Saturday, 25 June 2011

Home Building Show

Tomorrow we're off to Surrey to our first home building show (Oh how I wish we had known we were doing this 2 months ago & we could have gone to Grand Designs & met Kevin!).

Looking forward to getting ideas & contacts & finding out more about all this new technology we keep reading about. It all sounds so fab but will we be able to afford the ground source heat pump, wood pellet boiler, rainwater collection system, not to mention the compost toilet??  Straw bale build? Canterbury town planners? Hmm probably not!

First on site meeting

We met with the architect & his assistant who came to do a full site survey which will give us precise measurements & the gradients of the plot.
We spent a lot of time looking at the boundaries & views of the plot from the road & came to the conclusion that it would be wise to keep as much of the hedges, small trees and foliage as we can during the build.  We're fortunate that there's a healthy mature yew hedge at the front & down a large part of the west side & that there's quite a few nice small bushes and a pretty fig tree at the bottom of the site. All this will help to make the plot look established & not so new plus save us quite a few quid in plants later down the line. We know that the planners nowadays insist on planting schemes being submitted with the house plans so the greenery already there should help to soften the view of the house from the road.
A condition of the sale was that a 6ft fence be erected within 28 days of completion between the plot & the house on the left (the seller of the land).  We're hoping that where the yew separates the house at the front we can just keep that as it's much more attractive than new fencing, or at the very least, take the fence down once the build is complete.
Now waiting on architect's call saying the surveys ready, let's talk design!!

Some pics of the site

This is the view from mid way down the site looking towards the North West. 

Looking up towards the road from the bottom of the site

Our little bit of land

This shows the land we bought. It's on a very residential road with a mixture of styles of house, the house to the left is a huge 5 bedroom job built only a few years ago and on the right is a very unloved chalet bungalow from the 70s.  Hopefully we'll build something lovely in between.
The plot slopes gently towards the back (North) giving views of the sea towards the Isle of Sheppy & Southend (so glamorous!).

We've measured it roughly to be 14.5m width on the road front, 16m at the back & a depth of 33m - big enough for our needs!

We got our plot of land!!!

Having never bid at any auction before all credit is due to my husband, he was a very cool bidder and we won the auction at £30k under our top price so we were grinning from ear to ear when we left! Celebrations were in order  that evening with friends who'd accompanied me on many a viewing of old uncared for properties, some were so bad we had to hold our breath for the the duration of the viewing, in our search for the perfect house so we all raised a glass (even Will who was suffering with severe man flu).  Not sure that we could quite believe what we'd done!!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Lapsed Planning Permission

The next step was to find out more information about the plot as we knew that if you're the winning bidder at auction there's no going back.  So.... we looked on the council's planning site & found that the site had lapsed planning permission for a 5 bedroom (3 stories at the back) mock tudor style very big house which had been granted in 2006. This was a good start as we don't want to build a house anywhere near as big.  My concern was that the planners may still favour the mock tudor style & as we had visions of a very contemporary style house we needed to make sure this wouldn't be so.

We asked a local architect to meet us on the site (with permission from the vendor who lives next door) to talk things over. He pointed out the hotch potch of styles of houses in the road so, in his view, the style of the build would not be an issue.  He said that we needed to clarify the boundaries but otherwise was quite up beat about the possibilities.

With that settled we paid a visit to the Auction House to look at the legal documents ie; the land registry document, local search, Southern Water search, draft transfer deeds, previous planning consents & special conditions of purchase.  We found nothing to be too alarmed about, the conditions of purchase stated that a 6 foot fence should be erected within 28 days between the plot & the vendor's house & we found that a road drainage sewer runs down the east side of the length of the plot (nice!) from which your building should be 3 metres away.

So, with much talk we decided to attend the auction & take our chance!

The Beginning

We spotted a piece of land online that was coming up for sale by auction in just over a week's time & although we'd never talked in any detail about building our own house we were both attracted to the idea of it so we drove over straight away to see the plot.  We knew the road as we'd previously looked at a property there & although not in the heart of the town it has the benefit of being higher up with sea views and is convenient for both the bus to Canterbury & easy access by car.
Once we'd climbed over the fence we were pretty impressed with the plot's size & the views so started to get excited!