As you search your perfect patch of land, it’s important to keep in mind that it is not always as clear-cut as it seems. Location, size and shape are critical, but there are also many other factors that need to be taken into consideration. The following tips compiled by our building designer are some of the best way to save money and time.
- Solar access
Be sure to check for where the northern side is on the block. Taking the existing neighbouring buildings and the shape of the block into consideration, the future design needs to allow for as much northern sunlight as possible during the winter season. However, a site with insufficient solar access during the winter can actually be beneficial in the summer as long as it is well insulated and supplies sufficient passive cooling systems.
- Consider the size
Ask yourself the following question: “What kind of house do I want?”
The larger the block is, the more options you will have (e.g. Size of house, backyard, garage and storage space). Although you may desire a larger block, it does come with a price, therefore you may want to choose a bigger block in locations that allow for such a scale such as a rural zoned property.
- Consider the shape
The shape has a major role as it can assist or restrict your design depending on the internal layout you are going for. It is important that you speak with a professional building designer to help ensure you are able to build the home you want.
- Adjust your expectations
Prices are influenced by the house and land sizes. While most of the people are looking for the biggest land, opting for a smaller site (i.e. smaller house) can be a money saver for two reasons. First of all, as opposed to larger homes smaller homes can generate renewable solar energy more efficiently through photovoltaic solar systems (check out our Energy Rating Perth website for more information). On the other hand, designing a smaller house involves both smart storages and a clever home organisation (Read also Our design tips to maximise space) which can overcome a compact property size. The more compact your house is, the better it is in terms of energy efficiency.
- Take topography into account
Going for a cheaper block may have hidden surprises in store for you! You will need to take into consideration two major elements on site which have an important impact on the final cost. The first one is the topography/existing vegetation. Depending on how steep the land is and the current vegetation, you will need to allow addition budget for site costs (e.g. site preparation, demolition, council fees and traffic management expenses).
It is also critical to keep in mind what is happening below the surface of the block. There are different compositions and properties of soils and how much it may move. The more movement there is in the soil the more expensive the build will be to ensure the foundations are reinforced enough to support the home and restrict movement.
- Check for existing services
Ensure you know what is running under your land. You might find an easement. Easements are any pipes, cables or services and can belong to a neighbour, telephone, gas company or the like. If so, they have a right to access them and you will need to allow for clear access points (which may impact the design of you home).
- Check the regulations (Local policy and R-Codes)
If you want to know more about the R-Codes, please read also Understand the R-Codes. It is important to ensure you comply with the regulations. The main requirement is to allow setbacks from the boundary lines of your property. You can usually build walls up to the boundary with an average of height and length but it is up to each local policy. Do your research before you design?
- Bushfire prone area
Before you buy a property, be sure to check on the DFES bushfire prone area map released by the DFES commissioner to see if your site is in a bushfire prone area (a pink area on the map). If so, you will need a BAL (Bushfire Assessment Level) report before a building permit can be issued. Some BAL ratings can add to the construction costs. It would be wise to have one completed a BPAD accredited Bushfire Attack Level assessor (contact our accredited BAL assessor)
- Seek advice
Before buying a block of land, it is important to get in touch with qualified experts from the building industry (e.g. a building designer, energy assessor, engineer, bushfire assessor, building surveyor etc.) and get the right sort of help.