Read how other plot-hunters successfully found land through PlotSearch
BuildStory: Mr and Mrs Thorne
Rick and his wife Hefina were looking into the possibility of purchasing a property with a view to lease, as current house prices made it hard to find somewhere which met their needs for the budget they had available.
It was at this point the Thornes decided to build their own home. What followed was a lot of research through self build magazines and DIY and renovation television programmes. The first thing the Thornes had to do was to find somewhere they could build. They saw plots advertised in magazines; however the detail on some was fairly sketchy.
They then turned to the Internet and found BuildStore. They immediately subscribed to PlotSearch and chose to concentrate their search in the areas of Shropshire, Cheshire and Wrexham. After some time they changed Cheshire to Flintshire as Cheshire was proving too expensive.
They had at least 10 plots on their list in the Wrexham area but as soon as they saw the plot in Ponciau they had decided that this was the spot for them. The plot offered quite a rural location near to Wrexham town centre and was only a 20 minute drive from Chester. The plot was exactly what the Thornes wanted and they could easily imagine their dream home on the plot.
They made a quick phone call to the estate agent for the full asking price which was accepted. The Thornes were ecstatic and immediately found a solicitor to deal with the legal side of acquiring the plot.
The Thornes have now been granted building regulations approval and are sorting out contractors for the build.
BuildStory: Mr and Mrs Yarram
When Mike Yarram’s boss built his own house, both Mike and his wife Maureen were intrigued and excited at the possibility of playing a part in the design and building of their own home.
They subscribed to Build It magazine and it was through Build It that they learnt of PlotSearch, the leading land finding service. They knew from others that finding land was the hardest part of self build but that PlotSearch’s unique online service would help. PlotSearch has over 8,000 plots, renovation and conversion opportunities at any one time and makes regular contact with over 11,000 sources of land. PlotSearch also checks the accuracy of its information on a five day cycle and so Mike and Maureen knew that the plots that they wanted to view would not be sold before they got to them.
Their initial search was in Cambridge and Northamptonshire, but through PlotSearch they found an attractive plot just to the north in Lincolnshire. They viewed the plot and were further encouraged when they attended one of the Potton Homes Open Days where they were introduced to a local builder who could help them with their plot. The house is now nearing completion and the Yarrams are delighted with how smoothly the whole project has gone.
BuildStory: Ms Stewart
"I found my plot in PlotSearch. Location, location, location were my thoughts and I 've found an excellent plot in Lincolnshire. It is serviced and just what I want. I'm building a Potton bungalow."
"Being in a position to move to practically any area of the country for the right building plot presented me with the problem of how to search out land from a distance. PlotSearch provided the ideal solution enabling me to make a selection of possibles before going out on "day trips". I searched for nearly two years before finding the plot and believe it would have been more difficult if not impossible without PlotSearch. I would certainly recommend PlotSearch to anyone searching for land."
BuildStory: Mr Greenwood
Malcolm Greenwood decided on his project for various reasons. He was interested in the idea of developing a property to his own unique design, whilst saving money in the process; Greenwood calculated around a 30% saving using this method, in comparison to the cost of what a similar property from a large building company would be.
The first steps Mr Greenwood took towards this project were to visit the PlotSearch website and his local estate agents for land that was suitable, and for land already with planning permission consent.
In the end, Mr Greenwood found his plot on the PlotSearch website, and then proceeded to go through the recognised estate agent. He found the planning process to be quite long and intensive, but also exciting. The plot itself was covered in trees, but had no tree preservation order (TPO) against it. It is situated in someone else's own large garden, and Mr Greenwood is focusing on the development of a former bungalow located there.
Malcolm says that the highlight of the project was agreeing the design with his wife, and the greatest difficulty was the extensive choice - there is too much!
The Greenwoods have decided upon having a project manager to manage their build. The project manager's job will be to draw up the plans and oversee each stage of the development. Mr Greenwood helped with the clearance of the trees on his land in order to save some money. He adds that two tree clearers wanted anything from £2000 to £3500 to do this themselves - a joke in Mr Greenwood's eyes.
Mr Greenwood owns his own house, but has taken a mortgage out on the land. When asked if he has stuck to his budget he retorts, "Does anyone!" The Greenwoods are currently stuck at the drawing plans stage. They are waiting to sell their current property before actually beginning the build. So far, the process has taken them 12 weeks to go through their solicitors and finalise the purchase of their land; there has been conflict concerning who owns the shooting rights on the land!
Advice which Mr Greenwood would offer to other self builders is to make sure that you have some idea of the cost to build per square foot, and to also get quotes from several builders. He also adds that it is important to remember that most things are VAT free on a new build.
The Greenwoods would sum up their experience so far as "so far so good" - they are lucky enough to have the added benefit of experience on their side as they have actually carried out a project similar to do this around 17 years ago, and so were able to expect many of the twists and turns that have come their way.
BuildStory: Ms Joyner
Sarah Joyner decided to self build in order to build her home according to her own specifications. She began by looking on the internet for plots of land and finance deals which would suit her. In the end, Sarah found her plot through PlotSearch, which is situated in Petworth, West Sussex.
Sarah financed her project through a self certification, Accelerator mortgage, through Amber Homeloans. She managed the whole "money" side of things through carefully keeping track of everything with the help of a good diary. In the end, Sarah did go slightly over budget, but was still reasonably happy as she felt that she was still well within her contingency budget.
Sarah tells of how her plot contains brickwork corbelling, and other interesting brick features. She says that the highlights of her project included access to advance payment, along with seeing her home when it was finished, and actually building her home herself. Luckily, there were no particular difficulties throughout Sarah's project, only the usual "general building obstacles".
Sarah managed the build herself, and felt that everything went well. She is in fact a builder, so did do some of the work herself. Although Sarah made no real schedule to stick to, she and her team were working full time, so the "schedule" was to just do the job as organised as possible. This was achieved, and the build was finished in good time; the whole process took six and half months to complete.
Advice which Sarah would offer to other self builders in her position would be to yes, make changes to any drawings, but, once you have actually began, always stick to your written plan. Also, Sarah recommends that you do not try to save money by cheap labour - pay good money for good trades.
To sum up her overall experience, Sarah says that, thanks to BuildStore, she felt the project ran smoothly, and generally found the whole event to be quite exciting, although quite hard work. It went so well, in fact, that Sarah says she would like do another project soon - although not before having a holiday first!