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Choosing the right block of land can be half the battle when you’re building a new home.
There are hundreds of things to consider, and making the right choice could be the difference between a life with everything in easy reach, and months spent petitioning town planners for the right to build on the property.
There’s no secret to choosing the right block, it comes down to careful planning. Putting some thought into it and performing simple checks can make sure it’s the plot of your dreams and not a nightmare waiting to happen.
Here’s our list of the top 10 things to consider when choosing land to build a home.
Selecting the right area for your family
1. Check out the neighbourhood. Closely examine the areas you’re looking at. That might sound like an obvious thing, but many people make do with a few visits to the site and some online research to make their decision.
Don’t leave it at that. Spend time in the neighbourhood – drive around on different days of the week, at different times of the day. See what the traffic is like, whether a nearby sporting field clogs the streets with cars every Saturday morning, or if there’s any noise from nearby highways or commercial areas.
2. Consider your amenities. Even if you’re buying rural property to escape the busy city, access to amenities should be high on the list of your considerations. Could you live in a place where it’s an hour round trip to the grocery store? Are there adequate schools, universities, doctors and hospitals to keep your family happy and healthy? Do you have access to public transport, to airports for travel or to highways for a shorter commute?
Think about your life, now and into the future, and consider whether the amenities surrounding you will be able to provide what you’re looking for in a new home.
3. Utilities and services. The availability of utilities and services, like internet, town water and waste, electricity, mobile reception and even rubbish collection all make a difference to your life. If a block doesn’t have access to these things you may need to budget for the additional expense of installing the service or finding an alternative.
Additionally, the availability of electricity and sewer lines can make constructing your new home a much bigger hassle, and your builder may charge more for their services as a result.
Check your legal requirements
4. Town planning and zoning. Before you go any further it’s worth checking with your local council to uncover any town planning or zoning requirements on the block. Planning and zoning issues don’t need to be the end of your dream location, but they may require time and fees to have the rules changed to accommodate your vision for the property.
5. Covenants. Sometimes a block of land will be subject to a legal restriction called a covenant. A covenant is typically a private agreement between property owners that limits what you’re able to build on a given site.
Covenants mostly apply to investors looking to develop a piece of land. For example, a covenant between surrounding landowners may prevent the development of townhomes or an apartment block. For private buyers building a residence, a covenant is unlikely to cause any issues.
6. Surveyors. The exact size and layout of a site will determine what sort of home you’re able to build. You’ll need to engage the services of a surveyor to provide a report with site details that will be important when it’s time to design your build.
Assess your building requirements
7. Get the lay of the land. Not every site is flat and level, and an uneven block doesn’t need to be a dealbreaker, but the shape of your block could alter the difficulty and expense of construction.
Additional earthworks to a site can be costly if major cutting and filling is required. Even if you choose to build a home with a raised foundation, the grade and direction of any slopes could have a major impact on earthworks, engineering and construction expenses.
8. Access to the block. Most of us end up building homes with great access to roads and transport infrastructure. For large blocks, those with narrow streets, large hills or generally poor access, construction expenses may increase if heavy machinery is unable to access the site.
Concrete trucks, excavators, cranes and other trucks will all need to get to your build at some point. Extra expenses may apply if those machines can’t reach your slab.
9. Soil testing. A staple of any pre-purchase inspection is to have a soil test performed. A tester will measure the composition of the ground you’re building on and provide a report to be submitted alongside your planning approval once you’re ready to build.
10. Engage a conveyancer. When buying property through a private agreement, the best thing you can do is engage a conveyancer. A conveyancer will facilitate the transfer of the property, ensure all legal documentation is in place and perform checks which could reveal potential problems you may have overlooked.
Getting it right
There’s lots of things to consider when buying land. The good news is, in established areas or new developments, the issues above will likely be addressed by the builder or developer as standard. Home and land contracts should detail the work your builder will do to ensure all legal and engineering requirements are met, such as performing soil tests and submitting planning applications.
Get Land Advice from Our Team
At the end of the day, if you would rather purchase a block of land on your own, then careful planning is all it takes. Consulting with local real estate agents, surveyors, town planners and builders can help determine where to buy and whether the block is the best fit for the budget, home and lifestyle you envision.