Many people sadly choose a block of land without having done their due diligence, to find that their block of land isn’t suitable to their development needs. So if you are in Melbourne, Victoria and looking for a piece of land to build an Architect designed house, where should you start?
Size of Land
Size is important. A good sized block presents itself with more opportunities. Not only will a larger size provide the option of a multi unit development, but when building a single structure, there will be more area available to create a more bespoke product.
Slope of Land
A flat block is good for many different footing types, ideally a reinforced concrete slab and generally has the least site costs.
A sloping block presents many opportunity such as having a split level home and a basement, thereby gaining more space within the dwelling. They also tend to present with views as they are generally on hills. Sloping blocks however tend to present with more significant site costs due to filling and excavating the land and the use of retaining walls. They also tend to have more drainage issues.
Good orientation is always important especially as the house needs to make use of cross flow ventilation and the sun. Ideally a house where north is to the side or rear of the block when viewing from the street front is ideal.
A house with north to the front limits the exposure of daylight and warmth from the sun into the house throughout the day, considering most living areas tend to now be at the rear of the dwelling.
Access to build a renovate or build a dwelling or multi unit development is very important. Where there are building with shared walls or built side by size or that take take up the entire block for example can lead to a lack of access for building perimeter walls which can significantly add to the building cost.
Furthermore renovations where there is a lack of access to the dwelling from the sides or the rear, generally will cost more due demolishing and building everything by hand as opposed to providing access for plant operators with machinery.
Planning Zones and Overlays
Planning zones and overlays affect the block in many ways. They provide guidelines as to what can be built and the parameters that the built form needs to follow. Generally a block with favourable planning zones and overlays are easier to develop on. Planning Zones and Overlays also can trigger a Town Planning application to get approval to build on.
Neighbourhood character is a key consideration when Town Planning is involved. Even if the planning zone and overlay allows a certain type of development, this can be constrained if the surrounding neighbourhood character is markedly different to what is permitted. This is why a number of applicants who build multi unit developments run into problems when trying to build in an area with a limited precedence of multi unit developments.
Covenants are equally a problem. The may limit the number of dwellings a block can have, through to limiting the type of materials that can be used. These are normally placed on former and current estates. In the case of former estates, it can be be very costly removed.
Easements and Rights of Way
This is a large consideration for anyone undertaking a build. Easements and rights of way are effectively pieces of land allocated for service authorities to run their services and generally cannot be built on, unless it is a carport or a garage in certain circumstances. Easements that run though a middle of site as opposed to the side and back can cause a lot of problems for a prospective developer or home owner. Therefore it is important to be reviewing the Section 32 prior to purchasing a block for easements.
Authority services can have a big cost impact on a development. Blocks which tend to not have services running adjacent to them are especially hard hit, as neighbours’ approvals are required to generally access service lines. Where this is not possible, access may be obtained from the nearest street, which can be very costly. Services upgrades are also costly in the event where electrical, water, sewer etc service does not cater for the current development (usually that is multi unit in scale). Therefore anyone looking to build or develop needs to consider this.
In addition to the planning zones and overlays, it is important to consider if the property is subject to flooding, termites, bushfire attack etc. Failure to consider this can once again lead to cost blowouts in the build.
Everything written here is not an exhaustive list in what to look for on a block of land to build on, but is an important first step as part of any due diligence prior to undertaking a renovation or a new build in Melbourne. Our team at Strength Group, being both Architects and Builders can provide you with the right assistance in this area to ensure your goals can be realistically achieved on your chosen or desired block. For further assistance, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 03 7019 5515.