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Eight Ways to Find Self Build Plots

Written by Suffolk Building Society

14 Dec 2023


Self Build

5 min read

Building your own home can be a rewarding experience; the perfect way to create a property that meets your exact needs in your chosen area. Step one is finding suitable land, so in the first of our self build mini series, we’ll share some tips for locating self build plots.

Our survey revealed that availability of land is one of the top three sticking points holding back would-be self builders. In fact, 1 in 10 people have delayed plans due to not being able to find a suitable plot.

Finding a self build plot might not be easy, but it’s certainly possible, and it helps if you know the right places to look.

  • Plot searching tools – online tools such as PlotBrowser, Plotfinder, and Plotsearch should be your first port of call for sourcing viable building plots. These free sites have thousands of verified land listings. You could also try using a property hunting site like Rightmove, and refining your search to only include ‘land’.
  • Contact estate agents / land agents – it’s worth registering your interest with local estate agents and land agents, as they’ll likely be the first to hear of any sites for sale. Similarly, local architects and surveyors may also be in the know, so it can be useful to reach out to them as well.
  • Go to auctions – self build plots for single houses are frequently sold at auction, often as demolition or rebuilds, so these are worth attending. Your local estate agent may be able to let you know when these are coming up.
  • Sign up to the Right to Build register – Under Right to Build rules, councils in England and Wales are required to grant planning permission on a sufficient number of building plots to meet demand for custom and self build, within a three year period. You can sign up for the Right to Build Register here.
  • Search the brownfield register – Unlike greenfield sites which have never been built on, brownfield sites are previously developed land. These sites have often been used for industrial, commercial, or even agricultural purposes, and now lie derelict and redundant. It’s often cheaper than purchasing greenfield sites, it’s more environmentally friendly and can be easier to get planning permission for. Brownfield registers provide up-to-date information on sites that local authorities consider to be appropriate for residential development. Your local council will have its own brownfield register, where you can download and view the available sites.
  • Check the Planning Register – Viewing Planning Registers can help you be first in line when it comes to available plots. Councils have records of all applications for planning permission. If you can find recent applications for single houses that haven’t yet had approval, the plot may not be advertised yet. This gives you an opportunity to make an approach before others are even aware of it. Many councils will publish their planning registers online, but if not, you could visit your local planning department.
  • Ask locals – as we touched on above, sometimes plots can get snapped up before the wider public even know they’re available, so it helps to let people know you’re looking for land. If you’re not from the area, pub landlords and local shop owners are a good place to start, and don’t forget to leave contact details. You could also put letters through people’s doors, check local Facebook groups or even advertise on community notice boards.
  • Use Google Maps – You can use Google Maps to identify gaps in land. Look out for small bungalows on large bits of land, as well as potential backland plots, all of which provide opportunity for redevelopment.

Before making any firm decisions, it’s worth checking with a lender to ensure funding is available. While you might not think to do this until you’re ready to apply for a mortgage for the build, we always encourage our borrowers to get in touch as early as possible in the process. We can then help you to understand what is likely to work and spot any potential pitfalls early on.

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