Driveway Crossover Many blocks now come with the driveway crossover already constructed which causes further restrictions unless you want the expense of removing the crossover and constructing a new one in a different location.
Take Advantage of the Sun My aim to get most of the main rooms facing North for a solar passive performance and which helps with the energy rating performance (A good orientation can boost the environmental rating by at least one star).
Avoid Shading I like to place the house fairly close to the Southern Boundary so that the I can have a garden on the sunny side of the block which you can see from those North facing rooms. The wider garden also helps prevent shading from the house next door.
Should you choose the block, or decide on a house design first?
Well my preference has been to build on suburban blocks so we are close to shops, cafes, recreational facilities and public transport.
Blocks in these areas are relatively small so I’ve started by either sketching up the house I would like to build, or selecting a plan.
I then look for a block with good orientation that the house would fit on.
It means that I don’t even go and look at blocks that won’t fit my ideal house.
This has stopped me getting frustrated and have to start looking at a different house to fit an odd shaped block that I’ve set my heart on.
With blocks getting smaller, and more expensive your approach may have to be varied.
Currently the price of the land close to cities is usually more expensive than building costs. This even applies to suburbs 40km or more from the CBD.
In can makes sense to divide your budget by two and see what size block you can get in an area you want to live in.
You are then able to look for designs that fit that size of block.
If you can’t find a block big enough for a single storey house of a size you want at an affordable price you may have to start looking for designs for a smaller house or a 2 storey house.
Of course if you want a rural or semi rural block rather than a suburban block the overall size of the block means that you can fit most houses on the block without any problem.
It therefore makes sense if you are in this market to look for blocks early.
You can then look to choose a house that makes the best use of the site.
These larger blocks do give you more choice with the house design because the additional space means that you can move away from the typical rectangular houses to square houses, courtyard layouts, or even round houses.
With these big blocks I have heard it said that you should move a caravan onto the site for a few nights or even camp there before you decide where on the block you will site the house.
You often see house and land packages advertised and they may have an attractive price . . . . . but are they a good idea?
Here are a few more things to think about:
These sort of deals are popular with property investors who just want to get a new house built and get tenants in as quickly as possible. . . Wouldn’t you prefer to have the houses next door owned by occupiers who are going to be more likely to care about the appearance of the house and garden than a tenant who has little interest.
It seems to me they are usually offered on the hard to sell and the least attractive blocks which is one reason why they are cheaper. Typical problems I have seen include:
On a major road
Be an odd shape
Have access issues.
They are often based on the smallest possible block that will fit the house. Often they will have the houses so close together they will look more like a terrace and the back yard will be minimal.
One of the Real Estate maximums is that the way to make money on a house is by buying the right house.
Make sure you don’t harm your chances of a good future sale by buying a bad House and Land Package.
So you have visited the Developers Office and been shown a site plan with some blocks for sale that are the Size, and Orientation, you want.
The next thing is to get a copy of the Title Plan and go and look at the blocks you think may be OK.
Here are some things to think about.
Find the Boundary Pegs Normally the actual boundary peg will be driven in so the top is at ground level, there is normally a tall peg next to it to help locate it. Once you have found the pegs you know the piece of land you are thinking about buying.
Manholes Sewers and Drains A lot of blocks have Easements for sewers and drains which will restrict how much of the site you can build on. (The Title Plan will show the Easements) If you can see a manhole you will also need to think about how this might limit what you can do in the garden.
Site Slope As little as a 1m slope from front to back can add $3-4,000 to your site cost. A 1m slope from one side to the other can add even more. The steeper the slopes the more the builder will charge for site costs.
Below or Above the Road Where there is a sloping development site some blocks will be above the road and others below. Sites above the road are less likely to flood and can be more private than ones below the road.
Effect of Building on Neighbouring Blocks. Shading and blocking views are common problems that can affect your proposed house and garden. If you are keen on building a solar pasive house you can minimise the effect if the block you choose is higher than the one to the north. Obviously if the surrounding blocks are already developed its easier to consider the effects.
Road Crossover Many blocks now come with a driveway crossover if this doesn’t suit your design it will cost quite a bit to get it changed.
Look Up One thing I didn’t notice on my first visit to my current block was the overhead power cables just outside the block. They aren’t big pylons or anything and the poles are some distance away so its just a single cable. It does however restrict the size of tree we can have in our garden.
You will be very lucky if you get a perfect block so you are probably going to compromise on some of the above points. Good Luck!
A Community Title it is basically the same as a Strata Title that would be used for a block of apartments.
These developments can look great……..but what are the issues of having a new house on these developments?
Buy a house or block of land in a community title development and you immediately become a member of the community or neighbourhood association (body corporate), bound by its bylaws, and also the co-owner of the shared property.
Often schemes are subdivided into separate stages. . . .So the stage for your new house may have its own body corporate in a neighbourhood scheme, but this will be under an overall community scheme.
Bylaws can include:
What you can put in your garden.
What pets you can have.
The appearance of your property (including acceptable colours).
Who can live in the property, which can make properties difficult to sell.
Not allowing washing hung out.
Facilities can include; streets, pavements, parks, a “village green”, clubhouse, pool, tennis courts, etc.
However these “exclusive” facilities have to paid for and maintained, unlike the public facilities in a conventional development which are paid for by the council.
The extent and quality of construction of some of the facilities, for example road construction can sometimes be below the standards required by councils who insist on minimum standards for roads they know they will be responsible for!
Another typical problem is a lack of space for parking particulaly if residents don’t use their garages.
In addition to the cost of maintaining the facilities,you will be hit by body corporate management fees.
In some cases two fees; for your neighbourhood, and then for the overall community.
Its worth remembering that there is no saving on rates as these will still need to be paid.
I’m not saying don’t buy a block on a community title, just understand what it means.
For posts on issues to consider when buying land see Blocks