Finding and buying a plot of land

Last updated: 15 June 2017

If you want to build your own home, you'll need to buy a plot of land.

Once you know what budget you have and what size of house you'd like to build, you should start looking for a plot of land for sale.

There are a number of companies and websites selling plots of land. Some charge you a membership fee to view the plots they have for sale, but others let you browse for free.

Other ways to find plots for sale include:

  • checking your local Solicitors Property Centre or estate agents
  • finding local private developers with undeveloped land and asking them if they'd consider selling you a plot
  • seeing if there are any community trusts in the area which may have land available for self-builders
  • considering sites with derelict property which could be demolished or renovated. See the Buildings at Risk Register to find possible properties

Planning permission

Before you buy any plot of land, check to see if it has planning permission.

If it already has full planning permission, you might have to build a house that sticks to the design that was already approved. If you want to build a house that looks different, you'll need to make a new planning application.

Discuss the situation with a planning officer at your local council – they'll be able to tell you about any requirements.

If the plot has planning permission in principle, or no planning permission at all, it may be cheaper to buy. You'll need to get in touch with a planning officer and find out whether you're likely to get planning permission to build the type of house you want.

If you want to buy a plot that doesn't have full planning permission, ask the land owner to agree to an offer that's subject to you getting planning permission. That way if your application is rejected you don't have to buy the land.

Site appraisal

There may be problems with the land that aren't obvious right away. To make sure this isn't the case, you should get a site appraisal done. This will make sure:

  • the land isn't contaminated
  • there are no mineral-related problems caused by old mineral mines
  • the soil is in good enough condition to support a house
  • there's no major risk of flooding
  • the site isn't on an old waste tip or filled quarry
  • essential services (electricity, water and possibly drainage and gas) are available or can be made available