Buying a block of land

Land for sale sign on hillKnow what questions you should ask when buying a block of land

Buying a block of land is the first step in building your new custom home. This seems a simple enough task, but choosing the wrong block of land can have far reaching implications in terms of cost to build, home building design ideas and energy efficiency.

Blocks of land come in all shapes and sizes. There are blocks of land in new residential subdivisions that are fully serviced. There are blocks where the owner has subdivided a large block of land into a number of smaller parcels. Then there are small acreages that are popular with people who want a semi rural setting in relative close proximity to a large city. Whatever the shape, size or location of the block of land you are interested in, there are a few questions you should ask before buying.

Like the house that you will eventually build, the block of land that you fall in love with will have a number of factors that have made it the one for you. The reason for buying it is a personal choice and one based as much on emotion as it is on more practical issues such as budget.

Although it will be virtually impossible to find the perfect block which has all the correct attributes, being aware of some of the items that could cost you will help to ensure you are buying a block of land which is best suited to you.

In this series of articles we will explain some of the key attributes to look for when choosing the right a block of land.

Some helpful tips to consider when buying a block of land

With the growing demand for land, buying a block is often made off plan and before the land is subdivided. You will often visit a land office and the only clue as to where your block is located is the lot sign at the front of it. Without roads, drains, street lights and footpaths in place you need to be sure you will get what you have purchased. Researching the block of land you wish to buy cannot be understated.

1. Block Location and Local Amenities

Buying a block of land close to services such as shops, parks and schools can save you travel time. A school and shops within walking distance is a big advantage. However being too close to them or busy roads may have issues with noise which can put potential buyers off when it comes to selling. Corner blocks can be less popular with perceptions of increased build cost, less privacy and security. Buying a block of land at the entry of the estate can have considerably more traffic which could be a disadvantage. On the other hand buying a block of land that fronts parkland will be in demand and generally fetch a premium.

2. Land Block Size

Before buying a block of land it is a good idea to do some research on house designs. This will ensure that the block that you have in mind will be able to fit the house plan you are likely to build. Setbacks, building envelopes and height restrictions can reduce the amount of land you can place your home on. Although most plans can be altered to suit a block, this will often require a compromise on many aspects of the plan you love and the dream home you wanted.

3. House Block Orientation

Good orientation is probably on of the most important factors in choosing a block. You should always aim to have your living and outdoor entertaining areas facing a Northerly aspect. This is of great importance if you want to have light airy living spaces and a good energy rating. Read our blog article about your house position on a block on this important topic.

4. Impact of Slope of the Land for Building A Home

The flatter the block the cheaper the build. With land in great demand more and more subdivisions are opening up on land that is classified as steep or difficult. A steep block can add many thousands of dollars to the cost of the building. Read our article building on sloping sites for more information on this topic.

5. Lighting in the Area and Building

You will probably have viewed the block of land you want to buy in daylight. Although only a minor thing for some people, light pollution from street lamps directly outside a newly built home can be a source of great annoyance for others. Large street lamps can cause your home to being bathed in constant light at night and filtering into the home. If the block of land you are looking to buy faces down a street or is on a T intersection your home will be exposed to car lights lighting up rooms whilst stopping and turning at the intersection. This can be a source discomfort if the front rooms of your home are bedrooms.

6. Checking Facilities And Future Builds

The developer has more than likely set aside land for future facilities. Before buying a block of land it is a good idea to check where they are to be built in relation to your preferred block. As a example, a supermarket may be proposed some time in the future and years after you move in. Although a supermarket close by can be a convenience, if it is particularly close by you may be exposed to excessive traffic, noise and parking problems. On the other hand where facilities are not yet in place, do some research to find out where and when they are likely to be built. There is nothing worse than looking out at wasteland whilst the council decides what to do with a site or dealing with a building site opposite your new home that may go on for a year or two.

7. Other checks to be conducted

  • Check with the developer or the council to see what restrictive covenants apply to the block of land you are looking to buy. Although restrictive covenants ensure good quality housing, some developments can have quite onerous guidelines that can add cost to the building of your home
  • Before you buy a block of land check whether the area is prone to natural disasters such as floods & bush fires. These will require special building requirements to comply with these issues which could add cost to your building
  • Check to see if there are any easements on the block you are looking to buy. Although easements are quite easy to deal with, building over an easement or close to one can have some impact on your design and the cost of building
  • Is is always a good idea to get a soil test on the block you are looking to buy? A soil test is not expensive and could save you thousands of dollars if it shows anything in the ground that could be of a concern. Rocks in particular can add substantial cost to excavations and foundations.
  • Although unusual to find a block un-serviced these days, it still does not hurt to check. Acreage sites in particular may not have all the services you expect. Bringing these in could be expensive or they may not be available at all. Sewerage, gas and water are often the services not available in these types of areas.

Buying a block of land is an exciting first step in building your dream home. Make sure that you have all the information you require before committing to buy your dream site to avoid cost and disappointment. Renmark Homes are experienced builders and happy to discuss the block of land you have in mind to make sure you are making the right choice. Call us on 1300 367 245