Acquiring your site

1: Assessing your requirements

  • Assess the type and size of plot you will require to suit your lifestyle. For instance if you want to keep horses an acre site will not be adequate, where as an acre site may be considered to be too large and require to much maintenance by others.

  • Assess how much you can afford to spend on the plot bearing in mind you will have additional costs such as legal fees and stamp duty, not to mention the cost of building your house and it’s associated professional and planning costs
2: The search
  • Select a number of areas you would like to live in and prioritise these areas in the order of your preference. As each person or couple has different priorities and preferences we cannot advise on this, other than to say that when you are deciding, consider the location and the surrounding area, as the value of your completed house will increase or decrease dramatically in line with the location and outlook of the site.


  • Sites available for sale can generally be found:

(A) On The Internet: There are many very good websites specialising in property sales and most Auctioneers have their own websites. Many of these building plots are priced and it is possible to get a good idea of the market value and what you should expect to pay for the building plot that would best meet your requirements.

(B) In Property Supplements in National and Provincial Newspapers: Most National and Provincial Newspapers have Property Supplements and it is quiet often, that in addition to Auctioneers advertisements, private individuals do offer building plots for sale. You can also place your own small advertisement seeking a building plot in this section of the newspaper.

(C) By Word of mouth: People you know may themselves know of farmers or land owners who might be willing to sell a building site. In other words if you are seriously looking for a building plot tell everybody you know and somebody may come up trumps.

(D) In Auctioneer’s Offices: Apart from what is listed in their offices and websites, good Auctioneers tend to know their areas very well, and may well know land owners in the area you are seeking, who if approached may be willing to sell a plot of building land. Also if they know you are a serious purchaser they will keep you informed of any suitable building plots for which they may receive instructions to sell.

(E) By touring around the areas you would consider buying in, you will from time to time see Site For Sale Signs outside suitable plots. These can then be followed up

3: Assessing the site
Prior to making any offer the suitability of the site for building on should be thoroughly assessed as follows:
  • Visual Assessment:

(A) The site and adjacent surrounding area should be visited and thoroughly walked (with permission) on different days and during different weather conditions. The wetter the weather conditions the better for making your observations. On walking the site, you should take note of the following:

(i) Wet Ground: If on a dry day the ground underfoot is either damp, soggy or wet you should be concerned as this situation may have serious repercussions for your future build. Also, if it has rained check that the rainwater drains away readily.

(ii) Vegetation: Check the type of vegetation that is growing on the site as this could indicate if the ground is consistently wet.

(iii) Land Drains: Check any visible land drains on the site, as the presence of these may be an indication that the ground does not readily self drain. Also check visible land drains and outlets on the adjoining lands to ensure that these are not draining into the site.

(iv) Rivers and Streams: Check that any close by rivers and streams are well below the level of the site and do not represent a flooding hazard.

(B) The general area should be visited on a regular basis and at different times so that you get a feeling for the place, and also learn the different traffic patterns etc.
  • Research Assessment:

              (A)The site and surrounding area should be thoroughly researched as follows:


(i) Planning Office: Check with the local Planning Office what, if any, Planning Applications are being processed or Planning Permissions Granted for the area and ensure that these plans do not interfere with your own plans and that they will not adversely effect your expected lifestyle or the value of your future home.

(ii) If confidentiality permits speak to some of the local people about the history of the area, as this can reveal an abundance of useful information, such as, the level of the site was raised by land fill, or the site was originally an old car breakers yard before it was filled in, or is prone to flooding, or indeed it was always within living memory a good fertile agricultural field.
  • Ground Investigation Assessment:
The site should be the subject of a thorough Ground Investigation, which should be supervised by a suitably fully qualified engineer, in private practice with professional indemnity insurance. This procedure may be carried out simply by digging a number of trial pits, (close to but outside the likely foundation area), and the engineer forming his opinion of the suitability of the ground on a visual inspection of the excavated pits. If the trial pits show soils of differing bearing capacities he may elect to have a specialist ground investigation company to carry out further investigations.

4: Purchasing the site
When you have satisfied yourself that you have found the site of your dreams and you are aware of any and all downsides and their associated cost implications you have now to make the decision on whether to go ahead with the purchase or not. If you intend to go ahead and you are about to make an offer the following procedure should be adopted:

(1) Appoint Solicitor: If you have not already appointed a solicitor to act on your behalf now is the time to do it.

(i) Meet with your solicitor and outline your exact intentions and proposals to purchase the site and also your intentions going forward.

(ii) Get a firm quotation from him/her to complete the conveyance procedure on your behalf. If the purchase falls through due to insufficient title or other reasons check if you will be responsible for the full amount as quoted.

(iii) Prior to making your offer get his/her advice on the conditions on which your offer should be made. As a rule all offers should be made conditional on:

(a) receiving funding
(b) receiving suitable planning permission
(c) receiving proper title
(d) be subject to contract
(e) any other conditions your solicitor may advise you to include.

(2) Raise Funding: At this stage of the procedure it would have to be assumed that you would have already approached your Finance Provider and that he would have provided you with an undertaking or “heads up” that they would be in a position to provide you with the necessary funding. However in these days of uncertainty it is advisable to make a formal application for the required finances as soon as possible and also to have a plan B or even C to fall back on.
5: Professional advisors
During the Site Acquisition process you will require the services of the following Professional Advisors:
  • Solicitor: to advise on, complete and register the purchase of the site on your behalf.

  • Finance Consultant or Provider: to advise on and provide the most cost effective funding to meet your initial site purchase requirements together with your future construction costs requirements.

  • Consultant Engineer: to advise on the bearing capacities of the ground and any other site issues which would have an impact on your proposed dwelling.


To find out more on Self Building Click here


© Self Build Rates Ltd.