You’ve decided to build a new home, so what next? How you go through your journey comes down to your individual priorities, but it is often easier to choose your new home design first, and then find a block to fit it, that way you can be sure you’re going to be able to build your dream home.
As you start your search, it is important that you become familiar with a few key considerations which will help you select a block of land so that you can find the best fit.
We have collated advice from new homes consultants, to being you an essential checklist on how to choose the perfect piece of land for your new home.
Location – shortlist land estates
- Is it close to public transport and key roads?
- Is there a shopping centre or retail stores within 5 mins drive?
- Are there schools/childcare in the area (if relevant to you)?
- Is it in walking distance to parks or open space?
Position within the estate
- Is it near the entrance? You will have more traffic if you are close to the entrance of the estate
- Is it at the end of a ‘T’ intersection or in a dead-end cul-de-sac? Beware of ‘headlighting’ when a cars headlights can be a problem.
- Is it near parklands or does it have a view? They are more popular and often cost more.
- Is it on a slope? Being on the high side of a street slope will give you better views and breezes, but if the building envelope itself is on a slope this can add to the cost of the build with additional site clearing costs and foundations.
- Is it a corner block? They are good for subdivisions or dual-occ new home design (subject to planning permit).
- Is your estate in a rural location? Consider your potential BAL (Bushfire Attack Level) rating, as this can significantly affect the materials you can use in your new home design and can increase costs.
Available services to the block
- Water – Is it connected to town water, or will you have to install a tank?
- Gas – Is it connected to town supply or will you have to install a bottle?
- Electricity – How far to the nearest connection point?
- Sewerage – Is it connected to town sewerage or will you have to install a septic system?
- Telephone – How far to the nearest connection point?
Covenants (rules or restrictions in your land contract)
- Are there design convenants? Most land estates have new home design guidelines which could affect the façade design of your house, materials used, height, fencing etc…
- Check the guidelines for front landscaping. Some land estates state that front landscaping must be finished within a certain time frame. Does the developer offer a rebate for costs associated with this, if not, make sure you’ve budgeted for this?
- Some land estates stipulate that you can’t build on more than 60% of the lot, so keep this in mind.
Easements & driveway crossovers
- Are there required boundary setbacks for your new home design.
- Are there any easements that run through the block (especially on the sides)? You may not be able to build on or near the easement.
- Check where the driveway crossover is located. You want to design your house to suit the best orientation, so if you need to flip the driveway cross over to the other side, discuss this with the sales person early to see if it’s possible.
What is the orientation of the block of land?
- North-South (with north facing backyard) – Most popular orientation. Have outdoor spaces and living areas to the back of the house, bedrooms to the front.
- North-South (road frontage to the north) – Need to be reconfigured to give you living/private outdoor space towards the front of the house. You can also consider a ‘U’ shaped house that integrates a courtyard and allows north sun into the back areas of the house.
- East-West (with west facing backyard) – In summer months the western sun can be very hot, ensure you have adequate shading, and have a courtyard on the north side.
- East-West (road frontage to the west) – Consider having spare bedrooms, study or secondary living spaces to the front (because it will get hot in summer), and have outdoor spaces on the north and east side.
Block size & shape
- What shape is the block? Rectangular blocks with wide street frontage are more common for new home designs, blocks less than 12.5m wide will require a narrow lot house design, and you may not be able to fit a double garage.
- If a good sized garden is important to you, in an estate with small lots, consider a two storey home (they tend to have a smaller foot print).
- What size is the block? As a loose guide:
A 20-30 squares house will need a 450sqm block
A 30-40 squares house will need a 550sqm block
A 40-50 squares house will need a 600sqm block
- How high is the land above sea level? Consider whether there is a flooding risk from low-lying areas or waterways.
- Could there be privacy or overshadowing issues? What is surrounding the block?
- What kind of soil foundations would you be working with? Get a soil test done before you sign any contracts, to make sure there aren’t any nasty surprises that will increase the cost of footings and foundations.
- Ask people in the area that are currently building what their site costs were (especially on sloping sites). A rule of thumb in the industry is $10K for every metre of fall on the site.
Always keep resale in mind when choosing the house design in a particular area (even if it’s your ‘forever’ house). Advice from an industry insider is that you don’t want to build a 2 bedroom home with single living space in an area where the main buyers are families. Similarly you might not want to build a two storey home in an area of predominantly single storey homes. Drive around the area you are thinking of buying in and see what other people have built.
Get the new home consultant from the builder to negotiate the land price for you, as they might be able to get you a better deal or a better lot that’s not on the market to the general public at the time.