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A section is a section, right? Well, it’s actually a little more complicated than that. But it doesn’t mean buying a piece of land to build your dream home on should be stressful, you just need to make sure you check out all the practical aspects before considering some of the more ‘nice-to-haves’.
Here’s a few key things you should look for when choosing a section to buy.
Of course one of the first considerations of buying a section is finding one that is located where you want to live. But land can sometimes be difficult to find (especially in more urban areas) so you may need to be prepared to make a few compromises.
Working out your budget is also key, ensuring you have enough to secure the site and then also build what you want to on it. Some building companies (like us) provide a free site evaluation to make it easier for you to gauge approximate costs upfront.
The size of the section will also impact what you can build, so have an understanding about what rules there are around boundaries to get a more accurate idea of the actual buildable area.
Generally here in New Zealand, you want to buy a section that allows you to have a north facing living - this is to maximise sun hours, even in winter. There are actually phone apps you can use to track the sun’s position at any time of the year, so it might be worth investigating when you find some land you are interested in. This can help you with the potential orientation of your home (and assist with checking whether other houses, buildings or trees may block natural light).
Great views are always a plus, but an elevated site also comes with a few extras to factor in, such as potential cost of earthworks and if any special engineering is required. For example, if there is 2 metres of slope over the build platform, then you will need to have retaining walls to get the site flat.
Wind and coastal zoning also comes into play when building in locations that are exposed to high winds and coastal environments. And what’s underfoot needs to be considered too. Is it silty, or susceptible to erosion, in a flood zone or an earthquake prone area? All of these various environmental and geotechnical elements will have an effect on the kind of home that can be built and if there may be any additional costs.
If you’re looking for space to stretch out, a rural or lifestyle block might be an attractive option. But there are a few other things you’ll need to look at, like whether there are ‘services to the gate’ - or if they need to be connected to the boundary. Understand what provisions will be needed for water tanks and a septic system, as well as additional earthworks costs and transport fees to deliver materials to site. And don’t forget that if the house is too far from a fire hydrant, a source for fire fighting is required.
Rural sections are also subject to various regulations (depending on where they are in New Zealand), so if you have plans for your new lifestyle, ensure they would be permitted on the land.
An urban subdivision is typically a lot easier to build on, especially if you work directly with a company that offers a design and build package on various sites within the subdivision. Sections are prepared in advance for development and while doing all the right checks are still important, there are less likely to be big issues that arise.
When thinking about building your dream home, it can be easy to get caught up in all the emotional aspects - especially when you find the ideal section for the right price! But before you get too far ahead with your plans, always do your due diligence. That means checking the fine print and not getting caught out by things such as:
Zones and covenants are basically rules and guidelines over what can be built on a site. You should check that these don’t restrict you from building what you had planned (as well as other things such as fences, garden sheds and garages).
It’s also highly recommended that you look into the Land Transfer Plan and District Plan for the area in which you are building. It will detail any future developments (like roads, facilities, amenities) that are in the pipeline. And you know that awesome aspect the section has? Make sure you look into whether it could be built out by commercial or housing developments.
Before signing on the dotted line, get your lawyer to check the title - whether it’s in place already (often it’s not with new subdivisions) and what it means for your build. It might require additional clauses in your purchasing contract, or it could delay the start of construction.
Buying a section can take a bit of time, but if you work through the process step-by-step (perhaps alongside a reputable building company or with your lawyer), you’re sure to find a blank canvas worthy of your new home.
To book a free site evaluation with one of our team, click here to find your nearest branch.