Finding and Buying Land For Your Self Build Home
15th October 2019
Finding a suitable plot to build your house in Caithness should be relatively simple! When you've found your plot then you can design the house to suit that plot. For more information on house design take a look at the Thermohaus Design Guide
Most people will want to live in a specific part of the county due, perhaps, to work commitments / travel to work considerations, family ties or simply because it's somewhere they know and like. If this is you, your task is maybe slightly more difficult.
Before you start your plot search, consult the Local Development Plan , to establish the area(s) where a proposal to build a new house is likely to be acceptable. Having done this take a look around the area(s) to check it is somewhere you would wish to live.
Having decided on your preferred area to live you can set about finding your plot.
The obvious place to start looking is here on www.caithness-business.co.uk Following this you could check the local press, estate agents and solicitors. But, one of the most successful and little used ways of finding a site is to use your own initiative.
There are landowners out there who may not be looking to sell land but if the idea is put to them may consider it. Think about driving around the area and if you see a spot you like, find out who owns the land and make a direct approach. The worst that can happen is they say ‘no'!
If this seems a bit scary, think about asking the local pub landlord if they know of anyone thinking about selling land or place a ‘Plot Wanted' ad. in the local press, shop, post office, etc. You could also produce a simple leaflet and pop it through neighbouring letterboxes.
Searching Google Maps might reveal a hidden gem which is not obvious from a drive past. Large gardens may offer a back-land site. Also, look for derelict buildings or buildings of low value to pull down and replace.
A search of the local planning register may give you an advantage. Most landowners looking to sell a potential building plot will seek Planning In Principle first, in order to maximise its market value. The application will include the owner's (or their agent's) contact details and a simple enquiry will establish if the plot is for sale. If it is, you are then in pole position and may be able to strike a deal before it goes on the open market.
Whatever you do, do not purchase land without planning permission. It could be an expensive gamble!
Before offering to buy a plot you are advised to appoint a local surveyor to undertake a comprehensive assessment - see the Thermohaus Site Assessment Checklist - to establish its suitability for your purposes.
Having found a plot and agreed the price you need to instruct a solicitor to act on your behalf to submit a suitable offer, subject to planning permission, to the vendor's solicitor. Do not be tempted to seek cheaper options. It is important you have an independent advisor who is not only expert in the relevant legislation but also bound to protect your best interests. NB If moving to Caithness from outwith Scotland you need to know Scotland has a different legal system than the rest of the UK and you have to engage a Scottish solicitor.
Plots are often offered with Planning In Principle, but this only establishes the principle and will likely impose certain conditions. You still need to seek full (detailed) planning permission for the siting, design and servicing of the actual house you wish to build.
If the land is part of a larger holding you need to ensure you get a title plan showing the land in relationship to surrounding landmarks and boundary positions / dimensions. This is particularly important where there are no fences or other clear boundary features such as hedges and ditches.
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