Finding your self-build plot – what to look for

Guide - Find Your Plot

Finding a plot of land has always been the most challenging aspect of any self-build project; the task that has seen countless self-build dreams squashed at the first hurdle. 

These days, MyPlot makes the process of finding your perfect self-build plot much more straightforward, transforming what was once a hugely time intensive, stressful exercise, into an easy-to-navigate process. 

However, while finding your self-build plot needn’t be the challenge it once was, it’s important to understand what to look for and what to avoid.

Finding your plot – indeed the entire self-build journey – can be an emotional affair; it’s a real bucket-list moment for a lot of people and, for many, will be the home in which they remain for the rest of their lives. It’s a big choice – which is why it’s crucial not to let your heart overpower your head. 

While you do need to love the location, practicalities must have equal weighting – a completely dispassionate approach may be too much to ask (remember your advisors will be able to help), but having a good understanding of the basic ingredients for a good self-build plot will stand you in good stead.

1

Size, location and price

Your self-build plot must be the right size, in the right location and the right price – the absolute basics. Never compromise on these factors – yes, the view may be beautiful, but if you’re going to have to scrimp on the size of your outdoor space or the size of your kitchen, it’s likely you’ll live to regret it.

2

Do your research

Purchasing a self-build plot is much the same as purchasing a home when you’re considering location – visit at different times of day, and during the evening, and on different days of the week. Is it noisy at any particular times of day, or could traffic prove problematic? Look at local crime maps and check out residents’ Facebook groups to get an indication of any issues.

Don’t be afraid to ask to view the site a second, and even a third, time – this is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make; you don’t want to get it wrong.

3

Think ahead

Before you purchase your plot, consider whether the design of your home will be in keeping with those in the neighbourhood and local area. It’s likely you’ll have a vision in your head of your dream home, so it’s important that the local authority powers-that-be will be likely to sign off your plans. 

Look at recent planning submissions that have been approved – and denied – and work with your advisors to gauge the likelihood of success. If the gulf is too wide, it may be wise to look elsewhere.

4

Cover the practicalities

It may sound obvious, but it’s easy to get carried away and neglect to cover the practicalities – or even worse, make assumptions. Make sure that there is suitable access to the site without the need to traverse third party land in any way. Utilities and services should also be within easy reach.

5

Securing planning permission

You’ve found your plot. The location, price and size is right, your confident your design is complementary to the local aesthetic and you’ve confirmed that access and services are in place – it’s time to secure planning permission.

In most cases you’ll want to make sure that there’s some form of planning permission in place before you purchase the plot. It can take at least eight weeks for a decision to be made once an application has been submitted. 

Most plots will be put up for sale with outline or detailed planning permission. Remember, if the permitted design doesn’t suit your needs, a new application can be submitted without revoking the existing permission. A reduction in size usually won’t cause any issues, but if an increase is needed, it may be necessary to re-submit an application, or apply to extend in the future.

Architectural designers can often help with the planning process, but you might want to consider a specialist planning consultant too.

Due diligence completed, you’ll know when you’ve found the perfect plot – the self-build journey isn’t without its challenges (although the reward is great), so it’s important that you love the location and are completely committed to building your home, come what may.

Understanding the non-negotiables when searching for your plot will get your self-build journey off on the right foot.