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A guide to buying land in the UK

If you want to create a house of your own, you need a plot of land to start things off. In this guide, we'll cover how to go about finding this land, issues you might face, and what to do when you've secured the site of your dreams.

5 min read

There are few things as rewarding as building your own home from scratch - or more daunting.

One of the first challenges to your journey will be finding the perfect plot. This might be a vacant piece of land or (more likely) even a spot where another house or building is already sat. Either way, how do you go about finding this perfect location? And what are the steps for changing it from zero to home hero?

We asked our New Builds team to share with us their best land advice…

Finding land

When it comes to finding land, you can either turn to the internet or roll up your sleeves.

For the easiest approach, there are number of sites that provide listings of plots which are currently available in the UK. These are…

You can also find plots of land via more traditional home sites, such as Rightmove.

However, if you’ve got a detective streak, you might also benefit from visiting areas you’re considering and doing some snooping. Land is a funny thing and sometimes a person might be sat on a great spot without even realising. By poking your head around the area, you might spot a hidden gem or be pointed in the right direction by a local resident.

Greenfield vs brownfield

During your search, it’s likely you’ll encounter two types of plots: greenfield and brownfield.

Greenfield: These are sites which have not been developed and tend to be more natural environments, such as acres of land in the countryside. These may sound ideal to some but they’re notoriously hard to find and can be part of greenbelt land around cities, meaning gaining planning permission won’t be an easy task.

Brownfield: These are often plots of disused or derelict land, having already been developed in the past. In order to build on this land, you often have to pay more to have it cleared, especially if the land is contaminated from previous industrial use. However, it’s not all bad, sometimes the existing structures you find on these sites can be used within your build.

Assessing your land

Before you hand over any money, you’ll need to assess whether your land is fit for purpose. This is where a chartered surveyor comes in. They’ll be able to visit your plot and map out any potential barriers or issues you might face during construction.

They’ll typically be on the lookout for…

  • Flood risks
  • Pollution
  • Trees
  • Soil quality
  • Existing structures
  • Nearby power lines
  • Plus much more

Alongside any physical challenges you might encounter, a land surveyor will also consider any legal hurdles too. They’ll define the boundaries of your plot, enabling you to properly understand where you can build and whether any neighbouring owners might be affected. Without a proper survey, you might end up encroaching on these boundaries and facing a nasty legal dispute.

Planning permission

Speaking of legal disputes, planning permission is going to be a big consideration for your project.

All new builds need to submit a full planning application and not all councils are thrilled with the idea of new homes popping up. That’s why, at Resi, we always recommend you talk to your local authority before you make any purchases, ideally with a pre-application.

You might find that some plots are sold with planning permission attached, though it tends to be only an outline of what’s possible, rather than having all the details properly mapped out. If this is the case, you’ll need to work with the council to find out what’s possible within the scheme they’ve already greenlighted.

Again, having an experienced architect by your side, acting as your planning agent, can help give you the best chance of success at this stage.

How much does land cost?

Much like houses, the price of land in the UK can vary wildly. What might cost thousands in one part of the country, could cost millions in another. Therefore, you’ll need to do a bit of research to find out the average cost of land in your area.

Things that affect the value of land…

  • Location
  • Condition of the site
  • Topography
  • Services, such as whether or not gas or water is connected
  • Attached planning permissions
  • Neighbouring developments

Alongside the price of your plot of land, you’ll also need to factor in the other costs of your project. These will include…

  • Legal fees
  • Architectural fees
  • Contractors
  • Materials
  • Fittings
  • Project management
  • Structural engineering
  • Plus much more

Learn more: How much does it cost to build a house?

Once again, before you make any purchases, we highly recommend sitting down and working out how much you expect to spend. If you’re not sure how you’ll finance your project, speak to a member of our finance team for advice.

Purchasing land and tax

When it comes to buying a plot of land, it’s worth remembering that you’ll still be subject to Stamp Duty Land Tax, which differs across the UK.

Remember: the threshold for stamp duty can change and is expected to do so in 2020. If you haven't reviewed the rules in a while, it's worth checking out the links above for up to date details.

You’ll also need to bear in mind that if your new build is a second property, you’ll also be liable to pay an additional 3% surcharge, though this will be waived if you sell your old property within 3 years.

What next?

Found your ideal plot of land? If so, then it sounds like you’re ready to kickstart your project. Whether you’re a seasoned developer or a first-timer, our New Builds team are able to manage each stage of your journey, so you can start building with confidence.

Our New Builds service includes:

  • Surveys
  • Architectural design
  • Site appraisal
  • Feasibility studies
  • Pre-planning application
  • Planning support
  • Finance
  • Building regulations
  • Project management
  • Interior design
  • Plus, introductions to vetted local contractors

Unlock the potential in your plot of land today by booking in a free consultation with our team.

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