The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Home - - FRONT PAGE - cather­ Main pic­ture Bob Barker More mc­don­ald­

Blocks of land come in all sorts of shapes, slopes and sizes, and you would be hard pressed to find one that ticks all the right boxes in the sub­urb where you want to build.

While there are some mi­nor land ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties that can be over­looked in favour of liv­ing in your de­sired sub­urb or set­ting, it’s im­por­tant to know how much it will cost to pre­pare your block for build­ing.

Mc­Don­ald Jones Homes’ direc­tor of sales Phil Haigh says sav­ing money isn’t al­ways the end ob­jec­tive when build­ing your dream home, and home­own­ers who want to take in views will ob­vi­ously want to build on an el­e­vated block.

“The only thing we would say is, you need to know what you are get­ting into from the very be­gin­ning,” says Phil.

“Most peo­ple we come across are look­ing to make it eas­ier for the builder and the land­scaper to do their job ef­fi­ciently.”

For some, the per­fect block of land is pan­cake flat.

“In our in­dus­try that’s what we call a com­pletely flat block that will save you money be­cause you won’t nec­es­sar­ily need re­tain­ing walls, edge beams or pier­ing,” Phil says. “There are all these hid­den costs you have to pay for if your land is sloped.”

Land that has a slight fall is man­age­able, be­cause ma­chines can be brought in to con­tour the land to cre­ate a level pad.

But most peo­ple will steer clear of blocks with large trees, even though Phil says there’s no real rea­son to.

“Trees are not a huge ob­sta­cle,” he says. “You can put in an ap­pli­ca­tion to move trees within 3m of the house go­ing up.”

If you’re build­ing with a developer on a sub­di­vi­sion, they would have al­ready cleared the land of trees, ready for a slab to go down.

Fire dan­ger

Phil rec­om­mends buy­ing a block of land well away from bush­fire zones if you’re on a bud­get. Build­ing costs will spi­ral as homes have to be built to a cer­tain stan­dard — and some­times in a cer­tain lo­ca­tion — to com­ply with state reg­u­la­tions.

“The closer you are to the bush, the more ex­pen­sive it will be to build,” he says. “In fact, if you buy land in a flame zone (the high­est level of fire dan­ger), a lot of builders won’t take that on. “That would be a very ex­pen­sive ex­er­cise.” An­other is­sue to con­sider when buy­ing a block of land is site ac­ces­si­bil­ity.

You need to ask your­self how easy it is for ma­te­ri­als to be de­liv­ered and dropped off and whether ev­ery­thing from heavy ma­chin­ery to wheel­bar­rows can move around the site.

“Be­ing aware of these is­sues when de­cid­ing on a block can save you money,” Phil says.

If there is lim­ited ac­cess from the main road, or if the land is too steep for trucks to ac­cess the site and cranes need to be hired to trans­port ma­te­ri­als, the build­ing costs will be jacked up.

If you’re buy­ing a block on a main road, check with coun­cil about costs as­so­ci­ated with traf­fic con­trol. “It all comes at a cost to the clients,” says Phil. ‘‘Some places have No Stop­ping or lim­ited park­ing. If we need sev­eral hours to off­load ma­te­ri­als, where are the trucks go­ing to stop?”

South side

When you’re con­sid­er­ing the as­pect of a po­ten­tial site, Phil says think­ing about where your liv­ing spa­ces will be can help.

“We rec­om­mend clients look for north­ern light at the rear,” he says. “As builders, we wouldn’t buy a block un­less it had a rear north-fac­ing block,” he says.

“In new home de­signs, most of the liv­ing ar­eas are at the back of the home.”

“You can’t have sun on all sides of the house at all times, so hav­ing sun-soaked liv­ing ar­eas would be the most ideal.”

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