Guide to Finding and Buying Land

This guide will help you get a clear idea of the step-by-step requirements to find and buy a piece of land to construct a prefab house in the UK and Europe. Finding the right plot of land to build a prefab can be challenging to a first-time buyer since this building technique is quite new and to most the requirements are still foreign. However, the type of land required to raise a prefabricated house is similar to a traditional construction plot.

A step-by-step guide to finding and buying land:

  1. Choose a Location
  2. Identify the optimal land characteristics to build a prefab
  3. Focus on buildable plots
  4. Check if the plot is serviced
  5. Acquire legal advice
  6. Get to know the land cost and compare prices
  7. Purchase and register your new property

Following one step at a time will lead you to find the perfect plot. Where to start your property search is more of a personal choice, you can contact a local agent or browse through online property websites.

1.Choose a Location

Location is the first step to consider when you start looking for land to buy. The ideal location depends on your preferences, needs and personal situation. However, in the highly populated areas of the UK and Europe, finding a vacant piece of land might be challenging. Therefore, in most cases, the ideal building plot isn’t just our dream location but a compromise between our preferences and market availability.

Where is the best place to buy land

A good location looks different for every person, though here are some tips that will help you figure out what a good location looks like for you:

Proximity to relevant facilities: Analyse how important it is for you to be close to grocery stores, entertainment, or shopping centres. Also, if you commute to work or have kids who go to school, you might value proximity to those facilities.

Transportation: Your preferred mode of transportation should be carefully considered when choosing a location. Check if the land is nearby public transport, highways or walkways.

Neighbourhood: Identify which neighbourhoods better suit you and consider how safe the area is.

 

2.Identify the optimal land characteristics to build a prefab

The land requirements to build a prefab home are quite similar to those preferred when building a traditional home. However, given that prefab homes are meant to be built mainly off-site in a fast and affordable way, these characteristics become more significant.

The flatter the better: Sloped lands require extra work which translates into a longer and more expensive construction. A minor slope is especially important if you are planning to acquire a predesigned prefab house.

Accessible: An accessible plot eases the transportation of the materials and machinery to raise the house which usually contributes to a smoother, faster and cheaper construction. Still, when building a prefab, accessibility is key since what is delivered to the site are prefabricated sections of extensive dimensions.

Soil conditions: The conditions of the soil will determine what kind of foundations the house will need. Getting a geotechnical test can be very helpful if in doubt since hard soils are very difficult to excavate and very soft soils might need to excavate deep to find solid ground. All these extra works will raise the overall construction price.

Orientation: The orientation of the land is key to ensuring a comfortable living situation once the house is built. The ideal orientation of the land will depend on the climate conditions of the area where we are building, though the most important aspects to consider are sunlight, shade, wind and floods.

3.Focus on buildable plots

There are different types of plots in the market and not all of them are buildable. While every country organises its types of plots differently, they all have some sort of planning development where land is classified and categorised according to the kind of building that can be raised in that area.

Before purchasing land, consult with the local planning authority to verify a plot is buildable and identify any possible planning issues. Keep in mind that in order to obtain planning approval you will have to attain several regulations limiting aspects such as the usage, size and height of the building.

prefab house plot of land guide
Image courtesy of Tini: model Tini M

4.Check if the plot is serviced

A serviced plot is a parcel of land that is already connected to the basic services and utilities such as electricity, water, sewage and even roads. While looking for a piece of land to build a new prefab home, considering this fact is highly recommended. You can definitely build a prefab on a non-serviced plot, though connecting the land to the different services takes time and money, so you should be aware of it beforehand.

5.Acquire legal advice

It is always recommended to seek legal advice before purchasing the land in order to diminish the risks. An experienced lawyer will help identify if there are issues concerning the title or the property’s description; determine the need for a deed; and spot aspects as important as debts, charges, liens or embargoes.

What are the risks of buying land?

Not acquiring legal advice has the risk of buying land with severe issues such as:

Boundary disputes: Some plots aren’t clearly limited and the owners of the neighbouring properties disagree on the limits of each boundary. It is not recommended to purchase land with this type of issue since these disputes often take long to resolve.

Restrictive covenants: A plot of land with restrictive covenants might limit your freedom of building the house you want. Be sure that the land you are purchasing has no restrictive covenants or if it does, take time to identify if they will be an inconvenience to you.

Right of access problems: The legal title of the land should grant you full legal right of access to your piece of land, otherwise you might not have legal access to your property and any construction works might be denied.

What questions should I ask when buying a property?

Before moving forward with purchasing a plot of land, there are some questions you should ask that will help you identify risks:

  • Why is the property owner selling the land?
  • Are there any existing issues with the land?
  • Are there any restrictions in place that could limit any future development?
  • Are the boundaries clearly and legally defined and/or marked?
  • Is planning permission in place?
  • What are the rights of access?
  • Is the land properly connected to the basic services and utilities?
  • What is foreseen by the urban plans for the future of the neighbourhood?

6.Get to know the land cost and compare prices

The cost of land varies enormously since there are multiple aspects that affect its value. Location generally has a big influence on the purchase price. Therefore, doing some research on the average price in the area will be of great help when comparing prices and negotiating on the final sale price.

However, all the aspects discussed previously will directly affect the value:

Flat lands are generally more expensive: Plots with flat lands and good soil conditions are often more expensive. Still, these are generally worth it since the construction works will be smoother.

Buildable serviced plots often cost more: Similarly, plots with planning permission, access to services and reduced limitations are usually more demanded and therefore more expensive. Still, they are a good and safe investment.

Plots with legal issues might be cheaper: Be cautious with surprisingly low prices, there might be some legal problems related to them.

7.Purchase and register your new property

Once you have found the ideal land to build your new prefab home and are clear about the costs and conditions, it is time to purchase it. When you become the owner of the land, it is recommended to register it and get a title plan. While land registration isn’t mandatory in the UK and some European countries it might be required by the bank if you are planning to qualify for a mortgage.

Where to Search for Land

There are different ways to search for a plot of land, you can contact local estate agents, consult newspapers and magazines, or as it is more common nowadays research online. An online search will give you a general idea of what is available in your area and how much it costs.

Here are some websites to find land as a local or a foreign buyer:

Buy land in the UK

Rightmove – https://www.rightmove.co.uk
BuildStore PlotSearch – https://plotsearch.buildstore.co.uk/findingland/

Buy land in France

SeLoger construire – https://www.seloger-construire.com/projet-construction/terrain/pays/france
PAP Particuler à Particuler – https://www.pap.fr/annonce/vente-terrains

Buy land in Spain

terrenos.es – https://terrenos.es
Landex – https://www.landex.es

Buy land in Europe

Properstar – https://www.properstar.com
Tranio – https://tranio.com/europe/land/

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