Buying A Block Of Land? Here’s 10 Things You Need To Consider

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There’s no doubt that buying land to build your dream home is exciting, but it can also be fraught with danger. We’ve all heard the nightmare stories of land that has cost the unfortunate buyers thousands in hidden expenses before they could even start building. In some cases, they were unable to build on the land at all!

Thankfully, when you know what to look for, you can spot the potential pitfalls and instead find a block that ticks every box.

So, if you’re building a new home and are looking for some guidance, read on to learn 10 essential considerations when you purchase a block of land.

1. Size and shape

It sounds obvious, but getting the right size land is a must. On a smaller block, your level of choice when it comes to house design depends largely on the shape and dimensions of your land. A narrow block will limit your options to a degree, however, small design homes can be custom designed to suit. Other size considerations include having space for infrastructure outside the home, such as a garage, shed, water tank or septic system.

2. The ideal location

Purchasing land in a prime location will not only benefit your lifestyle now, but your resale price will continue to grow too. Do your research on specific suburbs and towns to find out more about them. If possible arrange a visit, where you spend a few hours or a day in the area to get a feel for it. When it comes to choosing the block, make sure it has easy access to schools, transport, shops and a hospital.

3. Site features

In an ideal world, the land you buy will be flat, but land comes in all shapes and sizes. Building on a flat town block or new allotment can make the build less complicated, but those blocks generally come at a premium price. On the other hand, sloping blocks can be secured for less, however, you’ll likely need to cover additional costs such as site excavation, retaining walls, a sub-floor structure and balustrades. This will eat into the cost difference so be sure to factor that in when making your decision.

4. Soil class 

A soil test to discover the class (i.e. the type) of soil found on site is a must before you purchase any land. This is important to know because the physical and chemical components in certain types of soil can cause major issues. Some interact with water by absorbing it and changing shape, while others are prone to erosion. This can lead to problems with stability and damage to your home down the track. Knowing this before you purchase the land gives you a far clearer picture of the suitability and potential hidden costs.

5. Orientation 

The direction your block faces and the features that surround it makes a huge difference to the level of comfort, aesthetics and the amount of power you’ll need to use to heat and cool your new home. Ideally you’d like a block that is light, bright and maximises solar passive gains. In most locations around Australia, a north-facing living room is optimum but you should talk to your builder about the unique features of your land to be sure the orientation and layout take full advantage of the available natural elements.

6. Planning permits and regulations

When you build a new home in NSW, it’s essential that you are aware of and comply with any local and state planning laws that are applicable to your land. The best place to start is to check with the local council as they can provide location-specific information on your block. Working with a builder who handles this aspect of the build is a real plus, as they will streamline the process and take the stress of managing it off your shoulders.

7. Bushfire risk

In recent times we have witnessed tragic fires that have destroyed homes and taken lives. In light of this, there are now strict rules and requirements for anyone building in a bushfire prone area. In NSW these areas are first identified by the local council, then certified by the Commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service. You can check if the rules apply to your land using the online bushfire prone land mapping tool. If your land is in a designated zone, you will need to obtain a BAL (Bushfire Attack Level) rating to discover the level of risk, and follow the regulations that apply when building. This may involve using specific materials on your new home, clearing vegetation around the house or installing a water tank.

8. Service availability

While those who live in cities and urban areas take it for granted, there are many rural and country blocks that are not yet connected to town services. If you’re keen on a block that isn’t yet connected, it’s important to find out where the services are located so you can work out how much to budget for connections. Your builder can help you with some estimates on this. Sometimes the connections are hard to access or too far away for it to be economical, in which case you may need to consider on-site services such as a water tank, solar panels and a septic system. Once again, these can add significant costs to your build, so make sure you find out about this before you decide to buy.

9. Easements

An easement is a section of land that someone who doesn’t own the land has the right to access or use. There are many different types of easements, including a right of way easement such as a shared driveway, or an easement for services where gas, electricity or telecommunications pipes or cables that service the community run through the land. You can find out if an easement exists on the land by checking the property title and it’s important to do this before you buy as it may affect your ability to build your new home.

10. Restrictions and covenants

Restrictions and covenants are basically limitations or guidelines on how and what you can build. These could relate to things like the size, colour, building materials and landscaping that you are allowed to do. Most often you’ll find these requirements apply in new estates and developments where they are put in place to maintain the aesthetics, health, and economic value of the community.

Bonus tip: Always look at the whole picture

When buying land, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of it all and fall in love with a block that looks ideal on the surface, but always look at the whole picture before committing. 

Buying land to build a house is one of the biggest purchases you’ll make, so getting great value is key. It’s also critical that you don’t overspend on your land and leave yourself short to build your dream home. Your due diligence here comes back to understanding that the purchase price of the block isn’t always reflective of the total cost. You should always be aware of and include those potential hidden costs that can pop up into your budget. Doing so could save you a mountain of time, money and headaches.

Have a question or need some advice about buying a block of land to build your dream home? Get in touch with our friendly team today!

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