Finding A Plot

Finding A Plot Of Land To Build Your Sustainable Eco Home

portfolio-eco-image-6Building your own eco home and one that is sustainable both in regards to energy efficiency as well as environmentally friendly all begins with finding the right plot of land to build within. One of the most difficult aspects of beginning your self build or one orchestrated by external labour is finding a plot of land that not only meets your needs but those of the area too.

There are a great many local laws pertaining to house building. It is not simply a process of buying a piece of land and going ahead with your dream home. Planning applications need to be submitted and invariably if you are building outside of the city, the form and function, materials and character so they blend in with the surrounding area is vitally important also.

Before buying a plot of land it is vital to first get some form of planning permission. Unless you have found a plot otherwise never enquired upon before, most plots up for sale will have been commissioned and had some form of planning permission submitted previously. Try to keep your search to one area, choose a village, town or section of a city and really exhaust your search before moving on.

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Negotiate The Land Plots Using Online Tools And Services

While land plot services are not fully comprehensive online, at least not yet, there are a variety of online tools and services which can assist in finding available plots which you can buy. The first online service that you may come across is which aims to list available plots for sale country wide. Though this is pretty much the end result and more expensive route of finding a plot to build upon. Other options include: Buildstore and PlotBrowser.

With savvy sellers having already gained planning permission for a certain build and may well have received previous enquiries. As with anything, doing the majority of searching yourself and unearthing that piece of land that has laid dormant for years, will bring the cost of land down considerably. Remember to refine your area of search before you begin, this makes the task much easier.

Then you can take to Google maps, the Ordnance Survey site or Google Street maps and begin to investigate ideas for a plot of land in your chosen area. Land does not need to be up for sale for you to enquire as to whether it can be bought or not.  Land next to or near to other properties is more than likely to be given planning permission. Simply understand better what you are trying to achieve. Character and location of property is important when negotiating the build route with any planning department committee.

Investigate Plots Of Lands Further With Council Planning Departments

modern office interiorLand that is already for sale, may well have had plans submitted by the current owner to ensure they receive the correct amount of money for the acreage they are selling. Agricultural land will sell for less than that which has permission to build homes upon. A whole housing estate versus the allowance of a small bungalow worth more and so on, but there is a way to jump the queue a little.

As most land for sale goes through the local planning permission stage first, and as this is public record. You can check any council website for the latest planning applications or visit your town hall or planning department’s reception area to see the latest plans even if only outlines with no specific drawings. Staying in the know is important in this fast moving game, where most of any decent plots are snapped up by keen builders or large scale property developers.

If a keen eye suggests a planning application may be denied for a three storey contemporary house, that may not be the case for your dream eco home. Size and character of the new build should be taken into consideration. Should any plans not go through, you have the perfect opportunity to contact the owner of the land directly and present new plans and an offer should they succeed. Having kept an eye on individual planning department submissions you are also well placed for putting in early offers.

Simply remember that when you submit your plans, that you have done as much research as possible into the local area and what is an acceptable build. If English country houses are the norm with only ground and first floor, try to keep within the design of the village or town. Do other buildings utilise certain exterior stone brick work and thatched roofs? if your design is slightly larger be sure to sweeten the development planners by keeping the concept and character of the new eco home similar to those it will be embedded within.

While visiting your local council, ask to view the local plan. This will be a map that cuts up the village or two into areas previously discussed and allotted for different use in the near, medium or long term future. You may also find out about newly declared custom build areas that are available for purchase from a developer. These are areas that have been entered into agreement with a local council in ensuring land used is as mixed as possible and open to all people in the community.

Build Up Resources And Contacts Who Can Search Land On Your Behalf

  • You can halve the time you search for land by enlisting an army of others to assist. This can be achieved through good faith and promise of working with other partners. Two unusual places to ask for help would be local builders and estate agents.
  • These would usually be your natural enemy when it comes to buying a plot of land. As they have a list of popular clients for paying commission on information and leads as well as keen to build their own properties. However, not all have the risk factor of building their own properties for sale so may work with you in finding land from which they can assist in the building.
  • By utilising social media and a network of neighbours, friends and family to find that secret plot of land. You may well find appropriate plots of land which will be ideal in size and location a lot quicker than trying to do so on your own. Many people have a circle of acquaintances with a few in related industries or who may know the relative of a family selling part of their land and if word spreads, that plot of land can be found quite quickly.
  • You can of course use a professional land finder scheme. For a few and a commission they will source plots of lands on your behalf, securing them with planning permission if necessary before buying. However be mindful that there are property developers and builders who may well be higher up the list that yourself, paying much more in commission for their big pay day. So don’t rely on one resource to come through for you, even if it is a paid service.
  • Also beware of land banking. This is the act of selling on plots of land which will never ever, probably in your lifetime, be granted permission to build a home upon. If any sale of a plot of land is linked to not asking anybody else for advice or first putting in building land to the local planning department then this land is probably best well left alone.

Ingenious Locations For Unused Land Plots Even Current Homes

post-eco-3Looking for land is not as simple as finding a plot which is vacant. That is easier but there are other routes, while more difficult, can lower the cost of land buying and also allow you to build where a property developer may not. If looking to build in a city, often old houses have gaps between the houses, there might be walk ways to rear gardens or a driveway.

As long as the building plans are to minimum specifications and there is adequate room between the home, there is no reason as to why you cannot buy the two side by side driveways from the two property owners to build your own home in the middle.

The same could be said for gardens also. if you find properties in an area who you feel will have adequately sized gardens even with a third of land trimmed, you could effectively contact the owners of a row of home and ask if you can buy a part of each of their gardens. Of course, you will need planning permission before you buy, to make sure you’re not just buying a piece of garden but a plot of land which you can build your home upon.

Aside from buying gardens and drive ways from existing homes on an area of land to make your own plot. You could also look up brownfield sites and disused buildings. These could be scrap yards, industrial units or simply land that has become disused over time. Planning departments may say yes to building on these sites depending on the circumstances. You won’t know if you don’t enquire.

Lastly, many people forget the most obvious point of finding a plot of land to build their home upon. And that’s a piece of land that already has a home or building on it. In some cases and situations it may well be advisable, if looking in a certain area. To buy a home at auction – especially if it has sizeable land acreage, knock the property down and build your own within the perimeter of the land.

Essentially, when sourcing plots of land to build your eco home:

  • Spread the word that you’re in the market, friends, family,social media, local builders and estate agents.
  • Be wary of land banking and the selling of land which cannot be built upon at any time in the near future.
  • Use online tools to find land already for sale or discover gaps between properties, gardens, drive ways which may be sold. Google Street view may be handy.
  • Consider buying a home with land at auction. The bought property can be knocked down and your own put in situ.
  • Keep an eye on the local planning development office for plans submitted and for any changes in the ‘local plan’ itself.
  • Don’t forget to include in plans, your rainwater harvesting tank, solar panels on the roof and any other eco home developments you wish to install from the outset.

 Next: The Design Process, Choosing an Architect & Eco Build Type




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