Choosing a Block of Land

Choosing a Block of Land

Building blocks usually cost more than the building itself, choosing the right building block is equally as important as choosing the right builder.

Because of our experience in dealing with all types of building sites over many years, the simple fact is that some blocks make for better and easier building than others, saving the consumer several thousands of dollars in unforeseen costs and not eroding the building budget.

Whether choosing a block in a new housing estate or one in an older area, here are the four top tips that apply to all block types:

 

1. Location

The suburb, neighbourhood or street are always important and based on the family’s current and future needs, should always be the first consideration. Personal preferences for lifestyle, family and work commitments will often dictate the most suitable location.

2. Orientation

The direction the block faces will directly affect the way the home is designed, the location of the living areas and the general ‘feel’ of the home.

Ideally the best orientation for passive solar design, maximum comfort and energy efficiency is to have the northern side on the longest boundary or to the rear of the block. This lets you take advantage of natural light and means you’ll have more cost effective ongoing running costs in the home.

The orientation may be a secondary consideration only if the block takes in some form of views. The design will take into account those views but should never totally ignore the northerly aspect.

Western exposure needs to be carefully considered – rooms along the western side will be hard to keep cool on hot summer days. Blocks with western views generally cost less than north and eastern views – this is because of the difficulties involved.

North facing blocks pose a challenge as the rear of the home, the southern side, will always be the darkest and coldest part of the house in the winter and inevitably some rooms must be located at the back restricting you with fewer options for natural light.

3. Contours

Any falls or rise on the block will impact on the design and overall building costs, sometimes adding considerable dollars and detracting from the useable area of the site.

Any slope on the site must be addressed by design and the severity of the slope, either up or down from front to back (or side to side) must be retained in some way to create a level building area for the home and for the remaining outdoor areas.

Equal cut and fill is a site levelling method used 99% of the time.

Adding fill to a site to raise the level is too costly to be practical in most cases. Stump homes are sometimes the best solution to a steep site, but if not necessary will always cost more than the equal size slab home.

Severe slopes impact greatly on the overall cost of getting the building out of the ground and should always be considered and factored into building budgets over and above the cost of building the home.

4. Width, Depth and Size

Smaller blocks mean less garden and low maintenance outdoor areas and can offer a great lifestyle choice for some. Builders and designers can create solutions for most lot types but consideration should be given to the impact on home design for narrow or shallow blocks.

This can lead to potential challenges with setbacks, site access and site coverage which can be compounded if the site slopes in any way.

All of this can be overcome with clever design and experienced builders and sales consultants can offer advice and solutions for the most difficult sites before you make the final purchasing decision.

Before you buy

Most blocks in new subdivisions and estates come fully serviced, retained and ready to build on and make for great building sites.

Individual blocks in older areas may have a history and need a bit more homework. Although they too make for good building sites here are 16 of the most important things to know before you buy:

  1. Always check that any existing retaining walls have been certified by an engineer.
  2. Check if there is a sewer connection point provided for the block.
  3. Check if there is a water connection point and if a meter is required and/or installed.
  4. Check electrical connection points; some battle axe blocks require long lead-in for both power and water; some larger acreage blocks require a power pole.
  5. Check whether a phone connection has been provided.
  6. Confirm the type of water service (trickle feed, full town pressure or none) and the sewer service (town sewer, CED tank sewer or none).
  7. Check where the sewer line is located and whether it will impact on where you can build on the block or install a future pool.
  8. Check the condition of existing fences and any impact of neighbouring trees and structures.
  9. Has the newly created site had a pool, bore or dam filled in and has it been sufficiently compacted?
  10. Have any large trees or vegetation been removed and has the hole been filled and compacted properly.
  11. Has any rubble been left on site or buried.
  12. Check the zoning of the block with the local council to identify any potential design restrictions.
  13. Ask the vendor for a recent contour survey from a licensed surveyor. If they can’t provide one, your builder will arrange one on your behalf.
  14. Check if there is a designated building envelope. This is the area that all buildings must fall within.
  15. Tanks (if required) – check with covenants (if any) or council as to capacity and type.
  16. Check with the local council for any specific overlays – there are often council requirements and limitations in regard to conservation, fire hazards, flood hazards and noise mitigation.

 

Seek advice from your builder before you buy. Stroud Homes offers a Free Site Evaluation. They can guide you and offer practical design and building solutions for most blocks.

This will give you and your builder valuable information up front and potentially save a lot of time, money and frustration in the long run.

This will also allow you to fully assess the block and set a realistic budget with your builder. Often the attraction of a bargain price for a block can be quickly eroded by the extra cost of building a home on a nasty site. They are usually cheaper for a reason.

For more information, please contact the Stroud Northern Rivers team on 1300 699 392 or email: [email protected]