We are looking at some of the factors to consider when choosing a block of land to build on. Click here to read Part 1.
In addition to the block’s physical characteristics, there are several other factors to consider, including:
- Neighbourhood – When buying a home, people are frequently looking to spend between the next 10 to 40 years of their life at that address. You need to ask yourself, is this where I want to live? As they say in the great Australian movie, The Castle – consider the vibe and how’s the serenity? Some suburbs feel right and some others don’t. Trust your instincts. You should also take into account how far away the block is away from your current address. Consider whether you and your children will become estranged by distance from your current friends and relatives or are you moving only a few kilometres away. You should always consider potential re-sale value in the future.
- Nearby facilities – You should also consider nearby schools, local shops and regional shopping centres, doctors and hospitals, recreation, swimming centres, entertainment and transport. Questions to ask include will the kids be changing schools, is it further to get to work, will I get to work using the same method of transport, where can I buy milk and bread? Sounds simple, but many people make a giant leap without thinking through first. If looking to build in new estates, check out what facilities will be coming soon. Also imagine what that suburb will look like in 5 years and whether you would still be looking to live there.
- What lies below – The soil conditions below your block of land play a huge part in what home design you will be able to build and its cost. As a general rule of thumb, it is very expensive to excavate in rock. However, light and sandy soils often require reinforcement and extra costs can often be incurred due to extra piering to the foundations of the house. Additional excavation and tipping costs may be incurred in removing certain thick clays from your block (as these are often not stable to build on). It might then be necessary to import suitable soil to maintain proposed levels at additional cost. Worse still, you need to know whether your block has been exposed to soil contamination or has artefacts that will prevent construction, or is subject to ground water.
- Block Services – You need to consider where connections to services (such as water, sewer, electricity, phone) are located. Some could be located on your block and be easements (which can restrict what can be built over and adjacent to them), while others may be located on the other side of the street, which could lead to additional connection costs.
- Conditions and fine print – When buying a block of land, you should obtain the advice of a solicitor or licenced conveyancer. Indeed, you should seek their advice before committing to buy. A good solicitor or conveyancer should be able to tell you about the zoning of your proposed block, any restrictions on what you can do and where and what you can build, developer requirements, such as certain driveways, fencing, landscaping requirements. A solicitor or conveyancer should check the Certificate of Title for the land as well as indicate people from Council or other relevant bodies and authorities you need to talk with to make sure that you can do what you want. The person selling you the block of land may not tell you about any problems, but they are often forced to disclose certain information in the fine print.
- Bushfire requirements – Given many new estates are located near or adjacent to bush land, you need to consider any additional requirements that may be imposed on your proposed home due to this. It is necessary to determine a ‘Bushfire Attack Level’ for new homes near bush land. As a general rule, the closer your home is to bush land, the greater the chance that additional requirements will be imposed on the type of construction to your home. These can include having to use certain materials that are more capable of withstanding fire. The problem is, these can be very expensive as well as not necessarily be the look that you are after.
- Unregistered land – Many developers of new estates are selling blocks of land that are not registered (as they still need to be subdivided etc). You are not allowed to build until the land is registered. There are also often delays with planning requirements (ie Council approvals) until the land is registered. Whilst this normally eventually happens, if you buy the wrong block, you could be forced to wait up to 18 months before you can start construction. You may have to pay extra rent during this waiting period.
Talk to a builder first. Whilst it is exciting to go off and buy a block of land, you do not have to do it alone and nor should you. Speak with a reputable home builder (like Beechwood Homes!) about the block you are considering buying. Because of our many years experience, we can often point out some of the potential pitfalls in a certain block or estate before you have made any commitment. Remember, buying a block of land and building a home upon it is likely to be the largest financial investment you will make in your lifetime. Ask questions, research, double check and trust your instincts. It might sound attractive that a developer is offering a $10,000 discount on a block of land, but if your extra site costs, BASIX and bushfire requirements significantly exceed this (and can often do so), you might not be getting the bargain you thought you were.