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The Complete Guide to Finding a Plot

When you decide to go down the route of buying a plot of land for your new home, you will instantly find yourself in a bit of a race.  There are other self-builders, small builders, people working in the development industry and even ‘land finders’ who specifically find and buy plots of land.  That means you need some tactics to help you find the plot you want.

Top tips for that hunt

Using all these resources is an important part of your search but you need to know what you are looking for.  Here are some top spots for a potentially perfect home:

  • Between and behind houses – easy to get planning permission and often good access to roads and utilities
  • Houses of a similar size and quality – these may be valued in a way that makes it worthwhile buying the house, demolishing it and rebuilding
  • Disused land and brownfield sites – a petrol station site might not seem like the perfect plot but don’t discount them

Don’t have too many preconceptions

When you start hunting for a plot, it is important to keep an open mind.  Many people fail in their search because they won’t compromise – they have this precise vision of what they want.  Now, this is a good thing, but you also need to have some flexibility because the chances of finding exactly what you want can be slim.  Instead, think about what is essential and also what you would like but be ready to adjust that as you go.

If you do have some specific requirements about where you will live, then this will limit the number of sites you can consider.  But if you have an idea of the kind of house you want but less about where, then you have more options. Also, think about the combination – a traditional English village is less likely to give permission for an ultra-modern house right in the middle.  Match your style of house to the area you are considering.

Understand plot types

There are lots of different types of plots out there and it can be good to understand and consider them.  Sure, a plot with packaged planning permission is ideal but you don’t need to limit yourself to these.

For example, there could be a plot of land behind an estate that isn’t visible from the street but would be perfect for your needs.  There may even be older houses that you can buy, demolish and rebuild that is in a perfect location.

Look at maps

Following the idea of understanding plot types is to look at maps and spot those potential locations.  Google Maps and Streetview can be great to get some ideas about those possible spaces and what a location would look like.  You may even find one of those little spots that are ideal for your new home but doesn’t come up on searches.

Know the area

If you have an area you want to live in, then get to know it. Familiarize yourself with it and do some research.  Don’t pick too large an area or you can find yourself spending more time doing this than anything.

Check out land listing agencies

Land listing agencies don’t always collect date for people to use to search for plots but there are some out there you can use.  Homebuilding & Renovating is one example and there are specialist agencies out there too. These often collect information from people selling land as well as estate agents then let subscribers have access.  This can be a quick and painless way to find potential sites.

You can also look for land agencies and estate agents in your target area and sign up with them that you are interested in a plot of land.

Go to the planning department

When you submit a planning permission request for anything, this goes to the planning department of the local authority.  All decisions, both accepted and declined, are placed on the Planning Register and this is available to view in the planning department or even on their website.

Look for recent applications, mostly outlines for single houses.  If the approval hasn’t come through, this is best. A plot will not usually be advertised for sale until planning permission has been granted because it is then worth more.  

If you find an application, note the details and approach them – they may be the owner or the person handling it.  You can then find out if they are selling the plot and have a chat with them about it.

Also look at the local plan for the area and see if there are any new potential areas for house building that will be coming up.  If there’s a pending revision of the Land Plan, this can be a good time to spot those plots.

Sign up with estate agents and auctions

Not all estate agents can help when you are searching for a plot of land, so hunt down the ones who can and sign up with them.  They might have a mailing list or something similar that can let you know if anything comes up. The same applies to property auctions – you can find where these are held and sign up for them, so you know when they are coming around.

Don’t be afraid to chase up estate agents as well – remember they are busy people and sometimes need a little prompt.  Give them a call or even call into the office to see if they have any leads on new plots.

Also if you plant o see your house then rent until you find your plot, aim for an agent who sells land.  This gets you to the top of their list when something comes up you might want because you are already a good client

Tell everyone you are searching

Use that network to its full potential – get friends and family on the hunt for those plots or at least spotting information.  Don’t be afraid to tell people on social media and ask them to watch out for you. You may even find Facebook groups or hashtags on Twitter that can help with the search.  Also chat with builders online and in person as they are a great source of information.

planning permissionDon’t worry about current plans

If you do find a plot and there are plans for it that you hate, don’t worry.  Builders normally opt for the least controversial type of property to get that planning permission in place – usually bungalows or small houses.  But you can also apply to upgrade this planning permission for the type of property you want.

Check out custom build schemes

The custom build route is producing hundreds of plots for the market where developers and councils release land for large-scale self-build.  You might find that perfect plot on the edge of a development that is just what you want.

Get to know professionals

Like chatting with builders, there are other areas where you can get to know people who might have information about plots.  You can talk with self-build companies and architects for the planning stage and find out if they have any ideas about plots.  Just check to see if you are tied to using them if they help you find a plot.

Professional land finders are another service to consider.  They may not be the best option, but it never hurts to approach them – they tend to work mostly with big companies.

Viewing a plot

You may think you have found the perfect plot but make sure that you always view it before you do anything.  Look at accessibility, size and provision of services as well as location.

Please check out our Oak self-build home kits for some inspiration.