If you are seriously interested in buying a plot of land for self build, you will need to arrange an inspection of the site after receiving the vendor’s details. Apart from the general criteria mentioned here you will need to check the following points which are specific to the site.
- Does the size and shape of the plot accord with the description in the sale information?
- Are the boundaries clear and do they match up with the sales blurb? It is not unusual for boundaries to have ‘shifted’ slightly over the years thanks to neighbours having ‘half-inched’ bits they took a fancy to. It is also quite common for boundaries to be unclear due to mistakes having been made in the copying of previous deeds. This sometimes happens when large estates of land are progressively broken up into smaller areas and anomalies creep in. What might have originally been a small and irrelevant wiggle in the hedge between two fields might turn out to crucially affect the area needed for a parking space or driveway. The red lines on deed drawings can be taken to represent a line 30 cm wide on the ground. Are there any ambiguous boundaries such as when two fences have been erected parallel with a significant gap between them?
- Are the access points satisfactory?
- Do existing buildings (if any) on the plot tally with the sales information and what sort of condition are they in?
- Does the land look like it has been disturbed in a major way? For instance, has it had previous buildings, roads or drainage works? Has the land been used for dumping of rubbish or pollutants? Remediationthe term applied to the method of dealing with pollutants and contaminants in the ground. The Building Regulations cover this in detail. See info about Approved Document C – Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture of land can be extremely costly. Are there any alien plant species present? See the section in the Building RegulationsThese are the mass of regulations that cover safety, health, welfare, convenience, energy efficiency etc. in the way buildings are constructed. Not to be confused with Planning consent (which is more to do with whether you can put up the building in the first place). See more on the regulations about ‘Unsuitable Material’
- Are there any signs of watercourses running under or over the land? Are there any signs of flooding?
- Are there any cables running above the site?
- Is anyone using the sight illegally at present?
If any of the above points give reason for concern then you may need to carry out a survey before proceeding.