Building your future

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he Englishman’s home is his castle – or so they say. Even in today’s supposedly poor residential property market there is always strong demand for something different and there is open nothing quite so different as the opportunity for someone to build their own home.

The traditional route of acquiring a house would be to buy a property that has already been built, or converted. However the chance of this being just the way that it is wanted is unlikely and therefore many people would dearly love to build their own home.

A self-build opportunity could be a traditional building plot, a conversion of a barn, or even something more unusual like a chapel conversion or, as we have seen very recently, the potential conversion of a former covered reservoir.

Even before Channel 4’s ‘Grand Designs’ building plots have been popular. In terms of land a well used phrase is, “they aren’t making any more land” and this also relates to building plots. Houses and other constructed properties get sold and then can come back to the market and be re-sold again; however building plots rarely do. It is only recently that we have disposed of a residential property that is fit only really for demolition and this sold in 2010 at a price of £650,000. The price in 2007 when it last transacted was exactly the same, something that is very unusual, bearing in mind the way that the property market has been perceived to have dropped by up to say 15% – 20% over that period of time. The strength of the value of building plots is not in doubt.

It would be thought that there would be very liYle choice about. However, building plots do range in price from, say, £50,000 for a small plot within a developed area up to even close to £1,000,000 for a large plot set in a totally private area with grounds totalling many acres.

There are several choices that you need to look at and processes that need to be followed if you are to acquire a building plot for conversion opportunity and ensure that it is suitable:-

  1. You first need to decide the location that is required and then register with various websites and agents in the area for this type of opportunity.
  2. You will need to decide whether you want to register for building plots, conversion opportunities or even properties that may not have planning consent but simply warrant being demolished and re-built in order to provide your ultimate dream.
  3. When you have found a plot that suits you will need to take specialist advice. Planning Permission can be either outline or full and Planning Permission documents will often have a series of conditions attached, some of which are standard and some can be particularly onerous including things so varied as Section 106 Agreements, requiring sums of money to be paid to the Local Authority through to Occupancy Conditions meaning that only certain types of profession or individuals may occupy the said residence once constructed.
  4. Additional Reports will also be required, with particular reference to an outline Planning Consent. These can include surveys in respect of trees, flooding, ground condition, services, highways, newts, bats, birds, asbestos and general Environmental Impact Reports. The more of these that are required the more cost is potentially involved.
  1. Value will need to be determined. This will be done by looking at the end value of the property once constructed with an estimated figure. From this the cost of construction as well as any allowance for profit/comfort will need to be deducted in order to give a realistic price.
  2. In terms of professionals it is important to gain advice from a specialist Surveyor as well as from a Solicitor who is well versed in this type of opportunity.
  3. With regard to finance not all lenders are happy to deal with this type of property, particularly in the current market place. However, there are institutions out there who will look at this type of opportunity.
  4. Plots can o>en be sold by Informal Tender, Formal Tender or Public Auction – all of which are specialist techniques meant to bring the marketing of a property to a fixed point end. In order to be competitive in these scenarios it does usually help to have finance agreed and be in a position where you can purchase without making the sale of another property a condition therein.

Although it may sound complicated there are opportunities out there. Good, unusual and high quality building plots with the opportunity of creating bespoke properties are few and far between. Generally speaking the larger scale development opportunities with Planning Consents for several dwellings have dropped in value as the pressures upon sites such as these have been in terms of increased build costs, increased profit levels being required and reduced end values. It is only the scarcity of good opportunities that has meant that the most unusual plot has not suffered.

Regardless of all the advice that you receive many people o>en make a heart driven decision, rather than a head driven decision with regards to a building plot. So long as the costs are carefully controlled in terms of the development of the site then this need not be an issue. A lot of people simply feel that the benefit of gaining exactly the house that they want in the location that they desire has a big value associated with it and they are willing to pay accordingly.


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