land - one that meets your requirements while supporting the development of a new home.

However, the journey from an empty plot to finished home is a long one. Finding and registering your own slice of land can be a tricky process. But, it can also be a lot of fun. Our Ultimate Guide is here to break down the confusion and make your path to buying land as smooth as possible.

Different Types of Property Plots

Before your journey to buying land commences, it's important to understand the different types of plots you'll come across along the way.

Land becomes a plot when planning permission is involved. You can technically apply for planning permission on any plot of land, even plots that you don't own, thereby increasing your overall options. Here are the many different plots to consider when picking your patch of land:

Infill Plots

Although there's no specific definition for an infill plot, in general, it refers to a gap of land between groups of houses. The area should be large enough for one home and is typically set within a series of existing homes that are densely packed together, rather than among loosely arranged homes with space between each one.

There are two types of infill plots:

Spare Land is a currently unused infill plot obstructed by walls or fences. It is, as the name suggests, land that either had a previous use, such as a garden or dump or has been forgotten by the original owner.

Gardens are also considered infill plots under certain circumstances. For example, homeowners with large gardens will often sell all or a portion of their yard for future development. Besides knocking on doors and introducing yourself as a new neighbour, you may also have to abide by certain restrictions when it comes to developing your house. These restrictive covenants may forbid you from adding windows that face the original plot owner's home or connecting your services to pre-existing ones.

Backland Development

Similar to the garden infill plot, a backland plot is a garden plot located in the rear of a house, rather than in the front. Access is often shared with the current home along the side, but you might have private access if the plot is situated correctly.

Brownfield, Greenfield and Green Belt Land

Brownfield land has previously been developed, usually for an industrial or commercial purpose such as a petrol station or factory. As the land is often derelict, redevelopment is highly supported by the government, unless of course, the area is contaminated.

Greenfield land is essentially the opposite - it's never been developed. Unless it fits in with a political plan to create a new town or expand the current infrastructure, developing on Greenfield land in the countryside is extremely rare.

Green Belt land is similar to Greenfield land, but it has a special legal status. Building on Green Belt (and Greenfield) land is possible, but obtaining Government permission is a lengthy and complicated process.

Replacement Plot

A replacement plot refers to land that currently has a house or bungalow located on the property. However, due to negligence or sub-par construction, the building is ready to be destroyed and replaced with a new and improved home.

Fully Serviced Plot

A fully serviced plot is as the name suggests - a plot that already has service roads and sewer connections built in. A fully serviced plot removes a lot of uncertainties from the plot developing process, making it easy for new builders to dive in. However, they often have more design restrictions than other plots, based on the location of the pre-existing service connections.

Research the Area

A tried-and-true method for finding available land is to look for it in person. Take a stroll or drive through your desired neighbourhood to look for any undeveloped or abandoned plots. As you explore, keep in mind that many plots are hidden behind walls, homes and buildings. To be effective, scale your research to small areas at first and remember, Google Maps is your partner during this phase.

You can also use land-listing agencies in tandem to speed up your search. These agencies collect information from estate agents and private sellers to make information available online for a small fee. Not only is it an excellent way to quickly find land on the market, but it gives you an idea of the price each plot will cost.

Buy Your Plot

When buying and developing a plot of land in the UK, two requirements need to unfold simultaneously. First, you need to obtain planning permission for building a new development on your plot. Second, you need to buy the plot itself. Legally, you do not own a plot until planning permission has been granted. It's quite the conundrum. However, you can have your solicitors prepare a legal option that requires the plot vendor to sell you the plot as soon as planning permission is obtained.

If you're confident that planning permission will be granted, you can buy the plot outright in advance. However, this is very risky and shouldn't be done unless you're 99% certain planning will be granted.

Register Different Services

Once you have legal ownership of your plot, the next step is to organise your services. Not only are they essential for a functioning home, but they're also a necessary part of the building process. Water and electricity, even if it's being supplied temporarily, provides a considerable boost to the building process if it's already available.

Contact your lead provider for water, electricity and gas and ask about setting up a new connection.

Don't be Afraid to Compromise

In the end, the "dream plot" many people seek is exactly that - a dream. While you shouldn't sacrifice all of your goals to obtain a plot of land, you will most likely need to compromise on a couple of factors. This could mean changing your design from modern to traditional to live in a smaller English village or buying land in a location you never considered.

The important thing is to be flexible. You won't get that view of Stonehenge from the kitchen window, but you will have a lovely new home all to yourself!