There are a number of things to consider when purchasing a plot for development. Although it is different to purchasing property, it is still just as important that you do your research.
We would recommend that you think about the following points before proceeding with the purchase of a building plot.
- Planning Permission
Does the land have planning permission? If so is it Outline or Detailed? If there is Outline only have a good look at dwellings in the vicinity of the plot as this may be an indication of the type/size of property you may be able to build.
If the land does not have permission it may be worth getting in touch with the local council to find out the likelihood of obtaining it.
Find out what already runs to the plot, if anything (telephone lines, electricity, water, etc). You would be wise to contact providers at this early stage to research the possibility of getting utilities and services to the site – as well as the costs involved for both consultations and connections.
It may currently be a plot but if your intention is to build property then the location research and things to consider still apply. Thinking to the future, the location is important if and when you come to sell as it will affect the value.
- Potential Obstacles
Look at the land and associated paperwork to check for anything that may cause problems or prevent you from completing your proposed build. Think about – Public rights of way, overhead and underground cables/pipes, the area (is it a Conservation or some other type of area that may result in planners imposing restrictions) etc.
It may sound stupid but trees and hedgerows can cause headaches when developing land. There may well be mature trees on the site that are subject to a Tree Preservation Order, thus preventing you from removing them. Could this affect your development or the planned access etc? Also – mature trees in the vicinity tends to mean a large area of roots underground – this could mean trouble for the build. One other thing to bear in mind is that the planning authority could insist on preserving certain hedgerows.
This may seem obvious but it can easily be overlooked. Checking the access to a site for large delivery vehicles and machinery is imperative. Is there a tight bend to get on the drive? Is it down an extremely narrow lane with no room for larger vehicles to turn? Will there be any charges involved?
Although there are ways around most access problems it is always best to be aware in advance. For example – we are currently working on a site where deliveries are made at the end of the lane and we have hired additional equipment to transport it from an agreed place to the plot. This just involved a bit of forward planning and negotiating with the local estate management offices as well as budgeting for the charges imposed in order to do this.
As always, we would recommend asking the experts for advice and opinions before proceeding with a purchase. Solicitors can help assess the paperwork and advise on all of the usual purchasing issues. Architects will be well placed to offer their opinion on planning permissions/restrictions etc. And a builder viewing the site with you may just notice something that wouldn’t have even crossed your mind.