03 Mar 2014

Plot purchasing checklist


Just because you’ve found an ideal plot in the perfect location, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right place to build your dream home. Conduct careful research to ensure that your land doesn’t create any unexpected costs. Mike McMillan, Quantity Surveyor at Charlie Laing building advice specialists, provides a plot purchasing checklist to ensure your project starts on good stead.


The price of a plot should reflect what can be built on it. For example, if it is only for a small house then the final value of the house will be lower than a larger property and the value of the plot should be in proportion. Use the following formula as a guide to check if the asking price is reasonable: plot value = final value of house – (build cost + 20-30%).


Is there good access for the building process and also for the completed property; is it near a busy road junction? If the existing access isn’t good then can it be moved and will it require visibility splays on the road?

What services are already on the plot and if not, how far away are mains services and drainage? This can cause large expenses if they are a great distance away, especially in more rural locations.

Have any trial pits been dug? Check for any contamination, the water table level, any rock in the soil and the stability of existing foundations.

Check the flood risk assessment register as raising a building above ground level can be expensive.

Are there are any ransom strips to be removed by paying off neighbours? A ransom strip is a small strip of land that is retained by a previous owner or neighbour, often in place to benefit from future development. If there are ransom strips then the amount required to release the ransom should be deducted from the purchase price.

Are there any restrictive covenants or easements attached to the plot? These are legal agreements tied to the land that could prohibit development.

Are there any rights of way across the plot or tree preservation orders that could affect your design?

Are there any plant pests that need to be removed before the project can get underway? Look out for Japanese Knotweed and Giant Hogweed.

What are other properties in the area like; are there likely to be objections from neighbours?

Planning Permission

Has the piece of land already got planning permission?

Yes - Is it outline or detailed? Outline planning permission is valid for three years only and it can take 12 weeks to get outline planning permission converted to detailed planning permission.

No – Buying a plot without planning permission is a risk and the price should reflect that. However, you can agree to buy a plot subject to gaining planning permission and withdraw if the application is not successful.

Further information....

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