Securing your self-build plot can be about striking it lucky, but it can also be about reaching far and wide, using many different routes to find your perfect and affordable self-build plot. Before even thinking about finding a plot you need to think about location, budget and the amount of land you'll need for your home.
Once you've done this, the fun begins with so many potential plots of land. Local authorities, other self-builders, auctions, private sellers, specialist land finding agents and developers, community housing associations and specialist databases to name a few.
There’s no denying there’s a real appetite for self-building with research from the National Custom & Self-Build Association showing that a third in all UK adults are interested in self-building. That’s 9% of people saying that they are likely to build their own home in the future – this compares to around 5% of new homes currently being built as custom and self-build annually.
Your self-build plot is usually the biggest single purchase to make on your self-build project. Land can account for 50% of the total value of the completed house in areas where plots of land are rare and prices are higher, like London or the South East.
Location, location, location
Demand for self-build plots in the UK varies significantly and is dependent on the location.
Alex Blagden, Senior Market Research Analyst at AMA Research, says: “There is a strong disconnect between where people want to self-build and where there are sufficient numbers of available sites.”
According to data from the Self-Build Housing Market Report 2021-2025 by AMA Research, there is a relatively large number of applications for self-build projects in the Home Counties and the South West compared to the numbers of available sites.
In contrast, the highest number of sites available for self-builders are in the Highlands and Grampian areas of Scotland, Northern Ireland and the South West but these areas “attract a relatively smaller number of applications,” said Blagden.
The report also shows that residential land values vary considerably across the UK and have become increasingly polarized between high levels in the South East and the rest of the UK. For the most part, variation in land costs is related to the availability of self-build plots within key areas.
Finding an affordable self-build plot
So, how do you find a self-build plot? Plotfinder is a great starting place to begin exploring plots of land to develop on. Your best bet is looking at brownfield sites, land which has already been developed on. A site with planning permission removes a lot of risk and does come with a shelf life but understanding the planning permission process is important before finding self-build land.
You can select plots with planning permission or land without planning permission through to custom build plots. You can adjust features on the search engine to include services on site, land for auction, period property or eco properties.
If you are building a house on a low budget, where is an ideal spot to find land?
Typically, some of the most affordable self-build plots can be found in Scotland and a search on Plotfinder reveals starting prices in Scotland from £125,000 for a plot with planning permission. In England, the prices wildly vary but for a self-build plot in Greater London you could be looking at a minimum of £280,000 for a plot (with planning permission) but this varies from area to area. Over in Wales, prices start around £70,000 (Llangadog), for example. While in County Tyrone in Northern Ireland you can scoop up a six-acre plot with planning permission for £100,000. Prices in Ireland are on the rise due to the demand for new homes and the cost of a plot of land can vary wildly.
Often local authorities hold plots of land that are not listed on this database so it’s worth casting your net further and contacting them directly.
How to build a house on a low budget
If you don’t want to compromise on where you live and, let’s face it, you won’t always find a cheap location - there are plenty of ways to manage your budget after securing your self-build land. A low-budget self-build can be achieved by setting and managing a self-build budget from the outset. Consider what you need to budget for and how you can even build an energy efficient home on a budget.
A bright future for finding your self-build plot
Finding that elusive affordable self-build plot of land may feel like a huge obstacle but there’s good news: the government is making the process easier by demanding that councils keep Right to Build registers, which contain details of anyone who has expressed interest in a self-build project.
In 2020, the government announced a review of self-build housing, including reviewing the effectiveness of the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015, to make it easier for people to build and commission their own homes by encouraging councils to grant planning permissions for projects. The government also announced a £2.2 billion fund to support custom and self-builders. Find out more about the Help to Build scheme in our blog here.