Terry’s Guide to Self Building: Finding A Plot

In the second part of his blog series, self builder Terry Brown Waite covers finding the perfect plot

Terry on site

There’s no denying that building your own home comes with a lot more drama than simply buying a house on the open market. But we self builders are made of stern stuff and achieving that one-of-a-kind bespoke home is certainly worth the leg work.

For me, one of the biggest challenges was finding a suitable plot at a reasonable price. It took about three years of searching before we found our current spot. We registered at numerous estate agents and attended more auctions that I care to remember but sadly, we always seemed to be outbid – usually by a local developer.

Here are some hints on how to make the process a bit easier.

Where to look

As always, the Internet is the best place to start, with Buildstore’s PlotSearch being one of the most useful sites. Personal contacts are still a vital source of information though, so don’t neglect getting out there and building relationships with estate agents and architects in your preferred area, as often they will hear about plots before they are advertised anywhere else. Word of mouth is a powerful tool!

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box either, if you see a piece of land that would be ideal, get in touch with the owner and ask if they’d consider selling. Disused spaces such as infill sites, side gardens or empty garage blocks could all be a possibility and often the owners may not have even considered the potential revenue within them. Another option is to demolish an existing property and start again on the land, so it’s best to keep an open mind throughout your search.

Right to Build

The Right to Build is a piece of legislation that came into force in 2016 under the Housing and Planning Act, which holds local authorities responsible for providing enough suitable, serviced plots to meet self build demand in their area. The demand is measured by Right To Build registers held by the council, so make sure you make sure your details are recorded – find your local register through the National Custom and Self Build Association’s portal.

Self build communities

In the end, we found our perfect spot when we had the opportunity to snap up one of the first 10 plots on the UK’s largest dedicated self and custom build development, Graven Hill in Bicester. Up to 1,900 completely bespoke or highly personalised homes will be built on the site over the next 10 years, creating an exciting and diverse neighbourhood. Already, the community spirit on our street has been amazing – everyone has the same focus and we’ve all pitched in to help on each other’s projects.

I appreciate that we are extremely lucky, as there are not many projects like Graven Hill across the country, but the growing trend for community self builds is now making it easier for groups of like-minded people to join together and take on larger plots suitable for several properties. The Community Self Build Agency is an excellent place to find information on this, as well as details of any live community builds taking place in your area.