Unlike the mainstream housing market and just picking up a ready built home off the shelf, finding individual plots for a self-build project is not so easy. And when you do find a good one, securing it can be even tougher.
Thousands of people self-build in the UK every year, so the sites are definitely out there. Be aware that if you have particular requirements in terms of size and location, finding a plot can take years. Flexibility, along with dedicated time and energy, will improve your chances of succeeding.
How to Start
There are many ways to locate a suitable plot.
Online: The internet is hands-down the most comprehensive source of available land, with sites like www.plotsearch.co.uk featuring thousands of listings.
Estate agents: Approaching estate agents in the areas that interest you often yields results. You can also contact local architects and other land specialists because they’re among the first to know about new plots.
Auctions: Plots are regularly available as rebuilds and demolitions at auction.
Tour the area: Exploring the locality allows you to get a sense of what’s available and find potential plots before anyone else does.
Monitor planning applications: Local authorities publish planning applications on their websites. It sometimes happens that the applicants intend to sell the land, not build on it.
Main Barriers to Self-Build Projects
The biggest barrier is the relative scarcity of plots in the UK. Planning policies also make it difficult to build new homes in certain areas, such as greenfield and conservation locations. In desirable areas developers grab land as soon as it becomes available, with leftover plots tending to be in brownfield sites.
Amount to Budget for Land
The biggest single expense for a self-build project is buying the plot. In areas where plots are less common and prices are higher, the land purchase can account for upward of 50% of the total value of the completed property.
To avoid breaking your budget, stop looking for perfection and seek potential instead. An ugly mess of rubbish and dead bushes could turn into a nice plot after a thorough clean-up.