Finding a Site
By Meg Escott
Finding a site can take place at different stages in your building project.
Some of you will already have found your site / lot / plot, in which case you can move onto the other topics about getting to know your site.
For those of you who need to find a site, let's look into how to go about it.
What you need to know before finding a site
In order to find a site you need to know what you're looking for. Here are five things to have in place before you start your residential site search.
1 - Your Design Brief
It's a good idea to have done your design brief, or at least done some thinking about what you want to build.
Having said that, if you want to build in a location where land or sites are in short supply, you may need to be more flexible about what you build, and let the site that you find drive the design of your home.
What comes first - your design or finding a site?
It's really important to have found your site before your design phase
starts, that way your design (or the house plan you buy) can take into
account the orientation, local climate conditions, slopes and any other
site features or constraints.
You’ll get the best outcome when your home is designed for the site it’s going to be built on.
2 - Learn about site analysis
Before you start finding a site, be sure to learn about how to analyse a site. That way you can make an informed judgement about the sites that are available to you.
In particular make sure you know about site orientation and site zoning.
3 - Get your design professional on board
If you’re planning to work with a design professional, get them on board as you begin your search so that you can benefit from their expertise as you make a decision on which site you’ll buy.
While design professionals won't usually find a site for you as part of their services, getting them on board early to get involved in searching for a site helps build their relationship with you and your project.
4 - Finance
Have a plan for how you’ll finance your site so that you can move quickly to secure your site if necessary.
Finding your land
Here are some tips on how to go about finding your site.
- Talk to real estate agents. As well as letting them know you want to buy land, ask them a few questions so that you can get an understanding of the market for land.
- Talk to local planning officers.
- Talk to architects, design professionals and builders and let them know what you're looking for.
- Call developers to see if have any land available. Some developers may
only sell you land along with a home that they build on it. Others may
be amenable to sell you the land for you to build your own home.
- Talk to locals - try the local church, coffee shop, library, shop owners, bar. You never know what you might find out.
- Keep your eye on the local press.
- Take a look at online databases (eg Lands of America, Land and Farm, Land Century, Land Watch, Loop Net, Lot Network)
- Try government land listings (Disposal, Real Estate Sales)
Finding a site when land is in short supply
In some locations, finding your site might present quite a challenge. Here are a few tips for searching in a more proactive way.
- Physically drive, walk or cycle around the location that you’re
targeting. Keep your eyes open for any possibilities. Don't be afraid to
knock on doors to find out more.
- Consider posting a note through any doors of homes that you like and would consider remodeling or tearing down.
- Look at Google maps. Look carefully for any gaps that might present a possibility.
- Don’t forget to consider knock down and rebuild opportunities.
- Don’t overlook small or unusually shaped sites. These sites will be less expensive and you can use clever design to overcome the challenges of unusual sites.
- If you find a site that you're interested in, you can find out who owns it at a very low cost through services such as US Realty Records.
- Be open to possibilities – tell people that you want to build a home in
the area and give them a rough idea of size or budget and leave it at
that. It’s better to be told about everything and be given a chance to
think about the possibilities than to miss out on something.
- And lastly, be ready to buy. Get your finances in order so that you can act quickly when your find your site.
More about your site