If you’re a seasoned investor or accustomed to buying property at auction, you will likely have come across an opportunity to buy an older property that comes with a very generous plot.
Of course, there’s a reason such large plots come with older properties, which is simply that modern-day developers like to maximise every possible bit of space to increase profits. Back in the day the narrative was quite different. There was more land to go around and property and land costs were much less.
There was also less demand which helped make owning large plots a more affordable luxury.
If you’re lucky enough to embark on a project like this, you’ve got an initial choice to make – what to do with the existing building on the plot. There’s basically four options…
You could build one or more additional properties on the plot, dividing the space between them.
Just make sure the original property will still have sufficient space and that access and parking won’t become an issue.
When done right, this is a very profitable exercise, especially as there is already a property on the site so connecting services should be far less troublesome than when developing a new plot.
Maybe there’s not enough room for more properties but there’s an option to extend. This is the most common way to add value to a property with a decent sized plot and one that can make a huge difference to the overall appeal.
If the property is in an upmarket area and a larger property is in-keeping with others in the vicinity, this will likely be your preferred option. The target market for such a property would expect their own grounds, so you may choose not to divide the plot in this scenario. Do your research and find out what the local market wants.
If the property is:
Subject to planning and other restrictions, you may wish to demolish the existing property and start from the ground up. A fresh plot for fresh ideas.
Perhaps the market for a large older property in the area has completely evaporated. You may find in this instance that the local authority would prefer you to build multiple new homes on the site, making the planning process much easier to navigate.
Whatever your reasoning behind a demolition job, you will want to get planning approved for your proposed new build(s) as soon as possible in addition to getting permission to demolish what’s already on the site.
You love the property, so why not restore it to its former glory?!
In the right area, large older properties with large plots are still the expected standard. You might even want to live in it yourself in the future. If bought for the right price it will still likely be a great long-term investment.
Your property, your choice.
OK so, once you’ve decided on how you’re going to develop your plot, or better still – whilst you’re considering your options, here’s what you need to consider before you embark on your big build…
We’ve already touched on this but it’s a big factor. Whatever you choose to do needs to suit the local property market and be in-keeping with similar properties in the area.
Look at it from the other perspective too – what’s going on in the area that could negatively impact your property? Noise from busy roads for example. Which side of the plot is most affected? Can you design the plot to keep noise at a minimum for future occupants?
Developing a plot is a big job and will likely cause some level of disruption to your neighbours, whether that’s building noise, access for building materials or simply them having to look at a building site for months.
Meet the neighbours. Tell them your plans and what they should expect at each stage of the development. Let them know that you will do all you can to minimise the impact on them. Take them a case of wine or do something else outside the box to get them on side.
You’ve considered the surrounding area and met the neighbours, so you’ll have a fair idea about the privacy requirements. Design the plot so that the property provides as much privacy as possible to your neighbours and your new tenants/owners.
Avoid windows that directly face those of your neighbours. If complete privacy is impossible, as it usually is, consider which rooms need the most privacy and design accordingly.
It’s important to make use of natural sunlight. How can you design the plot to make the best use of this throughout the day as the sun moves and your new occupants use different rooms around the home?
If you’ve bought a plot with large slopes it may impact what you’re able to do. There are higher costs associated with changing the topography of the land, and building on awkward plots can result in drainage issues too.
You’re best consulting a professional before your purchase to confirm your plans will be achievable.
Potential issues aside, investing in an opportunity like this is a dream for many investors. Huge profits are there for you if you can find the right opportunity and make the right decisions.
Not only that, if your plot came with a large older property on it, you’re buying a piece of history. Head down to your local auction and see what’s available.
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-Janice Minihan, director and co-founder of Property Deal Store