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What to Consider Before Buying Land

One of the most important steps before you can embark on a custom home build is finding the perfect block of land. You may already have somewhere in mind – a recent demolition where the owner has split the land in two or more allotments, an opportunity to purchase an allotment in a land estate, or perhaps your own home is old and outdated and you’ve been considering a knock-down rebuild to suit your family’s changing needs.

Before making any decisions, there are a multitude of important things to consider to ensure that the block of land is well suited to your custom home plans, your individual needs and your future way of life.

Our Acquisitions and Development Manager, Spencer has come up with a handy checklist:

1. The Site

Is the land flat or undulating?

Topography is critical as it can have a significant impact on the layout and design of your home. If the block of land is sloping, you may need to build a split-level home which could affect the functional living area, as well as usable backyard space. If the land is undulating, rocky or complex in any way, you could be looking at added cost related to excavation and retaining walls.

Are there any large trees on the block or adjoining blocks?

Some trees are protected by legislation and may require council approval before they can be removed. If the council determines a tree is protected, then it is likely a minimum separation distance between the tree and your home will be required. This can have an impact on design, particularly the building footprint and it’s positioning on the block of land.

Is street infrastructure located within the council verge (located forward of the property)?

This should be reviewed and considered as it can impact the positioning of a proposed vehicle crossover/driveway. Minimum separation distances between street infrastructure and proposed vehicle crossovers are generally required from council. As a typical example, a proposed vehicle crossover is required to be located at least 1 metre from side entry pits.

Is there an existing home on the site?

If you intend on demolishing an existing home to make way for your new home, it’s important to investigate whether there are any limitations that might affect demolition of the building, particularly if the building is heritage-listed.

2. Council Zoning

Is the property located within a residential-type zone?

There are all kinds of things that can impact the council’s development assessment process. Knowing that your property is in a residential zone means that council envisages a dwelling being developed on the site, naturally making the process a lot smoother.

There are also other policies to consider, such as minimum setback requirements – essentially how far your home needs to be positioned from the property boundary, single storey or double storey specifications – which can impact the facade design, potentially requiring any second storey to be discreetly nestled within the roof space, as well as policies around single, double or larger width garage spaces.

What is the relevant development assessment process and who has authority to grant planning approval?

You might be required to notify neighbours of your home plans which means that neighbours may be afforded an opportunity of representation to oppose or support your application. Sometimes the council has the authority to grant approval, whilst some require a Council Assessment Panel to make the final decision.

Each council differs in its policies, so it’s always best to investigate the relevant council’s policies and processes from the outset. There is a new statewide planning system, which has recently concluded public consultation, and will take effect in coming months.

Town planning, interpreting Council Development Plans and preparing & lodging complete development applications are our bread and butter at Normus Homes, so don’t hesitate to give us a call, we’d be happy to help.

3. Certificate of Title

Is there an easement, encumbrance or land management agreement that affects the property?

It’s important to consider whether there is anything significant that might affect the development potential of the property. Easements, encumbrances and land management agreements can all have implications which might affect your future home design.

There are also statutory easements that might not be illustrated on the Certificate of Title – such as an electrical power line overhanging the property which may mean minimum clearance distance requirements between the home and the power line.

That’s why it’s always important to do a site visit and identify potential obstacles.

4. The Location

Is the property on a busy road?

Choosing the right neighbourhood is perhaps the most important decision of all. Buying a block of land and building your dream home means a big personal investment, not just financially, but in your family’s future peace of mind too.

Being close to public transport can be a positive, but it can also be a negative, particularly if you consider the noise pollution created by busy roads with regular bus stops where buses are frequently stopping and starting at all hours of the day and night.

Is the property located close to high quality schools?

Whether you have kids already or are planning to start a family one day, it’s worth considering what your access to education might be like if you were to purchase a block of land in a particular location. You can find out which schools are zoned in your area on the link below: https://www.sa.gov.au/topics/education-and-learning/schools/school-zones

Are there amenities nearby?

An easy lifestyle with access to high quality amenities is one of the biggest reasons why people love where they live. Knowing that you can walk to a public reserve or playground nearby, grab a coffee or bite to eat at a local cafe or restaurant, shop for groceries, indulge in a bit of retail therapy, or feel comfort in the fact there is a GP, dentist or other medical facilities in close proximity to where you plan to live will have a big impact on your future way of life.

Whilst this certainly isn’t an all-inclusive list, and ultimately no block of land will be perfect and tick every box, it’s helpful to consider all these things when making a decision about purchasing the right block of land for your future home.

Normus Homes has been building a better life since 1991 and offers the full suite of custom home services, from planning, to design and construction so we can help you every step of the way.

Get in contact today for an obligation-free initial chat with our friendly team. The Normus Difference is all in the level of service.

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