Where do you search to buy land for self building?

If you want to buy land to self build then you need to give yourself the best chance of success by exploring all possible avenues. Let’s have a look at a few of the mainstream options and a couple of other ways to get your hands on a good building plot.

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On Your Doorstep

Where better to start searching for a plot than on your own doorstep?

In 2010, the coalition Government reversed the classification of gardens as brownfield sites to prevent the growing occurrence of ‘garden grabbing’ for development.

However, this didn’t signify a nationwide moratorium on the development of garden plots and depending on each local council’s allocation of land and the availability of other brownfield sites suitable for housing, planning permission may still be sought and granted on a garden plot. There have also been some legal challenges and High Court decisions clarifying the extent of the reclassification. ┬áThe best course of action is to contact your local planning office for information about practice your area.

If you are able to build in your garden and can arrange the finance, you could even stay in your current house while you build the new one.

Word of Mouth

Finding a plot privately is also a good option. Friends, neighbours or local landowners might have a piece of suitable land and welcome the additional income from selling it.

If you plan to stay in the same area, ask around and let people know that you are looking to buy land.

You could even put an advert in the local paper.

If you are looking for a plot in a new area, spend a bit of time in the local pub, post office etc. and drop it into conversation. It’ll give a bit more insight into the area and if you do end up moving there you’ll even get a headstart on getting to know the local community! You never know what might come up.

Keep your eyes open and ask around but be sure to get planning permission before you buy.

Estate Agents

The obvious place to look for property…

Make sure you pop in regularly and let them know what you are looking for and that you are keen.

Good plots are rare and there will be competition, so if you can get a ‘heads up’ when a new plot is coming onto the market then you can start doing your research and assessing its suitability.

Online property websites like Rightmove will carry listings from many estate agents and you can choose land in the ‘property type’ filter to make life easier.

Plot Search Databases

There are a number of plot finder resources that scour the market for plots and development opportunities to add to their databases. Some are free and some charge a subscription fee for access and if you enter your search criteria they’ll e-mail you when new plots become available.

Our favorite and the UK’s premier land and property finding resource for self builders, renovators and small-scale property developers is Plotsearch who have thousands of opportunities listed in their database.

Note – If you are looking for a plot to build on, beware of offerings of cheap land for sale. These often advertise parcels of grazing or greenbelt land with the premise that it offers good development potential. The reality is that you may never get planning on it and could end up with an overpriced piece of unsuitable land.

Buy Land at Auction

Auctions are a good place to buy land. You need to do all your research and legal checks in advance and be fully prepared for the auction. The rap of the gavel signifies the sale of the plot, is legally binding and requires the immediate payment of a deposit, usually 10% of the final bid.


Local builders often subsidise their contracting work with small developments. They will pick up pieces of land here and there and when times are hard they will offload some of their plots to sustain cash flow.

Keep your eyes and ears open and remember that asking the question never hurts. Selling privately to you may even save them precious time and agent’s or auction fees.

Local Authorities and Utilities Companies.

Local Authority and Utility companies sell off unwanted land at auction. They do have estate management and again we believe in the ‘don’t ask don’t get’ approach so it’s always worth seeing whether they have any plots available that might be suitable.

Developer Plots

Developers will often buy a large parcel of land, divide it into plots, obtain planning permission, build some houses, sell some houses and sell some of the plots on to self builders. The benefit of these is that you will probably buy land that has some degree of planning permission and maybe even access and services to the plot.

If you are on the hunt to buy land then stay on the lookout all the time and leave no stone unturned. Read through the rest of our Buying Land to self build section for tips on assessing your plot and things to look out for. Make sure you do your research thoroughly before you commit to a purchase.

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