When it comes to finding the right block of land, there are some fundamental factors which can significantly affect the house you want to build at the budget you want adhere to. Here at Brookmoore we do all the research for you. But for those that want a more hands on approach - here are some things to look for when you are trying to find that perfect lot.
A part from the obvious location choices that you will normally tick off for when searching for the right block:
Lot size and shape
Proximity to shops, transport, schools, etc
There is a more important set of check boxes you will need to tick before you jump on a block of land. As the following factors can greatly impact the end price of your house and land package.
Slope or Fall
One of the most significant costs of a new build is the siteworks. Often clients will come to us with a block of land that seems really cheap and then we find the reason that it's cheap, is because they need to spend an extra $20-30k on siteworks before they even lay the foundations of their new home.
In an ideal world we want to build on a flat block of land. But this is not always the case and therefore we (the builders) need to cut and fill the block to match the design of the house.
If the fall of the block runs downhill from the street then you may need to design a house that sits on poles or step down as you go. If the slope of the block runs uphill from the street then you may need to cut into the land or design a split level home.
The house will need to be designed to fit the block and often that will mean cutting the block to suit the house too.
An easy rule of thumb to remember is, the more slope, the more cost. For example, 3 metres of fall from front to back can add an extra $30k to your build.
Two other parts that come into play when slope is involved in a build, is the retaining and drainage. Often when there is slope or fall, there will be some form of retaining. Our engineers will design a structural sitework plan to ensure the house is built to last a lifetime and will never move. When designing the plan they will also needs to factor in drainage from water run off from other blocks and your own. You need to ensure the runoff from your block won't flood the neighbours yard and you also want to be sure the neighbours won't affect yours. You may need to install extra storm water drains to account for such runoff. Both retaining and drainage can add significant costs to that block.
Ideally if you are looking for a cost effective build then avoid slope whenever possible.
When looking to build in a brand new estate, most developers will have a design guideline to follow. The idea of a covenant is to ensure all new home maintain a certain standard that the developer sets and it also makes sure no one builds an eyesore that the rest of the community hate. Most covenants are fairly similar in nature, however, it pays to do a thorough check to ensure there are no major requirements that will impact what you want to build.
For example, you may have your heart set on a 4 bedroom single storey home, but then find out that you are only allowed to build a double storey house on the block you are looking at. These restrictions can affect what you want to build and can in-turn affect your budget.
What lies beneath the surface can have a major impact on how the house is engineered and what it will cost. The site you are looking at might look level and the grass may be green. But you might be sitting on problem soil and it may contain rock. This will mean you (really the builder) will need to manufacture piers beneath the slab to ensure the house doesn't shift from it's original location.
The soil factor to a build is often the most unknown as developers generally won't provide a soil test to prospective buyers and the class can change from one block to the neighbouring block. Most builders will allow for "M class" soil in their contract, which is relatively good. However if they hit rock or if they find out the class is a P site. You could be up for more costs.
The way to mitigate this risk is to get a soil test done on the block prior to settlement, so you know exactly what you're in for. Or you can add an extra allowance to the build contract to account for worse soil and or piers.
Easements are the most commonly known hindrance for construction on a block. Often you will find a disclosure plan on a block will show an easement which council has set out that you will not be able to build over. Normally these will be due to underlying sewerage or gas pipes which they need access to and don't want damaged.
If you have an easement running across the middle of the block then it will be very difficult to build around it - and even harder, if not impossible to build over it. You will need to speak to your builder (us) in regards to easements and if they may impact your prospective build.
This also a good time to bring up that it is vital to get every piece of information possible on a block of land when considering it for your new home. The block may look great from above, but it's what's lying underneath that may come back to bite you.
Ok so the block looks great, the soil is reasonable, there's no easements. Now we need to look at factors around the block that may affect the house. The two most obvious of these are BAL and Acoustics.
BAL = Bushfire Attack Level
It sounds a lot worse than what it is. Basically if your block is surrounded by large trees and bushes then there's a good chance you will need to "fireproof" your home to account for a worse case scenario event. This will mean the build will need to factor in a lot more costly products into the house to meet these requirements - often doors windows & external materials. The level of the required fireproofing will be determined by a Bushfire Management Plan or BAL report.
Most new developments will provide an acoustic report with a block of land. This report assesses the different noise categories in the area to see if your house will need to add soundproofing to meet the National standard. Some factors that may impact an acoustic report are major roadways, train lines and flight paths. Often this will result in adding soundproof windows to the house.
One of the final check points that may impact your build is the connection of services to the block. In most new developments this is a requirement from council that all blocks must have simple access to power, sewer and storm water. So normally they are ready to go and not an issue. However, in some small infill subdivisions this may not be the case (also often in rural areas). If the services aren't readily available for the builder. There may be extra costs involved to connect these services to your new house.
At the end of the day there are a lot more things to look at when considering a block of land to build on. In no way do we want to alarm you. Because at the end of the day knowledge is power.
The easiest way to mitigate all of these risks is to get your builder (us) to do a site inspection of the block and all information prior to you making any commitment to purchasing. We will do this free of charge and obligation free. The last thing we want to see is a client getting their heart set on a block, a house, a budget and then finding out a nasty surprise at the end.
Best to do all your checks prior so there are no hidden costs and you can tackle that project head on with confidence.
We are here waiting to help you!
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