Choosing a site
Some clients come to us with their heart set on a particular design and then shop for a suitable block. Other clients have found a block they love and then have to come up with a design that suits it and their needs.
Neither is the ‘right’ way, it really depends on the end result you are after. For example, if you want a split level or elevated design then you will be looking for a sloping block, perhaps with views you can capture with a particular design.
Or you might need the easy access offered by a flat or gently sloping block. Or a large level backyard for the kids. It is about isolating what matters most to you as far as location, lifestyle and design.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when shopping for a block of land for your dream home.
Most people have a fair idea of where they wouldd like to build their new home, and for many it is the top consideration. Getting it right can make your new home everything you dreamed of, but getting it wrong could see you contemplating a move much sooner than anticipated.
Even if you have found a suburb that you love, the search can be less than straightforward. You might have your heart set on an area but be unable to to find suitable land. Many of the most desirable coastal locations, for example, present challenges for construction and that can add considerably to the cost of your build. If you want that stunning water view the extra cost and inconvenience might be worth it. But if the budget is tight, finding a more suitable block in a nearby suburb might save you money and give you the home and lifestyle you are after.
Convenience and Comfort.
Think about your current lifestyle, and also any anticipated changes down the track. Wherever you build you have to take various convenience factors into consideration. Things like distance to work, what is the traffic like, public transport options. Proximity to schools, supermarkets, service stations and other amenities can also be important, as is the location of friends and family. An easy way to think about convenience is to assess how many places and services are accessible by foot (there is even a website to help you https://www.walkscore.com) and how many are accessible by a quick drive, say 10 minutes.
Comfort is closely related to your ‘tastes’. Do you love drifting off to sleep to the roar of the ocean, or will it have you wide awake for hours? Do you enjoy a country drive to get anywhere or prefer amenities on your doorstep? Does traffic noise disturb you? Trains? Do you need space around you or are you okay in more built up areas? A great way to think about the comforts necessary for your building block is to make a list of the things you absolutely need (or need to avoid) to be comfortable living in your new home. This will provide a great check list when you start hunting.
It is important to get a feel for a neighbourhood. This goes beyond studying the crime statistics for the area. Walking around the neighbourhood can often give you an indication of any safety issues. Are there people about? Are children out playing? Go for a twilight stroll and see what sort of vibe you get. You can also keep a look out for potential risks to property. Are there waterways that might be prone to flooding? Is there surrounding bushland that could be a fire risk? Is the area subject to high winds? Some of these issues can be addressed to an extent in the design and building processes but should be taken into consideration when choosing a block.
The safety of children is another concern – are there busy roads or dangerous traffic, or open waterways? Talking to residents is a great way to gather information quickly that will be a huge help in your decision making.
Before purchasing make sure you know what utilities are in place. Newly releases or rural blocks aren’t always fully serviced and this can add to your costs. Established blocks are usually fully serviced, but you should find out what power and communication options are in place so that you are prepared.
Some areas have classifications concerning flood levels, bush fires or protected areas which can impact on your design choices. Check with council to make sure the zoning of the block allows you to build the home you want. Also check for any encumbrances such as a neighbour having a right of access through your block, or easements, drainage or sewerage lines, as these can all affect where you position your home. Covenants involve any restrictions on materials, colours, styles or building heights and are in place in some areas.
Type of Block.
Typically, a good quality level block will cost a little more. You can often save some money on a less desirable block but you usually find that construction costs are higher, so the initial saving might not be worthwhile. But you often get a more dramatic result with a less desirable block as they can present a great opportunity for creating a unique and beautiful home. A good designer or architect will ensure your block is used to its full potential, and a quality builder can anticipate any problems and work with you to keep costs and construction time down.
Orientation and Soil Type.
Orientation refers to the direction your block faces. Ideally you want a block that gets adequate sunlight throughout the day, with enough space to position your home to maximise a northern aspect, some protection from strong winds and good drainage.
Orientation can often work in tandem with soil type to create issues. For example, not enough sun can lead to damp conditions exacerbating clay soils, and being exposed to high winds can create erosion and instability in sandy soils.
The best way to anticipate any soil issues is to organise a soil test which will accurately determine the stability of the block and the type of foundations required. Light, sandy soils can require reinforcement while rocky soils or thick clay can mean extra excavation. Both would result in extra costs and it is best to know this before commencing construction.