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Things to Consider Before Buying Land for a Self-Build Home


May 30, 2022

There are so many reasons why self-build homes are becoming trendier by the day, but probably cost is among the most common. Without paying the cost of labour, which is said to be the most expensive part of the cost of construction, it ‘should’ become much more affordable. Many times, it is. However, there may be obstacles along the way that could reveal hidden costs you hadn’t anticipated and that might delay the process to some extent. Even so, that is not the only thing to consider when buying land for a self-build home. There are other things you should be aware of as well. The only difference may be where you choose to build your home, not if or when.

Let’s Talk About Where

You may have your mind made up as to where you want to buy land for your self-build home. It could be that you like the location in terms of rural beauty or it could be you like the school your children will be attending. Maybe your church is moving to that neighbourhood, and it could just be the price of the land is affordable.

No matter what your reason is for choosing that particular parcel of land, there are practical considerations as well. One of the aspects of a self-build home is that the entire process isn’t really going to be a DIY self-build in most cases.

You will often need licensed or certified professionals for things like electrical wiring and plumbing. If there are limited professional services in the area of the country where you intend to build, that could create a real problem as well. However, that is still putting the cart before the horse.

Each area of the UK sets its own land use permissions based on what has been established by the local authority. Within that, there are neighbourhood forums that, once officially designated, can set land use which may not allow for residential dwellings. Even this, however, isn’t going to be the biggest obstacle you might come up against. The biggest issue to get around might be in recent biodiversity legislation.

A Look at the Environment Act of 2021

This is something the layperson may not be aware of. Whilst builders and other professionals in the construction industry have been following this legislation closely, it isn’t something the average person may be aware of if they haven’t been following the news. If you had your eye on this land prior to the enactment of this law, you may not be aware of the fact that you may not be able to build there for other reasons.

One thing you may want to do before agreeing to a contract for the purchase of that land is to get permission from the current landowner to have a leading consultancy like Arbtech conduct a biodiversity survey. This is where they determine if there are any protected species that could be endangered by construction and if there are any other parts of the biosphere that would be negatively affected. The survey by Arbtech would need to be submitted to the planning authority prior to being granted permission to build on the land.

In your plan you would need to show how you would provide a biodiversity net gain of at least 10% above the land’s current state. A biodiversity net gain plan might, in the end, be your biggest obstacle, but not unsurmountable. Showing how you would relocate a protected species, however, might come at a cost way beyond the reason you were seeking a self-build in the first place!

One More Look at Location

If all of the above are in line with the potential to build on that piece of property you’ve been considering for some time, then perhaps it’s time for one more look at location. Have you taken the time to research services in the area such as internet providers and other amenities you are accustomed to having?

How near are shops and other services you would need to access frequently? What about distance to and from your place of employment? You would need to consider what the road conditions are like in winter months when snow could be heavy, making your route impassable, perhaps for days until they could be cleared.

It is all well and good to want to get away from the noise and activity in urban populations, but sometimes our dreams take us into the realm of fantasy. There may be other plots closer to your job that you could build on that wouldn’t interfere greatly with the biodiversity of the land and would be easier to build on at less the cost. It is always better to have a second and third choice to consider if the parcel of land you’ve chosen doesn’t meet your budget or the planning authority’s permitted use.

There Is Always One More Option!

Since there are so many legalities and practical aspects of undergoing a self-build project, you might want to consider working with a builder that would let you do most of the finishing work yourself. Maybe you could be instrumental in working with the architect to draw up plans.

Let the builder do the land preparation along with seeing to the necessary 10% biodiversity net gain. They have been working with this legislation for some time now and can easily plan ways to meet legislated requirements.

Perhaps the builder could do everything up to the point of adding interior walls, ceilings and floors which would save you a considerable amount as well. There are times that no matter how hard you try or how you plan, you might need to consider alternatives to your original ideas.

There is one last point which should be discussed here and that is the availability of financing for your new home. Some lenders will be less likely to underwrite a mortgage loan on a self-build because the equity is in the home. If constructed by amateurs, how much could it be worth upon completion?

There is much to consider before buying that land, so take your time to know whether this is something you really can do.

By admin