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Location and services
When you choose a location, make sure it has the services you consider necessary for a pleasant lifestyle. It is no use buying where you will not be happy to live, although your financial situation may force you to compromise. You should consider the availability of schools, child care centres, shopping centres, parks, medical services, clubs, community swimming pools and so on. If some services are not yet available, find out if they are planned and when they are likely to be available. An important consideration is public transport, what is available and how long it will take you to travel to and from work. Try to picture what the suburb will look like in 10 years’ time and consider if this is still the place you want to live. When buying land, you should consider the costs of connecting and maintaining services. including: water, electricity, gas, telephone, sewerage, fire control.
Features and orientation
You should evaluate the land site critically. Consider any trees and whether they can remain or have to be removed before building. The cost of removing trees is likely to be expensive and council permission is usually required. Also consider whether any rocks need to be removed.
Remember that steep sites tend to increase building costs. The stability of the soil may also need to be checked. The local council may require geo-technical reports and extensive engineering drawings before granting permission to build. If there are any creeks, dams or watercourses on or near the site, you may need to check any restrictions about building. Check if the site is prone to flooding as you may face difficulties obtaining finance and insurance. You should consider the aspect and any views from the block. Will the views be built out or blocked out by vegetation in the future? Use the site’s natural features for maximum energy efficiency. For example, if possible, have the main living areas facing north for maximum exposure to the sun.
You will need access to the site for concrete trucks and construction equipment, including bulldozers and bobcats if excavation is taking place. If the site is in a new or outlying area, a road may need to be constructed first. You should find out who is responsible for its cost and maintenance. Boundaries and restrictions Have the actual boundaries of the land measured. A registered surveyor should check and peg these. Also check with the local council about the building boundaries and zoning for the property. Check if there are any easements for services (eg. sewerage, drainage or electricity) on the land. Any covenants that will limit your choice of building material or size of house should also be identified.
If you wish to add a granny flat, or subdivide the property for dual occupancy, check whether this is permitted by the local council. A check of any building covenants or restrictions on the title should also be undertaken.