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How to choose a block of land

Choosing your land can be almost as hard as choosing your home design – and a lot less fun! Let’s take a look at some of the considerations, to hopefully make the process a little simpler.

The kind of land you buy can make a big difference to the overall cost of building your home. While it’s true that the better blocks will be more expensive, it’s equally true that building on a cheaper block may cost you much more than the money you saved on the land.

Also consider the costs (both financial and in time) of travelling to work, school and other facilities when thinking about your chosen area. You may end up outside the catchment area for your preferred school if you move a large distance. Take advantage of online tools to do a little research in the area you are looking at. The real estate website Domain shows school catchment areas on the map when using their search tools.

It goes without saying that it’s best to buy a registered block of land, but with land at a premium you may want to secure an unregistered block, or a block subject to an unregistered plan of subdivision (aka ‘off the plan’). Get your solicitor to look over the contract carefully before you sign: usually there will be a very long settlement, and you won’t know what you can do with the land until it is registered and you have the planning permission (Cert. 149). It’s a risk.

Site costs
Whether you buy registered or unregistered, there are some common features that can drive up your site costs. These include very uneven or sloping land, trees, rocks and scrub that will need clearing, difficult access or lack of services. Sorting these out can not only be expensive, it can also delay your build, especially if you need council permission to remove trees, or need to wait for service providers to fit you into their schedules. You can spend a long time making loan repayments on an empty block!

Planning permission
You’ll also need to be aware of the conditions in the land contract. Check the zoning (Section 149) certificate is current – council regulations change often, and a change in zoning could mean that you can’t build at all. Some developers also have design guidelines for their estates that will restrict some of the aesthetic elements of your property and landscaping – check these before you buy.

Extra costs
Being near the bush might be attractive, but if your house will be within 100m of bushland. It will need to have a Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) assessment made before you can be given a building permit. The assessment can dictate material and design changes that will always cost more – even the lowest BAL rating will raise your costs by at least $5,000.

And then there are easements. Statutory easements, usually for drainage, power or telephone connections, need to be kept clear. You should also check for rights of way, and if you build close to an electrical box there will also be additional costs.

Do your homework
All in all, it is well worth doing your homework on a block before you commit to it, and to get as much certainty in terms of what you can build, the availability of services and council permissions before you speak to your builder. Make full use of your conveyancer – they should be able to help you to check that your block is not going to cause you (or your builder) trouble. And finally, get everything in writing – especially when you deal with council, so that there are no misunderstandings!

Get the right advice
If you’d like some expert advice on choosing land in Western Sydney – you’re in the right place! Give us a call on 1300 100 922 and we’ll be happy to answer your questions. Alternatively, use our contact form and we’ll be in touch.