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Let's Talk Land - Part one

Updated: Jan 19

Whether you have a backyard big enough to subdivide or you’re looking for the perfect site to build your dream home on, there are some important factors to consider with land. Investing in land or realizing the profitability of your current land can be very exciting if done the right way. To avoid money pits and headaches our Two Part Insider Series looks at terms, costs and what to look out for when it comes to land.

Whether you are selecting land to purchase or looking to subdivide the following is worth understanding:

Certificate of Title

The Title proves ownership of the land and any rights or restrictions that apply, including covenants or easements on the land. Covenants may limit your new build to a specific look and style, materials and colours and can also dictate placement of ancillary dwellings (sheds, granny flats), garages and fences. Some covenants can go as far as limiting the number of pets on the property, fence heights and the location of external washing lines. An easement usually dictates the rights of another’s access to your land for a set purpose, for example, a neighbour may be able to drive across your land to get to their property. Your lawyer should check the Title for you.

Geotechnical report

The geotechnical report outlines site conditions with instruction around design and construction recommendations for builders. Engineers need these reports to conduct an adequate review of geotechnical related features, like earthworks and foundations.

Topographical Survey

A topographical survey gives details on the land and its features. The site and understanding its shape and layout is all important as you begin your design process, for everyone involved. An accurate topographical survey is a key document.

Resource Consent

You apply to the Council for Resource consent to cover how your subdivision or build may affect the environment. It is a necessity when subdividing and potentially required to build. A Planner can let you know which whether you need resource consent.

Land to Build Location is paramount when considering land to build on, whether for you to enjoy or an investment property. The more questions you ask, the clearer you’ll become on what you need. Does the location of your potential site work for your needs, now and in the future? Are you looking for central or private? Coastal or Rural? What is the community like? Are there special features like a view or reserve close? What are the local amenities? While location is key, also consider other aspects which will add value. Gaining as much knowledge about the property is of huge importance in the early planning phase and can help us determine the best way to approach the design of the home, also ensuring costs don’t blow out on foundations and earthworks. Our advice is to purchase the best section you can afford. Here’s some important questions to ask before you make any offers -

1. Is the section serviced? Ideally, you want a site that's connected to utilities like water, power, gas and internet. Rural sections are often not connected to water or sewage, so water and septic tanks will need to be installed as part of the build. Sites without power or telecom connected will have added costs in connection. 2. How will zoning affect your land purchase? Zoning determines how a piece of land can be used and developed. It can limit your building specifications, such as proximity to the boundary, where on the site or how high you can build. It also pays to be aware of what your neighbours zone allows them to do. Be mindful of future zoning changes. 3. What is the soil quality like? If the site has a geotechnical report, you may have some soil indications. You can also do a soil test. 4. Assess the site in terms of environment and natural hazards? Considering the environment and natural hazards on your site is crucial as it can often mean more money for the house itself. If the site is exposed to high winds, you may need additional bracing for the build. Similarly, if your plot is coastal and close to the sea, you will require non-corrosive fixings for claddings and structural elements. Natural hazards like high risk of erosion, liquefaction or flooding could drive up your insurance premiums. A LIM report will typically show this information. 5. Is the site sloping or difficult to access? While a steeper section may be cheaper to purchase, it may well incur greater costs to build than a flat site making it a lot more expensive in the long run. Major earthworks, including retaining work and piling can make getting out of the ground very expensive, before the house has even begun. Ask your builder to outline the costs in the ground on top of the build itself. Consider power lines or power boxes that could get in the way. Are there large trees or excessive foliage? If your builder struggles to get to the building site, you may be charged extra for the difficulties they experience. Check what requirements your builder has for site access.

There are pros and cons for purchasing bare land:


You will undoubtedly make some capital gain once the build is complete.

Land usually sees less competition from other buyers and more room for negotiation.

Within reason, you have freedom to build what you want, compared to buying a home that may not have everything you need.


Financing can be challenging when purchasing land and lenders often require higher deposits.

You will potentially have to service the loan on the land and have rent/mortgage where you plan to live.

There are unknowns with regards to what's under the ground.

Do your due diligence to remove as many unknowns as possible. Delays in the building process are an inevitability so research your builder well - check their track record.

On-site meeting and inspection

We offer a free, no obligation site assessment, where we can meet you on-site and discuss the unique constraints of your site and how we can work with the land to get the best outcome. We get to understand what you’re hoping to achieve in your home and the sort of budget you have in mind. We’ll assess how suitable the land will be to achieve your desired outcome, and we will give you advice on what the possibilities are.



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