Navigating the minefield: avoiding building plot problems

Building plots come in all shapes and sizes, and are not always straightforward. Some locations present a challenge because of their location, shape or other factors such as the amount of dust and other pollutants that can be found in the area. You can combat some of these issues by ensuring you carry out research on the site before work begins and by using a Dust Monitor, such as those available from, to monitor the leave of dust and other pollutants in the ares, prior to and during building work. If you have spotted the location of your dreams and are keen to build a house, there are some factors you need to be aware of if you want things to run smoothly.

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In most cases you can’t just buy a plot of land and build on it, with planning permission often the first hurdle you must clear. If you are buying land that has an existing permission, make sure it has not expired and that it covers what you want to do.

You can usually get consent varied; however, this will involve an additional application and will introduce time delays. If a plot already has planning permission, this will increase its value.

Access and services

It is important that you have access to your chosen site, which should ideally be direct to a public highway. If works are needed to the highway, such as installing a lowered kerb, this has to be completed by an approved contractor.

If the site is accessed by a private driveway shared with other properties, there may be restrictions on factors such as how it is used and where you can park.

Electricity, water, waste water and gas will also need to be connected to the property. You will have to pay for this and the cost involved will vary depending on how close the property is to existing services.

Site features

You need to take into account any features of the site that can increase building costs. Is it on a steep slope, for example, or are the ground conditions poor and likely to need more complex foundation work or drainage provision? Also look at neighbouring properties, as you may need to fit in with their design.

Check the position of any trees on or close to the site. Any with a preservation order cannot be felled and you will need to plan your build around them. You should also consider their proximity to the building and any threat they may pose to the structure.