12 May 2023 - Self Build, Architects

How to find a plot of land for self-build projects

Self-build land plots are an attractive option if you want to create a unique, custom-built home tailored to your specific needs and preferences. Purchasing a self-build plot presents the opportunity to design and build your own home from scratch, choosing everything from the layout and materials to the fixtures and fittings - but finding the plot can be challenging.

Here, we discuss how to find a self-build plot and highlight key things to consider when choosing the perfect one for your project.

What is a self-build plot?

A self-build plot is a piece of land purchased with the intention of building a home on it. Plots of land for self-build projects are often sold by developers, landowners, or local authorities, and are usually sold with planning permission for a single dwelling or small development of homes.

However, they can require a significant amount of time, effort, and investment, as self-builders are responsible for managing the planning and construction process themselves. Nonetheless, the process of building your own home can be highly rewarding and fulfilling, and self-build plots can offer a way to achieve this dream.

How to find a plot of land for self-build projects

Finding the perfect place to build your dream home can feel like finding a needle in a haystack, but between local planning authorities, self-build plot finders, local estate agents and auctions, and self-build associations, there are several avenues to explore in order to find a plot for self-building.

Local planning authorities

Check with your local planning authority or land registry to see if there are any self-build plots available in your area. They may also have information about upcoming land releases and planning applications that could be of interest.

Self-build plot finders

Look at self-build plot findersand online property portalssuch as Plotfinder, Buildstore, and Rightmove. Be sure to keep an open mind and consider potentially overlooked plots, such as infill plots or backland development. And don’t overlook houses that are for sale that may not be what you are looking for, but could be demolished and replaced.

Local estate agents and auctions

Contact local estate agents and let them know you’re interested in finding a self-build plot. They may be able to advise you on available plots or put you in touch with developers that are planning new developments. Local estate agents are also the most likely to run auctions for local land, where self-build plots may be sold at a lower price than on the open market.

Key considerations for self-build land plots

Due diligence is crucial when scouting a self-build plot, and it’s important to carry out thorough research before making an offer or purchasing the land.

Self-build associations

Join a self-build association or community group in your area. These groups often have access to information about self-build plots and can provide support and advice throughout the planning and building process. The NaCSBA members directory is also invaluable for helping to find plots and other self-build services.

Planning permission

Obviously, planning permission is crucial for a self-build project. If your dream plot currently has planning permission for a house you’d never consider building, it’s usually because the developer has submitted plans for the least controversial option in order to get the outline planning permission. You may well be able to upgrade this planning approval to the kind of house you want.

However, if the plot is being marketed without planning permission, ask why, as this can ring some alarm bells. It costs just £335 to apply for outline planning permission, and can turn a relatively inexpensive field into a plot worth a significant amount of money. Resist the temptation to buy a cheap plot of land on the basis that planning permission will be granted ‘one day’, and instead make an offer subject to achieving satisfactory planning permission (and any other required consents) for a design you’re happy with.

Build factors

While they may not be exciting, factors such as soil quality, access to utilities, and obstacles such as overhead cables and underground pipes may affect the feasibility of building on the plot and must be looked into. For example, a sloping site could necessitate a split-level house or significant excavation, which may impact on construction costs.

Vehicle access

Unless the plot is near a city or town centre, it will have to have sufficient parking to meet the council’s standards, as there must be a way of reaching it by car. Consider whether there’s safe access with good visibility in both directions along the principal road, and enough space to turn a vehicle on site. If not, you might need a traffic assessment to accompany your planning application.

Need more advice on self-build projects? Break down the journey step-by-step, or explore our self-build resources.

Share this