Finding land is the first and biggest hurdle – and it deters many prospective self-builders. Unless you are lucky enough to own land, finding a suitable plot from scratch is likely to take time and effort. Not only are the most popular areas highly develo
A recent survey by the National Custom and SelfBuild Association (NaCSBA) revealed the toughest obstacles faced by self-build hopefuls. A staggering 56 per cent claimed finding an affordable/suitable site with which to build their own home was by far the biggest challenge they faced. Mike Hardwick, NaCSBA CEO, said, ‘ These figures make interesting reading and echo the views of self and custom builders that I meet. The demand for land is still well above the available supply and so many of our supporters are eager to start their projects in the next couple of years but are held back by this critical shortfall.’ Starting a self-build can be very easy if you or your family already own a suitable piece of land, or it may take years of effort if you have geographical or budgetary constraints. Once you have worked out what budget you have available, you can find out about plots of land for sale which may be suitable for self build from a number of sources. There are several websites that allow you to search for details of plots for sale, although for some of these you need to pay a fee for membership. A range of websites are available, such as Buildstore-Plotsearch, UK Land Directory Ltd or plotfinder.net. You can also look around for other potential sites in the area you are interested in by: searching the Scottish Property website for suitable public sector land for sale; checking your local Solicitors Property Centre or estate agents; looking out for ‘For Sale’ signs; approaching local private developers with undeveloped or partly developed land to see if they would consider selling you a plot; seeing if there are any community trusts in the area which may have land available for self builders, especially if you want to build in a rural area; considering sites with a derelict property which could be demolished or substantially renovated. See estate agents or the Buildings at Risk Register to find possible properties. Some other methods for plot hunting include networking (ask all your friends on Facebook to look out for one for you, for example); contacting estate agents and landowners, checking out auction houses, hiring agents to search for you, advertising in the local press, in pubs and shops, and with mobile workers such as taxi drivers, mobile gardeners and hairdressers. You can also search an area for an untended garden or neglected building, and then approach the owners. If you have a defined search area, buy a high resolution Ordnance Survey map as this can sometimes help you identify quirky potential infill sites that are not visible from the main roads. Google Earth can sometimes be useful for this too.