HPH104 : How I Found My Plot of Land – Four Case Studies
In this podcast we're speaking to four self-builders from Ireland, England and Australia to see how they managed to find their plots of land.
Interview with Donal O'Leary – Ireland
Originally Donal had been looking to buy a house rather than a plot. When the sale of a derelict house on a half acre plot came up they realised that if successful with their bid they would probably need to rebuild rather than renovate.
A process of phone bids via the estate agent ultimately led to them missing out.
‘If You Don't Ask, You Don't Get'
While Donal continued in his search he made inquiries locally to see if any other sites might be available, and in doing so came in contact with the man who had been successful in the purchase of the derelict house. After a few discussions he agreed to sell Donal part of the site.
An agreement was reached on price based predominantly on the share of the land, and a joint planning application was submitted. They're hoping for the planning process to be finalised within the next couple of weeks.
Tips for Finding a Plot
Have perseverance, patience, be prepared for the long haul, walk the streets talking to people and be open to considering an overgrown field as a potential site.
Interview with Nicki Poggi – Australia
Having lived overseas, Nicki and her family were keen to return to Sydney. After missing out on a few properties at auctions she discovered a house whilst driving. The location was ideal in terms of proximity to the beach and ferry into Sydney, and on speaking to the estate agent they made an offer, being aware that it had previously failed to sell at auction.
Nicki would suggest that normally you familiarise yourself with an area and investigate what you're able to do with the property. In her case, they were fortunate in being permitted to knock it down and rebuild, which wasn't something they initially thought they would be allowed to do.
Interview with Arun Alex – England
For quite some time it has been important to Arun to build an energy efficient home. He has spent the last 4 or 5 years trawling websites to find a suitable plot. One suggestion he was given was to look at the local council website to see where planning permissions have been granted and to try and make contact with the owners.
Outline or No Planning Permission with the Plot Enabled Arun to Design a House to Suit His Requirements
While being able to pick up a plot of land more cheaply, buying a plot either with no planning permission or outline planning permission also meant that Arun had the flexibility to create a design for his house that would suit his family and their requirements.
After missing out on a couple of plots that had outline planning permission, Arun successfully bought a plot at auction that didn't have any planning permission attached. While a risky strategy, Arun had a preliminary chat with a planning consultant who thought that if the design and scale were right there was a chance that approval might be given. After researching how to come up with a figure for what the house would be valued at, the offer that Arun submitted was calculated based on rough ideas of the cost of the plot, the cost of the build, the type of construction likely to be used and adding a 20-30% uplift.
Since recording this interview with Arun he has had his planning application refused. He has since purchased another plot in Glastonbury and is currently awaiting full planning approval.
Interview with Glenn Graney – England
During the economic downturn, Glenn purchased a commercial rental property with a flat upstairs and several garages, with the hope of being able to build a house behind the commercial unit. The advice from a retired chief planning officer was that there was a 50/50 chance of obtaining planning permission. As it happened the council gave planning permission without any problems and Glenn and his girlfriend were able to live in the flat above the commercial unit while the build progressed.
An opportunity arose following the death of a neighbour to purchase an additional piece of land which made a considerable difference to the size of their garden.
Glenn's advice for plot seekers is to look for houses in poorer areas that have large gardens with the potential to be knocked down and the site divided into two, as buying land is at such a premium.
Find Out More
Find out more in Donal O'Leary's blog
Download a transcript of the interviews.
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About The Author
Lucy Cowell is owner of the Virtual Assistant company Quantum PA. Being immersed in the world of architecture for over 20 years and since working with Ben Adam-Smith, she is now determined to build her own house one day too!