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We have completed the design and planning for converting a 3-bedroom bungalow into a luxury 5-bedroom house in the Stoke area. Work is now underway on the house and it's already looking incredible.

We have also finished plans for an orangery for customers in Holywell who wanted to extend their house in a slightly different way.

We have been involved in several self-build projects and we will be publishing regular articles on "Self-Build Step-by-Step". Our first article on finding a building plot follows:


How do I find a Building Plot?


The first thing for a self-builder to consider is usually finding a building plot and this is not so easy as we will see, but help is at hand! I am assuming for the moment that you have a reasonable budget for your project and I will return to the subject of build budgets and raising finance in a separate article.


You may think that the first place to look is in the estate agent’s window under “building land for sale” and you may be right, but there are pitfalls to avoid and also a number of alternative ways to find your ideal building plot.


Estate Agents


There are a number of plots for sale in most parts of the country and prices have come down to some extent from the days when the market was overheated in 2006 to 2007, before the property market bubble burst and sanity returned.


However, you have to approach the question of which building plot to buy with caution as there are several important issues to consider. Remember that the estate agent is representing the vendor of the plot and their brief is usually to sell the plot for a much as possible, and that is really where their responsibility ends.


Most plot descriptions that I have seen do not include the plot dimensions but just describe the land area as a fraction of a hectare, which means little to most people. (A hectare is in fact equal to 2.47105 acres which is 10,000m2 or if you prefer, 11,959.9 square yards). A useful building plot for a 4-bedroom detached house will be in the region of 0.04 hectares, 400m2 or about 478 square yards).


If you are using the estate agents route to your plot finding a good tip is to ask several agents in the area that you wish to find your plot in if they have a mailing list and if so ask them to add your name as a potential buyer, if you have the cash available without the need for a mortgage then so much the better. However, keep contacting the agents on a weekly basis; don’t assume that having your name on their list will ensure that they tell you about every new plot as it becomes available.


Alternative Ways to Find a Plot


Local Advertising


I have been able to find a building plot simply by advertising in local Post Offices, some will charge you a couple of pounds per week, one postmaster just asked me to put a contribution into the charity box on the counter!


A post card size advert saying Building Plot Required - Cash Buyer and your contact phone number(s) is all that is needed.


You could also try a classified advertisement in the local paper, and again the cost should be reasonable.


Large Gardens


Houses with large gardens, particularly those that look overgrown and uncared for are another possible source of a building plot. It is however important to check with the local planning department at an early stage as in some cases the local council will not be favourably inclined towards garden developments; a quick phone call to the planning office should help to clarify local policy in this respect.




Magazines such as Homebuilding and Renovating and Build It Magazine have sections advertising building plots and also provide websites with plots for sale. These magazines and other similar ones are a good source of advice on all aspects of self-build.


Plot-Finding Websites


There are a few very good plot-finding websites out there such as:


Once on the plot-finding site, simply enter your plot requirements and search and any plots that fit your criteria will be displayed.



Searching for Plots onThe Internet


Searching the internet using a search engine such as Google or Yahoo can yield some interesting results on available building plots, however a word of warning is called for; do not believe everything that you see or read on the internet. Checking out the building plot on the ground and then using the services of professionals for their advice is the key to avoiding any possible disappointments.


Getting Professional Advice


When you have identified a possible building plot in an area that you like and at an affordable price the next step should be to hire a professional to help you though the planning process and to guide you through planning your build. An architect (member of the RIBA or Architects Registration Board, ARB) or an architectural technologist (member of the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists, CIAT) are the obvious choices, a chartered surveyor (member of the RICS) or a planning consultant (member of the RTPI) are other possible sources of help and advice.


I strongly recommend that you seek professional advice from a qualified architect or architectural technologist on the suitability of your preferred building plot and the likelihood of obtaining planning consent before you purchase the plot.


In the past I have bought a building plot with a legal agreement to buy subject to planning consent being obtained. A solicitor can draw up a binding contract for you to buy the land at an agreed figure once planning approval has been granted, and together with a small deposit in the region of £1,000 to £2,000 this will stop you been gazumped by the seller, as once full planning permission has been granted the land may be more valuable than before.


Subjects in forthcoming articles:


  • Obtaining Planning Consent
  • Planning and Design Tips
  • Costing Your Build and Obtaining Finance
  • Finding A Good Builder
  • Running Your Build Project
  • Extending Your Property
  • Renovating Your Property


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