Buying a block of land – key considerations

Buying a block of land

It’s more than a patch of dirt – this is the land where your dream house or your investment property will be built. So, it pays to ensure the block is absolutely right for your needs. Here are some important factors to consider before buying a block of land.

Choosing the right block

Location is crucial. Consider the proximity of the block to schools and childcare facilities, public transport,  to places of work, parks and recreational facilities, shopping and entertainment and healthcare facilities.

Prior to deciding on a particular block, you should check for any flood, bushfire or cyclone risks with the local council. Such risks can impact on insurance premiums and your ability to obtain housing finance. Also, as a general rule, be mindful when purchasing blocks near extensive bushland or waterways.

view of construction siteDo your due diligence

Before you sign on the dotted line, do your research about the surrounding properties and the zoning that applies to the particular area or subdivision.

Local planning regulations should state the rules for land use on surrounding properties and which industries can legitimately operate ‘next door’. It’s important to understand what impact they may have on the property and whether it could potentially have an impact on property values and future capital growth if buying land for an investment property or have any impact on liveability if you are buying a block on which to build your home.

The orientation of your block

Do you have a particular house design in mind? It’s not normally a problem on bigger plots, but in suburban and urban areas, the width and depth of the block will determine what sort of house you can build.

While these features can make a house more spectacular, it’s worth remembering they’re likely to cost a fair bit more.

Depending on the angle of the slope and what’s built on neighboring properties, a slope can also reduce your exposure to sunlight, which in turn can affect how much light you get in living areas and your potential to harness the sun both for passive solar heating and for collecting solar power.

Stick to your budget

If buying to build, having enough money left at the end of your build to fully-finish your home will give you a lot more satisfaction than being at the end of your tether and living in a half-completed house.

As a guide, it is a good idea to reserve 15-20 percent of your building price for the finishing touches.

New house construction framingThose hidden site costs

This is likely to be the biggest hidden cost you will incur when building your home and unfortunately it has the largest variability. It will be based largely on your soil test and your contour test. The worse the soil and the larger the slope the larger the site costs.

If it’s difficult to get to the site or you have to remove lots of trees or build retaining walls, then this can also incur costs.

Talk to your builder about what your cost expectations are for the block you are looking to buy.

Type of house

Building a property is an exciting undertaking, so it’s important to ensure you’re well prepared.

The first step is ensuring your budget can cover the cost of building the home or investment property you want. You should include a buffer for incidentals and take into account that it may be more expensive to source and/or deliver materials in certain areas.

When planning your home, is it for a permanent move, are you building an investment property or are you building a ‘weekender’?

Remember,  local council areas will have different rules and regulations for building property depending on the location. Be sure to check with the local authorities to ensure your plans meet requirements.

Be aware of restrictive covenants on the title

It’s important to note a vacant block may have restrictive covenants on the title. These may impose certain conditions on the type of building you will be allowed to construct such as what facades, roofing, and colors you can choose.

Buying a block of land is an enjoyable experience, provided you do your research and get professional building opinions along the way.