An architect is the key to your plot.

Realistically, you can do anything to a property but move it. For many finding the right building plot to build their dream home is the biggest hurdle. Here are a few points from an architect to aid your assessment. You are always welcome to call West Country Architect Peregrine Mears Architects. Our experienced, professional and friendly team are here to help, whatever your building design, planning and construction needs.

There are many considerations, hurdles, and indeed potentially significant challenges. The right assessment of the potential building plot, the planning aspects and financial matters is essential. The right work before your purchase significantly increases the chances of making the right decisions and achieving the right outcomes. Professional advice is an essential sound investment.

Buying a potential building plot without sufficient information or knowledge can be a considerable and expensive gamble, know the risks and make informed decisions. The site you are considering may have an existing planning permission; if what has been approved doesn’t suit your requirements, a new application can be submitted. Look at the detail of any consent and don’t make assumptions. Respect dates. Planning conditions, services, site access and more; a planning consent must be deliverable, make sure you can.

When looking at a potential site there are:

Things an architect helps you consider

  • Is there an existing planning permission? Look at the detail; all of it! There will probably be specific conditions, these need full consideration, can they all be met, how and at what cost?
  • It’s useful to know; was a planning appeal needed to obtain the consent? It is prudent to look into the planning background, especially if changes are proposed or a fresh application likely. Was there resistance from the local planning departments or community / neighbour opposition?
  • You might be looking at land with no existing planning. How do you assess the chances of securing an appropriate planning permission for your development? Here we can assist with reliable research, making a professional assessment offering guidance as how best to proceed.

A beautiful location, perhaps in a Coastal Preservation Area, National Park, Conservation Area or an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty can all have a significant impact on what you may be able to build. However, these perhaps highlight sensitivities around development. What’s the best approach? It is worth pursuing? Is this the chance I am looking for?


This sounds obvious but fundamental. Compliance with the regulations and any requirements imposed by the Highway Department are key, so do you own or have appropriate rights over the land affected? If rights of access over other land is required, a “ransom strip” situation may be created. That could be a minimal amount of land but might hugely affect costs and could render the project unviable or not deliverable at all. Professional architect and legal advice at this point is essential.

Can vehicles turn within the site and does the site provide sufficient parking? Can a safe access be formed onto the public highway is one does not already exist? If you are required as a condition to any planning approval to undertake work to the highway, do your homework. It is essential this is assessed and reliably costed

Trees are lovely, but can be problematic.

Trees on or near a development and the possible implications need to be considered. Are there any Tree Preservation Orders (TPO) or is the site in a Conservation Area? Trees grow, so the future impact above and below ground needs to be understood and planned.

Ground Conditions – a huge consideration.

The ground conditions need investigation. This information will influence the design and impact costings, including foundations and drains. What was the former use of the land, is there potential contamination to be considered? Remediable work can be expensive. Request consent from the landowner for a contractor to dig trial holes. If this consent isn’t given, the risks are increased.

Utility Services

Ensure that you understand how the appropriate services will be provided, including the costs of bringing these to site. Consider all services; the importance of quality broadband shouldn’t be underestimated. For some services there are options, sustainability and costs are key considerations. Check if easements and rights are needed over other land before you purchase a building plot.

Local Environment

The setting and environment affect design and use. Nearby buildings, the environment and general characteristics all carry influence. The look, style and use of nearby buildings should be considered. Are there any changes likely? Views. Noise. Access and traffic. Understanding these factors and how they will influence form, design, massing, layout and external appearance is a challenge.

Project Costs

Ensure that you are relying on the correct information and reliable costs. Friends may offer well-meaning ‘advice’ but this is one of the main areas where clients need up-to-date, reliable and informed advice and guidance. A realistic approach is essential to base decisions on the right information. Designs, specifications, planning conditions, building methods and so much more affect costs, far beyond an easy quoting of a global £ per m2 cost. How often do we hear that a budget is exceeded?

Service of your architect

Peregrine Mears Architects is here to help you. As a friendly and approachable architect’s practice, we always welcome a preliminary chat to discuss your plans. We listen, understanding your ideas and plans, will work with you and can tailor our architectural service to you. We’re here to help; we’re passionate about design, construction and development.

We’re here to help

Buying a building site is exciting, often the end of a stressful search and the start of a major, life-changing project. Research is essential before you buy, don’t be rushed and pressured. Ensure that your decisions are based on the right information, assumptions can be dangerous and expensive.

Talk with us 01271 377 776

Peregrine Mears Architects