If you’ve decided to build your own home, instead of buying an existing home, one of the most important early considerations is the block of land. Your dream home starts with the perfect piece of land.
Whether you’re looking at a pre-prepared lot in a major suburban development or a rural lot in an undeveloped country area, there’s lots to consider when choosing your land. So, let’s have a look at some of the most common considerations when it comes to buying land.
Anyone who’s ever spoken to a real estate agent or read a real estate block has heard the phrase “Location, location, location.” And for good reason. The location of the block will affect a range of factors including cost, the price of utilities, the zoning, lifestyle and more.
So, suffice it to say, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to location. You should start by thinking about what’s going to be the most important to you. Do you want to be in a bustling, active urban area or a quiet country area? Do you need access to public transport, schools or universities, hospitals or healthcare providers or other essential amenities? Make sure you research the location thoroughly to ensure it can offer the amenities and lifestyle you want.
You should also consider the location’s environmental factors. Is it in an area that’s prone to bushfires, flooding or cyclones? Besides the risk to personal safety and property, these environmental factors can also increase the cost of insurance and financing.
You should also check with the council to see if there are any existing development plans. Major developments, like infrastructure projects or commercial or high-rise construction, could significantly alter the area you choose to buy in and affect your block’s aspect and value.
- Size, Shape and Orientation
The size of the block is obviously an important factor to consider. Is the block big enough to comfortably fit the home you’re planning to build? Does it provide enough outdoor space? Will you need to build a two-storey house to have enough space?
When it comes to the shape of the block, most are simply rectangular blocks that face the street. However, there are other irregular shaped blocks of land including battleaxe blocks, triangular and corner blocks. These can have their advantages. For example, battleaxe blocks are often cheaper than street-facing blocks and corner blocks can be good for subdivision. However, these irregular shaped blocks can be difficult to sell at a later date.
Orientation is also an important consideration. The direction the block faces will affect the way the home is designed, the location of living areas and the general feel of the home. Ideally, you want the rear of the block to be facing north. This lets you take advantage of natural light and makes it easier to heat and cool the home.
If the block has particularly appealing views, this orientation may be a secondary concern, but in most cases the northerly aspect is important to consider.
A sloping block with attractive views may be enticing, but make sure you know what you’re getting into. A sloping block will require much more costly and time-consuming site preparation. To prepare the site to lay the slab, the builder may have to carve into the slope and build retaining walls to stabilise the soil. This kind of site preparation can significantly add to the building costs. Sloping blocks can also have issues with drainage, especially of the house as at the bottom of the slope or below street level.
If you’re looking at a custom or designer home, you should definitely have any sloping block inspected by a professional builder to ensure your design is suitable for the block.
- Soil Composition
In established suburban developments, thorough soil testing should already have been done. However, if you’re buying in an undeveloped rural area, you may need to get the soil tested for quality and composition. The soil composition can affect the cost of the foundations, the amount of earthworks required and the stability of the earth.
- Zoning Restrictions
The zoning restrictions on a piece of land determine what the block can and can’t be used for. While your real estate agent will be able to run you through the zoning for your block, it’s also important to check the zoning for the surrounding areas. The last thing you want is an industrial development or a high-rise apartment building going up next to your home. By checking the zoning restrictions with the local council, you can make sure you can build what you want on your block, while being confident that no unwanted developments will go up around you.
- The Cost of Utilities
Blocks in established urban developments will already have street connections for electricity, water, sewerage, gas, stormwater and telecommunications. However, blocks in undeveloped rural and country areas may need to have additional infrastructure built before the utilities can be connected. And that can be very expensive.
Before dropping serious money on a block of land, it’s always worth getting a site inspection from a registered builder. This is less important if you’re looking to buy in a major suburban residential development as the blocks have generally been mass prepared. But if you’re looking at a rural area or a recently subdivided block, a site inspection can save you some serious money when it comes to construction.