The ‘Kevin McCloud’ Effect

What do you do if your ideal house is not available in the location you want?  More and more of us are deciding to buy a plot of land and build our own dream homes.

Partly attributed to the hugely popular TV programme ‘Grand Designs’ and its enthusiastically sceptical presenter Kevin McCloud, a bespoke new build is a great way to live where and how we want.  But, before you set off in search of the perfect plot there are a few things to consider. There can, and often are, a scarcity of individual plots in desirable areas and, even if a plot is available, there may be tricky restrictions on title or planning. 

One solution is to buy an existing house in your desired location, demolish it and build your own.  More and more favoured as a fast track option in popular areas of the home counties and south coast, the principle can be applied anywhere in the country.  

One solution is to buy an existing house in your desired location, demolish it and build your own. 

Houses built immediately post WWII on license are often small in comparison to their extensive, now mature grounds - an ideal candidate for such a ‘house eating’ exercise.  Yet, even when you have found your perfect spot and are thinking of bringing in the wrecking ball, you should bear in mind that the same principles still apply to buying any property in terms of employing an experienced property lawyer.

Your lawyer needs to check the title, in particular paying attention to any restrictions; the availability of rights of access for the laying of new or additional services; the planning status of the present building together with conditions of any existing planning permissions.  Detailed discussions with the Planning Officer of the Local Authority are also essential to find out whether your ideal house is likely to be treated favourably by the Planners and the engagement of a Planning Consultant with knowledge of the area can help ease this process.  If you do opt to buy a plot of land, a ground investigation survey must also be undertaken to ensure that it has not been contaminated by previous use.  The costs of remediation of any contamination can be very expensive and time consuming… enter Kevin with gloomy expression and shake of his head…

Your budget planning will, of course, also be critical to avoid heartache and headaches. Detailed discussions with your architect to prepare your budgets should cover the acquisition, demolition, remediation, building and finishing of your property.  Something often forgotten is also the necessity for a 10 Year Builder’s Warranty issued by an official provider (NHBC being the most well-known) or an Architect’s Certificate showing correct supervision and certification at various stages of the build. For any new property to be accepted by a Mortgage Lender it must have the required warranties. 

Having undertaken the extra research and negotiating potential pitfalls, ‘knock down and builds’ are becoming more popular and it is undoubtedly worth investigating as a way to live in and enjoy the homes we’ve always dreamed of.  Kevin would be so pleased. 

If you would to speak to Barbara about one of her articles, or are looking for advice on the sale or purchase of a property, please feel free to call us.