Our Self Build Series

by Mark Johnston

In the current climate more and more people are considering the benefits of building their own homes.

Self builders already account for 1 in 5 homes built in Britain. Projects can range from anything from a simple plot of land for a self build to renovation or refurbishment.

Building your own home does make sense in this climate; however one of the biggest hurdles to overcome is finding a fairly suitable priced plot of land that has not already been snapped up by estate agents or developers already in the know.

 The buildstore’s website lists 7,700 plots on sale, however it has 60,000 registered users all looking for the perfect plot.

Housing minister, Grant Shapps would like to see self building become a more mainstream option and therefore is expected to make more public and private land made available for self building projects. He believes self builders deliver affordable, greener and more innovatively designed homes.

Many plots of land that at the moment do actually get offered to the public are few and far between and very often over priced. Spokeswoman for buildstore, Jaclyn Thorburn says that “more building land has come on to the market since the economic slump began in 2007”, this attributes to professional builders withdrawing from the market. According to Potton, a self build specialist “supply is increasing as developers abandon projects and land prices fall”. Plotsearch data shows that the average plot price has dipped by 28% since 2008.

There are a few ways in which to find the perfect plot of land in the right location, such as contacting the local council in case they have plots for sale, contacting local land and estate agents and also subscribing to specialist land finding agencies and plot developers. Two such companies are plotsearch and the buildstore. The buildstore not only sources building plots but materials and also mortgages for self builders.

The national home building council (NHBC) suggests that once a suitable plot has been found the would be builders should then do as much research in to it as possible. The valuation office agency (VOA) provides property market reports which include a section on residential building land and provides information such as prices and planning policies. The land register online can also help search for the register and title plan information.

A site appraisal of the potential building plot should also be organised, this will assess the suitability of the land for building on and will also include any evidence of potential problems that may arise.

Once the plot is found to be suitable and building has started, getting the right insurance and warranty cover is vital, so that there is protection against some of the risks if things go wrong.

For those prepared to run the gauntlet of local planners and mortgage lenders, the rewards can be high. As a rule of thumb one third of the cost of a new home is the land , one third is the building and one third is the developers profit.

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