Ten important factors to consider when choosing a block of land

Is that block of land right for you? There are many factors to consider when selecting and purchasing a block of land for building a home or a property development project. Here are some important things to help with the decision.

Size, shape, orientation and slope of the block of land

Got a particular house style or design in mind? It’s not normally a problem on bigger plots, but in suburban and urban areas, the width and depth of the plot will determine what sort of house you can build. Likewise, if the plot is on a significant slope, either the land will need to be cut and filled, or you’ll need to build a house that takes that slope into account. It’s worth remembering that while these things might make your house more spectacular, they’re also likely to cost a fair bit more.

Uncover easements and impediments

Check the Land Title Certificate carefully, visit the Council and approach the relevant bodies to discover whether there are encumbrances on your land as an easement in the backyard may be a small thing unless it happens to be where you want to put the pool. This may not affect how you use the block today but could be vitally important to whether you can profitably sell your home in the future.

Utilities availability

Contact utility companies to check the cost of connecting your block of land to water, gas and electricity if the service connections are not included.

Restrictions on how you can build

Different councils can have very different rules, which can limit how you build. Depending on the council, there may be rules about what style of house you can build, what colours and materials are appropriate, where on the plot you can situate your house and even what kind of fence you can have (among other things).

Please see below link for an example of Guidelines to a land development in the Perth southern suburbs.
www.goldenbay.com.au/GoldenBay/media/PDF-s/PGOL0085-Design-Guidelines-Update-WEB_2.pdf

R Codes

Your R Codes (residential design codes) on your block will dictate certain requirements that must be met. This is probably more relevant if you’re purchasing a block with the intention of subdividing later. If you are purchasing and hoping to subdivide as a means of investment, we highly recommend not taking the word of the real estate agent as to what can be done. Instead, pay for a feasibility assessment first to ensure you can do what you’re hoping to do.

Green Titled or Survey Strata

Be sure to understand what rights your title gives you.

  • A green title means that you own everything within the boundaries of your lot.
  • A survey strata title means that you are sharing part of your property with a neighbour, such as a driveway or bin area. A survey strata titled block might also require monthly fees for common areas.

Choosing a Development Site

This is extremely crucial if it is to be successful. It requires research, research and more research. Most first-time developers can’t afford to develop property in areas such as capital cities where everything – including land, building costs and professional services is more expensive. Instead, I suggest you cut your teeth on an affordable area within a two-hour radius of a capital city.

Look for areas that:

  • offer promise; perhaps going through a gentrification phase
  • going through a growth phase; median prices are historically performing well
  • where the population is expanding;
  • where diverse industries support employment;
  • where private enterprises, such as large retailers or mines for example have announced expansion plans.

Extreme climatic/weather event(s)

Check if the block is in bushfire prone land and also check if the block is subject to flood related development controls imposed by the local council.

Other things to consider

There are a few other important things to keep in mind when you’re looking for a good plot to build on. Some of these include:

  • What’s being built nearby – Nobody wants to buy a plot of land only to find out a truck stop’s going in next door.
  • Privacy – nobody wants an entire apartment block staring into their bedroom window. Carefully consider what’s next door, what you’re building, and how secluded you can make it.
  • State of existing structures – planning on retaining parts of an existing building or structure? You’ll need to get it inspected to ensure it’s in good shape.
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