Step 1 – Finding land to build on

Finding land to build on is often the most challenging aspect of any Self Build so we’ve compiled a list of hints and tips that you may find useful.

Right To Build

As of October 2016, Councils in England must maintain a register of residents interested in building their own home. Known as the ‘Right to Build‘ register it aims to boost local house building, and is a fantastic opportunity for anyone with self-build ambitions.

Finding a suitable plot has always been one of the biggest barriers self-builders face. The introduction of the register means many more serviced plots will now be available. Solo Timber Frame recommend that anyone interested in building their own home register on the Right to Build Portal. The portal set up by NaCSBA encourages local authorities to identify and prepare these self-build plots to meet the increasing demand.

Step 1 - Finding land to build on Solo Timber Frame Homes

Right to Build allows either individuals or groups to register. Groups can apply for plots to build several homes, such as a co-housing or community projects. Individuals must be looking to build a sole residence – no holiday homes or buy-to-let properties. All applicants will be able to specify the type of building plot they have in mind, and what kind of home they would like to build.

The plots offered will depend on many factors, such as local demand, but the potential for self-builders is huge.

As of November 2017, the NaCSBA have reported 33,000 people having signed the register, and that up to 18,000 new serviced self-build plots will need to be permissioned by October 2019 – an increase of over 50%!

If your local Council is not yet engaged with the Right to Build register, we recommend you put pressure on them to do so. Write to them and your local MP and ask anyone else you know interested in building their own home to do the same.

The Right To Build register currently only applies in England, but work is well underway to introduce this in Wales and Scotland.

Solo Timber Frame are excited by the opportunities Right to Build opens up, and would be delighted to talk to you about any aspect of your own self-build plans. You can call us on 01892 771354 or complete our online enquiry form for more information.

We would always recommend you keep your options open when it comes to finding a plot, so you might also want to consider the following…


Mention to friends, relatives and colleagues that you’re looking for land. You may be surprised at what or who they know.

Sometimes large Property Developers will be willing to sell you a piece of land within one of their developments. Speak to the onsite sales agent or contact the Developer directly.


Put your own classified ad in the local paper. Make it clear that you are an individual rather than a company as a company will often want to pay below market value.

If you’re a Developer or a serial Self-Builder, put a sign on your current site advertising who you are and telling passersby that you are ‘Always looking for land’.

Seen a plot that you like? If there’s an existing house on the site drop a note through the door expressing an interest, alternatively drop into the local pub and get chatting with the Landlord and locals.

Use Estate Agents

The Estate Agent is your best friend (at least until you find your plot). If possible, go and see them face to face rather than speaking over the telephone or using email as they will view you as a more serious prospect.

High Street Estate Agents are not normally instructed to sell land, but occasionally they will have an old house on a lovely plot that needs demolishing and rebuilding.

Don’t restrict your search to the big names or those with the glossiest advert in the local paper, many towns have a little Estate Agency which has been trading for many years. Stepping into their office will be like stepping back into the 1950’s. They very likely have a surveying department, which makes up the majority of their income. They have a surprising insight into what is available.

Visit property auctions

Every Tom, Dick and Harriet looking for a plot will no doubt be using this avenue as well but don’t restrict yourself to the Auction Houses who are established in your area. Inexplicably some vendors instruct companies who are based a long way from the plot. Keep an eye on the local papers as those companies will likely place a small classified advert promoting that plot.

Online Plot finding services

There are a myriad of online companies trying to get you to sign up for their services, most will charge a fee but some will search for free. If you do decide to pay make sure that the same information isn’t available free of charge somewhere else.

Use a physical property finding service

For a fee of anything between 1% and 3% you can employ a finder to do all of the legwork for you. They work much like an Estate Agent but in reverse working for you the Purchaser, rather than the Vendor.

It’s probably the most expensive route to finding your plot but you may recoup their fee by them negotiating a better purchase price on your behalf.

Get online

Right Move and their competitors are an excellent resource for finding land. You can set up an account to send you an email when something becomes available.

Google Earth

Some of the bigger developers use online mapping to get a literal birds-eye view of where houses with big back gardens or potential plots are located. This is a real long shot and even if you spot something you have to find the owners contact details and hope that they want to sell.

For a small fee you can find out who owns a plot using the Land Registry online Service.

Keep in touch with Solo Timber Frame

We occasionally have clients who due to a change of circumstances have decided to sell up rather than build. Tell us where you’re looking and we’ll let you know if something comes up.

General Hints:

  • Be quick, if it’s a good plot you will not be the only person viewing.
  • Have your funds ready, if you can promise a quick sale you have a better chance of securing the land.
  • Sell your dream to the Vendor, tell them about you and your family and how passionate you are about the plot and invite them for a glass of champagne when the house is finished.
  • Lastly, don’t give up. Finding good plots isn’t easy, but it is worthwhile.

Solo Timber Frame Wonder Tool – Your free Self Build helper

Our Wonder Tool is a completely free suite of planning and budgeting tools. Within it you’ll find all the resources you need to help you plan and Self Build your dream home.