The Uphill Battle
You may remember in my last blog article I had been elated at finding a plot and having an offer accepted. There were a few things that needed to be resolved but at most it seemed these would take a month or two. I already had a mortgage lender who seemed keen to support me pending the further details.
Gradually though to my dismay the complications became clear and far more complex than I had been led to believe. There were over 20 vendors to the plot including charities! Quite a difficult group to get any clear answers from not helped at all by their legal team or estate agents.
As soon at the ‘contract’ arrived I met with my solicitor. He was brilliant and explained they had sent only very basic papers that did not amount to a lot. He had many concerns and suggested either I withdraw or they try to enquire further for me. As there were no other plot options I decided to pursue the plot despite the difficulties.
I spent many hours calling, chasing and gathering information and discovered little that was positive:
The outline planning had not been granted because there was a dispute with the owner of the private lane that led to the plot. Much of the land was actually paddock land and could not be used as garden. Also the proposed outline planning had a significant ridge height restriction. There was a section 106 charge for both plots collectively that had to paid before development could start on either plot. Quotes to bring gas and water to the site were in excess of twenty thousand pounds. Then I discovered the property would have to be fitted with a sprinkler system due to poor fire engine access and the site was on a flood plain.
To add insult to injury six months in more papers arrived declaring an overage clause lasting 40years also applied to the plot! It was looking less viable as time went on. I continued throughout to search for other plots but found nothing. I tried on many occasions to meet with the vendors to talk through the problems but they ignored my requests. I met with the gentleman looking to buy the second plot on the site and we decided to write to the vendors. We offered to buy the plots with the unresolved issues at a reduced price. They declined our offer so we both walked away.
I was angry and disappointed the saga had stretched on over a year but there were some big positives from the experience. Having a good solicitor had avoided me from wasting thousands. Crucially though I had learnt a massive amount about building plots and planning. While it was a frustrating and painful process it had left me with a great deal of knowledge and understanding.
A couple of weeks after finally giving up on the first site I noticed another plot nearby was on the market. I had enquired about it over a year ago when I had last noticed it on the market but had felt it was too expensive. The unusual shape site surrounded by an access track to fields had also put me off.
The plot had been reduced in price and already had full planning passed for a large house. I arranged to view the site and met with the vendor at the plot. Oddly the site was walking distance from the original plot. I surprised myself and liked the plot a great deal. Soon after I decided to place an offer on the plot and things progressed positively. A few unforeseen issues made the purchase slightly protracted but in January 2014 I finally became the proud owner of a self-build plot.