The success of your project will not rely on any one aspect but before you start you will obviously need a plot of land to build on. This will dictate what type of home you can build and the potential profitability of the project. As you are reading this we will work on the presumption that you are not the owner of Wimpy Homes and will want all the help and advice you can find. Hopefully this will add to the information you already have.
1 A website that covers most auctions can be found at www.eigroup.co.uk You may have to pay a subscription charge, but most Estate Agents and Auction Houses will provide access to their listings free of charge.
2 Similarly, you can join Auction mailing lists to ensure you are equipped with all the information you can find as soon as they have it available.
3 Infill Plots or Ransom strips of land – this is the usual descriptive term for a strip of land between two houses where it looks like there is a house missing. It will take a lot of trawling around, but as building plots are so few and far between this is often the only hope of building in your preferred area. It is a risk, you could get refused, but Council planning departments are often approachable and while some have duty officers, the trend is growing to charge a fee for Pre-Planning advice. This will help you eliminate as many risks as you can prior to buying, although this advice will not be a guarantee. Also in this category are Back-Plots, which are usually large and accessible back gardens; although some planning departments are not as open to self-build schemes on these as they once were.
4 Some of the major building companies are also approachable. They sometimes have spare sections of land that don’t fit in with their development schemes, or maybe even areas that they could not use and may be willing to pass on.
5 Similarly, RailTrack and the Utility companies may have land available for sale.
6 You can study Planning Application lists to jump ahead of the queue and approach owners directly before the plot is marketed. Just visit local council websites and view their weekly lists. You may find approaching someone in this fashion a little intimidating, but be assured that experienced developers will be doing this all the time.
7 If you find an empty property that you feel ripe for renovation or development, you could visit www.landregistry.co.uk where it costs £4 to find out who owns land or property. A nicely worded letter saying how much you would love their house may work.
8 As there is a house shortage in Britain, the Government have identified self build as a way forward. The Self Build Initiative is an attempt to increase the number of new homes that are self built in the UK. Searches will reveal the latest news. Plots have already been identified for the scheme in Upper Tuesley, Milford, Surrey and Spencer’s Park, Hemel Hempstead.
9 If you identify a potential plot without planning permission, your research will need to include the National Planning Policy Framework and the Local Development Framework. Each council also has a Strategic Housing Market Assessment, not to mention maps, plans and information, with colour codes, complicated shaded areas around towns and villages, and lots of confusing and in many cases, arbitrary, ideas, but plough on, the information is all there – you just have to work hard to find it.
10 Plotbrowser, Plotsearch, Plotfinder – all charge for their services. While would would prefer this information was freely available to everyone, it takes a lot of work on behalf of the companies to research plots. Having said that, we would welcome information about a plot you know of, and we would open a page for it on this site.
11 The best and most regularly updated sources are of course the major house buying search engines. Plots pop up every day, but you will have to be quick.
12 It is said that up to 80% of self-builds are replacement dwellings. The run-down bungalow over the road could be just what you’re looking for, especially if there are towering mansions either side of it. Again the estate agency portals are a good way to look through images and street views. And don’t forget the lovely houses with generous side plots, which may be allowed planning permission.
13 Specialist land and property agents can also be found with the right research. Two in the south east of England are: www.rpcland.co.uk and www.southernpropertyconsultants.co.uk There are many throughout the country.
14 Our blog. With your help, we can make this a FREE resource for self-build land and renovation properties in the UK. Just add details HERE.
15 Of course, finding a building plot isn’t the end game. Always use this equation before even considering the purchase of a plot: What a plot is worth = Land Cost (A) + Build Costs (B) + 20/30% margin. So; A + B x 30% = end value (C)