When buying land, finding the perfect patch to build your dream home can seem a daunting prospect – but it doesn’t need to be. Blocks literally come in all shapes and sizes, locations and orientations and each have their own benefits. So how do you decide where to buy or what to look for? A little foresight and planning can help you purchase the right block, for the right home, in the right location for you. Here are just some things to think about before you go searching for your perfect block of land:
Without a doubt the most important thing before buying land is to have a firm understanding of your budget and have done some research to work out what you can buy and build within the bounds of your budget. Spend some time researching the cost of land in areas that appeal to you and also the cost of building a home to include the things you need to make it more liveable and valuable both inside and outside – don’t forget things like landscaping, fencing, rainwater tanks, retaining walls and sheds.
Land before house plan
Anecdotally we’re seeing a trend towards purchasers investing in their dream house design with the spacious kitchen and large theatre room before they’ve actually found the block of land to accommodate it. While it’s helpful to factor in the cost, size and type of home you wish to build one day, land buyers are being caught out investing everything in a home package, only to find that they can’t afford the block of land to suit it. Capital growth in a property is typically driven by the land you buy (subject to the location and market trends) while a house itself is more likely to depreciate in value over time. We advise purchasers to design or choose a house plan that suits your favourite block of land in an area that is earmarked for growth – or at least in a location that you know you will love. And don’t forget – you can always add to your home as your family grows and changes, but it’s difficult to change the size of your block of land.
Location, location, location
There’s an old piece of advice many a property purchaser will have heard over time; “buy the worst house on the best street”. This advice suggests that the location of the land is more important than the house on it. While we absolutely acknowledge the importance and value of the dwelling you design and build, we also believe in the value of purchasing land in a beautiful and amenable location with a historically positive growth trend. So, before you buy land, do your homework on the location, look at the things important to you (and others – for future resale) such as parks, reserves, community facilities and public transport. Consider all the positives and negatives of the area and street. If your land is part of a new development, look into the credibility of the developer. If you are satisfied that you are buying in a quality location where you will feel safe and comfortable and the land value will likely increase with time – then you’re making a smart real estate decision.
Before buying land, having an understanding of your budget, your family’s current and future living requirements will help you to select the land size most appropriate for you now and in the future. Don’t forget to think about all the things that impact land over and above your home – like outdoor entertaining areas, yard size, how much maintenance you are prepared to undertake on your yard, vehicle access for cars, caravans and boats, pets, outbuilding size and location, rain water tanks, clotheslines and lifestyle options like a pool or tennis court. If your budget is stretched, you can always purchase a larger allotment size now that will allow you to build and expand when you’re financially ready.
Significant trees, soil type and steeply sloping blocks are some of the things you need to consider when buying a block. Our experience is that buyers in new land developments tend to fear sloping sites and this may be because many builders are designing homes that are predominantly best suited to flat allotments in the city rather than sloping sites in the country or regional areas. There is a sentiment that it may be cheaper to flatten or bench and retain the site, rather than create a stepped effect throughout the home to accommodate the natural slope of the site. If you are looking at buying land in the country or outer suburban areas you may find that the blocks do have some slope and that this slope is in fact what creates the country or hills charm of that locality. Rather than immediately flattening a block it’s worth considering how you can build on it to take advantage of the land’s natural contours and how this cost may be similar to the standard recommendation to bench and retain the site. The cost needs to be assessed on each individual case, but it is certainly worth asking the question and investigating builders who are prepared to consider that slope and built to accommodate it.
A soil report is a compulsory test to understand how ‘reactive’ the soil is, to ascertain whether there are any conditions that might damage your house due to predicted movement over time. This testing determines the type of footings or slab that can be built on your site. If the soil is unstable the footings may need to be deeper into the ground (or require a different type of foundation altogether). Footings can be a costly component of a house build so the soil quality has the potential to significantly impact the cost of the build. Sourcing this information early on can help you and your builders manage this contingency in the contract pricing.
Are there trees on the block of land that you’re interested in? Depending on their position and age, they may present a few considerations before you can start to build your dream home. Protected trees are identified by your local council as having a trunk circumference of 2m or more – and these trees are prohibited from being damaged, removed, lopped or destroyed without council approval. A good builder may be able to work with you to design a home around a significant tree. While some non-protected trees may require removal as part of the house build process, there are many benefits to retaining other existing trees (whether protected or not), for shade, ambiance and lifestyle.
Great views and well positioned homes may add significant enjoyment to living in your home as well as value to your investment over time. It is worth considering if you are happy with the view from your vacant land now, and the considering what the view may be in the future. At Newenham there are so many beautiful trees being retained throughout the site that you’re sure to have a lovely outlook and there are plenty of blocks that have gorgeous views over the creek and linear park.
Blocks in new estates and in rural or remote areas may incur additional service connection costs. Before you build, do your research to find out what services are available to connect to. For example, will you connect to a sewer line or will you need to install your own tank? What are the power supply options for electricity and gas? Will you need to contribute to the cost of any capital works to establish supply? What connection charges will you be up for?
Is your dream to build a family home walking distance from the nearest park, or close by to the local shops, restaurants and schools? Perhaps you’re a city-worker who needs to be close to park’n’ride public transport services and infrastructure like Freeways. Think carefully about the things that are important to you and the facilities you might need close by in the future when you’re looking for your perfect patch of paradise.
Buying land in a new development has a range of benefits. At Newenham, our Sales and Information Centre is housed in a beautifully restored cottage and we have a talented design team to help you design and build your dream home. You can choose from a wide range of block sizes and orientations, and enjoy the benefits of being surrounded by nature, parks, walking trails and even local shops and markets, all designed to enrich the health and wellbeing of our residents.
Credibility of the developer
If you’re buying in a new development, it’s important to know what you’re getting into. Spend some time researching their past projects and find out what their plans are for the development. Consider the things important to you, whether that be nature, walking trails, community facilities, footpaths, lighting or play equipment. Look into the quality of the builders that the developer is working with and make sure they have a good track record. A little bit of research can go a long way to making a smart investment decision for you and your loved ones.
We offer a range of block sizes and street frontages at Newenham with varying benefits and orientations to help you find the perfect block for your needs. Blocks range in size from 600sqm to 2,385sqm but there are also precincts dedicated to smaller courtyard homes for people who seek a low maintenance lifestyle.
For more information or to book a site tour, please contact our sales team on 8210 7660 or visit our beautifully restored Sales & Information Centre, open every day from 12 – 5pm at 164 Flaxley Road, Mount Barker. Come and see for yourself why you’ll love living at Newenham.