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Depending on which part of the UK you wish to live in, finding a suitable building plot may become a challenge. If plots are scarce focus on finding the plot first, don’t even think about your house design. When you’ve found your plot then you can design the house to suit that plot. For more information on house design take a look at our Cottage Design Guide.

Most people will want to live in a specific part of the country due, perhaps, to work commitments / travel to work considerations, family ties or simply because it’s somewhere they know and like. If this is you, your task is possibly easier than if you are willing to live anywhere. Albeit your options may be limited.

Before you start your plot search, consult the Local Development Plan(s), to establish the area(s) where a proposal to build a new house is likely to be acceptable. Having done this take a look around the area(s) to check it is somewhere you would wish to live.

Having decided on your preferred area to live in you can set about finding your plot.

There are obvious places to look such as local press, local websites, property websites, estate agents, auction houses, local authority and so on. There are also dedicated national plot websites such as Plotfinder and Plotsearch. But, one of the most successful and little used ways of finding a site is to use your own initiative.

There are landowners out there who may not be looking to sell land but if the idea is put to them may consider it. Think about driving around the area and if you see a spot you like, find out who owns the land and make a direct approach. The worst that can happen is they say ‘no’!

If this seems a bit scary, think about asking the local pub landlord if they know of anyone thinking about selling land or place a ‘Plot Wanted’ ad. in the local press, shop, post office, etc. You could also produce a simple leaflet and pop it through neighbouring letterboxes.

Searching Google Maps might reveal a hidden gem which is not obvious from a drive past. Large gardens may offer a back-land site. Also look for derelict buildings or buildings of low value to pull down and replace.

A search of the local planning register may give you an advantage. Most landowners looking to sell a potential building plot will seek Outline Planning Permission (Planning In Principle, in Scotland) first, in order to maximise its market value. The application will include the owner’s (or their agent’s) contact details and a simple enquiry will establish if the plot is for sale. If it is, you are then in pole position and may be able to strike a deal before it goes on the open market.

Whatever you do, do not purchase land without planning permission. It could be an expensive gamble!

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